Introduced in March 2002 by the Home Office, and initially run by the private company Capita, the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) provided a facility for checking the criminal records of anyone who worked with children or vulnerable adults. It replaced List 99, which was a list of all those barred from working with children.
How well did the CRB work?
The CRB faced heavy criticism from the outset. Computer problems delayed its launch, and it then struggled to keep up with demand for its services. Capita took on more staff to try to deal with the problem; however, this was not successful and the service for teachers was suspended and temporarily replaced by the old List 99. The government then exacerbated the problem by requiring the CRB system to check all existing and new nurses.
Less than a year after its launch, fees for checks were more than doubled. Although, the backlog had been largely cleared by this stage, and the CRB was meeting its target of completing 90 per cent of applications within four weeks for enhanced checks and two weeks for basic checks, public scrutiny of the system remained high. In late 2004, the CRB faced censure and further criticism in the independent Bichard Inquiry Report, which was commissioned following two high-profile child murders by a person in a position of trust.
The Independent Safeguarding Association
The Independent Safeguarding Association (ISA), which was responsible for the barring element of the CRB check, worked in conjunction with the CRB. The ISA ceased to exist on 1 December 2012.
The CRB and evolving technology
Technological advancements enabled the CRB to launch an online service in 2010. This so-called e-bulk service reduced the time needed to conduct a CRB check (now conducted by service providers such as http://www.carecheck.co.uk), which enabled employers to make speedier hiring decisions.
Merger of the CRB and the ISA
The CRB and the ISA were due to work in closer partnership from 2009; however, the proposed Vetting and Barring Scheme was suspended in anticipation of a review following the general election. When published in February 2011, the review recommended a full merger between the ISA and the CRB. The result was a standalone, single public body, unaffiliated to any one government office: the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).