ID card criminal record checks slammed despite trial success

By Cathy Wallace

| 09 October 2007

A trial using ID cards to help make criminal record checks on people who want to work with children and young people has been hailed a success by the government.

But critics of the scheme have attacked the trials, saying ID cards will not help with Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks and will be beset with the same administrative problems that have dogged these checks and other government IT projects.

In the pilots, volunteers applying for jobs requiring CRB checks used two online systems: one linked to UK passports and the other to ID cards, to confirm their identity.

Market research company FDS carried out interviews with the volunteers and analysed the research. The company reported 96 per cent of participants felt the passport-linked service was an improvement on current arrangements and 87 per cent said the ID card-linked scheme would be stronger still.

Home Office minister Meg Hillier said: "Establishing identity quickly and accurately is absolutely crucial when dealing with people who want to work with children. By linking details to fingerprints, the National Identity Scheme will make it easier and quicker to prove identity."

But Terri Dowty, director of Action on Rights for Children, said: "It is only going to help if someone is trying to give a false name, but I would think employers would be taking up references on whoever they employ anyway."

Michael Parker, spokesman for anti-ID card campaign NO2ID, said: "There is no need to create an unwieldy and expensive database for 60 million people in Britain and keep it operating when all they are trying to do is provide a small minority of organisations access to certain people's specific history."

The government says using ID cards to confirm online applications for posts working with children and young people could dramatically speed up the process.

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