Job-seekers to be vetted for crime

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The Independent Online
UP TO 12 million people seeking a job or a voluntary post are to be vetted each year to check if they have a criminal record under a government scheme announced yesterday.

Every applicant, including charity workers, will have to pay up to pounds 10 for their certificates, which will be presented to their future employers. Penal reform groups yesterday said the system could make former criminals unemployable, while charities are worried the costs will discourage volunteering.

The vetting system was originally designed as a method of preventing undesirable people, such as sex offenders, from working with children and the vulnerable but the scope of the scheme has ballooned.

An estimated five million adults in the UK have some sort of criminal record and the number of annual checks that will be made under the new scheme is estimated to be between nine and 12 million, bringing in an income of more than pounds 70m a year.

Home Office minister Paul Boateng said yesterday thatchecking criminal records would be part of the process of following up references.

But Helen Edwards, chief executive of the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders, said: "There is a real risk that employers will refuse to employ anyone with a criminal record.This will increase the likelihood of reoffending."

A new Criminal Records Bureau, employing 1,200 people, is to be set up on Merseysidein the next two years to run the vetting procedure.

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