Saturday, 8 September 2012

CRB Mishaps: Implications for the voluntary sector

 What would you do if you were falsely labelled as a violent criminal? The Criminal Justice system is a large, labyrinthine construct, notoriously difficult to navigate by the professionals that work within it, let alone an ordinary citizen wanting to volunteer time to a charity going through a CRB disclosure process.
Back in April, The Daily Telegraph ran an investigation which highlighted that as many as 20,000 people have been wrongly given a criminal record and forced to suffer the implications unnecessarily through systemic inaccuracies.
 That’s 20, 000 potential volunteers, teachers, nurses, medical students, social workers or anyone considering a career working with the public, sensitive information or cash.

Let’s focus on what this means for the voluntary sector. CRB disclosure is meant to act as a ‘safeguard’; implemented, rightly or wrongly, by Whitehall. Below, a CRB spokesperson provides as an outline of the primary aim and outcomes of disclosure:

"The CRB's first priority is to protect children and vulnerable adults by helping employers recruit people into positions of trust. In the past four years, CRB checks have prevented 130,000 unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups”.  (The Daily Telegraph, 2nd February 2012).

Sure, the CRB disclosure does this. But what happens when the process goes horribly wrong? The issue here is consistency. 

Firstly, 20,000 people have had to spend time, energy and resources clearing their names. Secondly, Social Enterprises like Kazuri are deprived of potential volunteers; who are instead busy navigating a confusing arm of the criminal justice system. Big busted flush for Dave's Big society.
Furthermore, what happens if the CRB disclosure check gets outsourced in whole or part to large corporation driven by profits as part of a PPP deal? Next we'll be outsourcing the police, oh wait...

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