§ Andrew Mackinlay
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what advice Essex police have given to the Criminal Records Bureau as to their estimated despatch time for returning applications; what factors affect the time scale for the process; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what the cause of delay to processing Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) application No. 4881924 is; on which date the CRB forwarded this application for checking by the Essex police; and when the constituent of the hon. Member for Thurrock can expect a reply. 
§ Ms Blears
[holding answer 22 July 2004]: The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) received application No. 4881924 on 7 May 2004. Following initial checks, the application was sent to Essex Constabulary in mid-May and it was returned to the bureau on 19 July. The Disclosure was completed and issued to your constituent on this date and I trust that it has now been received. I apologise for any inconvenience caused by its delay.
The Criminal Records Bureau aims to complete 90 per cent. of all Enhanced Disclosures within four weeks and has been regularly meeting these targets since June 2003.846W
Factors such as the volume of applications, the number and availability of staff, the number and type of police data bases searched and the existence of any relevant intelligence on Disclosure applicants can affect processing time scales at any police force, including Essex Constabulary. The estimated despatch time for returning applications can therefore fluctuate, depending upon variations of these factors.
In recent months, and due to a combination of these factors, checks undertaken by Essex Constabulary have been taking longer to complete and a backlog of cases has built up.
Although this work is the responsibility of the constabulary, the CRB has been working closely with them to manage the backlog of cases and to minimise any disruption and inconvenience to Disclosure applicants.
The CRB has in fact seconded a number of its staff in recent months to Essex and will shortly be sending more staff to help clear the outstanding work. This work is expected to be finished during the next two-three months and the backlog eliminated.