Home Office refuses to apologise after 3,000 are wrongly labelled criminals

John Reid, the Home Secretary, faces another daunting week as he tries to rebuild confidence in his beleaguered department after a series of crises.

Mr Reid's baptism of fire since moving to the Home Office in this month's Cabinet reshuffle continued yesterday when it emerged that the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) had wrongly labelled up to 3,000 people as criminals.

Several hundred people had similar names or dates of birth to real offenders but were turned down for jobs or university places because it was thought they had committed crimes involving theft, robbery and pornography.

Some innocent people had to be fingerprinted at their local police station to prove that they were not criminals. The Tories said the victims might be able to sue the Home Office for compensation.

Mr Reid asked "tough questions" of his officials about the scandal yesterday. The Home Office said the mismatches were "regrettable" but stopped short of apologising.

Mr Reid also asked for a report on his department's troubled Immigration and Nationality Directorate, which suspended a 53-year-old chief immigration officer after newspaper allegations that he asked an 18-year-old Zimbabwean rape victim for sex in return for helping her claim asylum.

Today, Mr Reid will try to fight back in a speech to the Parole Board in which he will promise to "rebalance" the criminal justice system in favour of the victims. He is considering including victims or their representatives on the panels which decide whether prisoners should be released.

Tomorrow, the Home Secretary will be quizzed by the Home Affairs Select Committee about the fiasco in which 1,023 foreign prisoners were released without being considered for deportation. He is expected to reveal new information about what went wrong.

On the same day, Mr Reid will address the Association of Chief Police Officers, who want him to slow down plans for mergers of the 43 forces in England and Wales. On Wednesday, he will launch a nationwide knives amnesty.

The CRB has a contract with Capita, the IT systems, to update its systems. Capita's founder, Rod Aldridge, resigned as chairman in March, denying suggestions that his £1m loan to the Labour Party helped the company win lucrative government contracts.

David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, said: "The refusal of ministers to face up to their own responsibility and to allow this dreadful practice to continue is not just a failure to do their duty; it is a willingness to perpetuate a serial injustice."

Nick Clegg, home affairs spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said: " While dangerous criminals are allowed to walk freely in our communities, innocent people are being given criminal records and prevented from getting on with their lives. This latest fiasco will erase the last bit of public confidence in the Home Office."

Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, defended the CRB, saying: "This is not about unsuitable people being allowed to work with children, this is about erring on the side of caution and people who are suitable being caught up in the system."

The Home Office said the number of mistakes that were naderepresented 0.03 per cent of the nine million disclosures issued by the CRB since it began operating in March 2002 and were a result of "mismatches" which arose during checks on people applying for jobs working with children or vulnerable adults.

A Home Office spokesman said that 25,000 unsuitable people were prevented from gaining such positions last year.

His bulging in-tray


Mr Reid will update a Commons committee tomorrow on the progress in tracking down 1,023 released foreign prisoners not considered for deportation. He must explain the lack of co-ordination between the Immigration and Nationality Directorate and Prisons Department


The troubled Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) was hit by " sex for asylum" revelations yesterday. The Tories want to know what ministers did after similar allegations earlier this year. Mr Reid will also face questions over whether he misled people after five illegal immigrants were discovered cleaning an IND office last week


Mr Reid will be in "let's talk" mode when he addresses the Association of Chief Police Officers tomorrow. They will press him to slow down the merger timetable for about 25 of the 43 forces in England and Wales


Tony Blair wants Mr Reid to review the Human Rights Act to possibly give more weight to protecting the public. He wants to look "tough" without alienating civil rights campaigners


Officially, Mr Reid is concentrating on putting the Home Office to rights. But he will have to consider whether the apparently "dysfunctional" department should be broken up.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas