CRB checks rob charities of £350 million

Paperwork The CRB check has come under fire yet again after some diligent work by our friends at the Manifesto Club revealed that charities had spent around £350 million on criminal record
checks on their workers and prospective volunteers.

As the Daily Telegraph reports:

People who devoted their spare time to helping out in their communities say they found the vetting process “thoroughly insulting” while the bureaucracy it entails creates a “burden and a bore”.

Even people who sell tickets to a botanic garden or offer to write a local newsletter have been told that they must have their backgrounds checked in case they pose a risk to children.

The new report, Volunteering Made Difficult, discloses that 3.87m volunteers have been vetted over the past eight years – a fifth of the total. A further 2m are likely to have to sign up when the Government’s new vetting and barring scheme, now on hold pending a review, comes into force.

Although volunteers themselves do not pay to be vetted, their organisations must pay a £20 administration fee while the rest of the cost is borne by CRB checks paid for by companies and public sector bodies.

Yesterday's report once again confirms that the CRB scheme is neither efficient nor cost effective. The fact that these charities are spending such large amounts of their budget on lengthy checks and not on their worthwhile causes will seem outrageous to many people.

The real trouble here is that even very minor jobs entail such measures, which results in a lack of motivation to help worthy organisations. Similarly, those working for these charities who require annual CRB checks are increasingly losing patience with the administration and suspicion that they are being subjected to.

Of course CRB checks are vital in certain situations, but the Coalition Government needs  to smarten the system – making it proportionate and reasonable – instead of persisting with the pointless Vetting and Barring scheme which alienates and insults those trying to give their time and effort to good causes.

By Rory Fitzherbert

Posted by on Jun 24, 2010 in Home | 2 Comments


  1. Pot Kettle Black
    24th June 2010

    As a project manager for a small children’s charity I can tell you – they prove virtually nothing; they give a false sense of security; they are a deterrent to good quality people from applying; they throw up too many false positives and they are costly and time consuming.

  2. Dunstan
    24th June 2010

    My biggest gripe is that the CRB process has replaced the use of judgement. Instead of thinking “is this person suitable”, a quasi objective approval takes its place.
    Sometimes the lack of rules can make things safer: in traffic situations, if it’s not clear who has the right of way then the road users will engage with one another. Here the reverse effect is in play.