CRB errors mean thousands wrongly branded as criminals

Nearly 12,000 people have been wrongly branded as criminals over the past five years as a result of irrelevant or inaccurate information disclosed during criminal record checks.

According to the latest from Big Brother Watch, 11,893 people successfully challenged their CRB results after being branded as criminals – forcing the government to shell out £1.98 million in redress.

CRB checks are regularly carried out for employment applications, especially for those looking to work with children or in the medical sector.

Details are then sent directly to current or potential employers, meaning that any black mark could be detrimental.

The stats show 4,196 people challenged information held by a local police force, while 3,519 people were given the wrong person’s criminal record. A further 4,088 people were also claimed to have found inaccurate information or a potential wrong identity on police national computers.

Big Brother Watch has now called for tighter controls on the way CRB checks operate, claiming that people should not have to rely on a check to find out about inaccurate, misleading or wrong information being stored about them, particularly when that information is available to other public organisations and police officers.

The group pointed out that the most common errors were where information was disclosed by local police forces or the police national computer. In 3,519 cases the wrong person’s entry on the police national computer was disclosed.

This isn’t the first time such checks have come under fire. In February last year, The Telegraph revealed that around 20,000 people had been wrongly labelled as criminals or accused of more serious offences because of blunders by the police and the CRB, since 2003.

It claimed at the time that in at least 3,000 cases the police record of an entirely different person was passed on while more than 3,500 people discovered their entries on the police national computer (PNC) were inaccurate.

The research contradicted annual error statistics published by the Criminal Records Bureau, which suggested around 200 people are wrongly accused each year.