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.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam