Staff checks cost council thousands

A CAMPAIGN group has criticised councils for carrying out too many criminal record background checks.

The number of checks requested by Kirklees Council has risen by more than a third since 2004, costing it more than £2m over seven years.

In 2010/11, the Criminal Records Bureau carried out 7,440 checks for Kirklees, up from 5,517 in 2004/5

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The figures for last year are down from a high of 8,819 in 2009/10, but Kirklees is still having more CRB checks carried out than many other local authorities in the UK.

For example, the London Borough of Croydon, the next smallest local authority area after Kirklees, only carried out 5,225 CRB checks in 2010/11.

Only county councils such as Essex and Norfolk, and large city councils such as Birmingham and Sheffield carried out more CRB checks than Kirklees last year.

Neighbouring Calderdale Council did not carry out any CRB checks in 2010/11 and is not currently registered with the Criminal Records Bureau.

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The information has been published by The Manifesto Club, a pressure group that campaigns against over-regulation.

Until April 2011, Kirklees paid £36 for every CRB check, plus a £20 administration charge.

There is no charge for CRB checks for volunteer positions, but the council still spent £295,680 on vetting staff in 2010/11. It has spent £2,163,896 on CRB checks since 2004.

In June 2010, the Home Secretary Theresa May called on organisations to scale back their vetting processes to ‘common sense’ proportions.

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A council spokeswoman said Kirklees closely monitored its CRB checking to make sure it complied with the law without doing unnecessary checks.

She said that some local authorities provided fewer services, so required fewer CRB checks, while others had the checks done by private firms.

She added that budget cuts meant the council was recruiting fewer people, which may explain the reduction in the number of checks carried out last year.