Checking Up: How the Coalition's Plans
to Cut Back on Criminal Records Checks
Have Been Defeated



By: Josie Appleton
December 2014
Distributed by Coronet Books
ISBN: 9781906837662
52 Pages
$10.00 Paper original


Since 2002, more than 40 million criminal records checks have been carried out at a cost of nearly two billion pounds, yet there has never been any significant research showing the effectiveness of mass vetting in child protection terms. In June 2010, the Coalition government promised to 'scale back' criminal records checks to 'common-sense proportions', predicting that its reforms would lead to a halving of checks from around four million to 1.7 million. This has not happened. In 2013-14, there were 3,948,793 criminal records checks at a cost of GBP211.6 million.

Far from being scaled back, in certain ways the vetting system appears to have become more complicated, expansive and expensive. Vetting is encouraged by state agencies, such as local authorities and regulators, who demand checks even beyond current guidance. Furthermore, the interests of the regulators and the private bodies that rely on income from the checks mean that they will have little interest in reducing unnecessary vetting. This report argues that the current scale of investment in vetting is out of proportion to its positive effects. There is a need to go back to the drawing board and to ask if criminal records checks are the best manner in which to be spending GBP200 million a year.