Cost of criminal data checks to double

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Ministers provoked anger last night after more than doubling the fee for making criminal record checks on people working with children and vulnerable adults.

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, announced that future checks would cost up to £29, instead of the existing fee of £12.Hospitals, schools, care homes and the church will all be affected by the new charge.

Efforts by the Criminal Records Bureau to vet teachers after the murders of the Cambridgeshire schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman collapsed last summer. Mr Blunkett also announced that, because the number of checks had been speeded up in recent months, checks on care workers postponed from last November could now begin.

Mr Blunkett said: "The CRB is on the road to recovery and is making steady progress. The improved protection of children and adults that is provided by the CRB inevitably comes at a cost.''

Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said he was "very surprised and disappointed'' over the move to increase the fees.

"This decision appears to have been made without any prior consultation or any thought for its impact on the voluntary sector,'' he said.

Paul Burstow, a Liberal Democrat MP, said: "The CRB is a hastily introduced, under-resourced nightmare drowning in paper because of ministerial blunderings. It is time the officials responsible stepped down.''

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