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Criminal records bureau falsely brands people as criminals and refuses to apologise

Posted by James Hammerton @ 3:34 pm on 11 June, 2006.
Categories privacy and surveillance, political liberties.
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So much for the “nothing to hide, nothing to fear argument”. It appears those who are innocent can get branded as criminals when the government performs background checks. The Criminal Records Bureau was recently found to have incorrectly labelled over a thousand people as criminals:

Nearly 1,500 innocent people have been wrongly branded as criminals by the Home Office, leading to them losing jobs or being barred from taking up courses, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

In an extraordinary series of blunders, law-abiding citizens ranging from court ushers to teenage students have been labelled pornographers, thieves and violent robbers by the department’s Criminal Records Bureau.

The errors have led to people being refused jobs or university courses and even being threatened with the sack.

Victims have to suffer the indignity of going to their local police station to be fingerprinted in order to prove they are not criminals. And incredibly the Home Office initially refused to apologise for this latest fiasco - and instead blamed the victims for having similar names and dates of birth to convicted criminals. ‘’

In fact a later report from the BBC put the number of people falsely labelled as criminals at 2,700:

Some 2,700 people have been wrongly labelled as criminals by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB), it has emerged.

The mistakes have led to some people being turned down for jobs.

The Home Office said the errors arose when personal details were similar to those of people with a conviction, but were “a tiny proportion of cases”.

It said 90% of disputes were resolved within 21 days and, while errors were regrettable, it would not apologise for its “caution”.

Education Secretary Alan Johnson told the BBC only 0.03% of the nine million “disclosures” the agency makes had been wrong, so the issue had to be put “into context”.

Emma Budd, from Maesteg, South Wales, lost out on a job she was offered by a children’s charity when she was incorrectly identified by the CRB as a convicted shoplifter.

She said: “Because they sent the CRB check to the employee and the employer at the same time, the job just went out the window.

“Then I had a letter of apology which said it wasn’t their fault.

Note the refusal of the CRB or the government to apologise for actions that have led to people losing jobs they’ve applied for.

Will this be the pattern when people’s lives are messed up due to incompetence in the administration of the national identity cards scheme?


  1. Education Secretary Alan Johnson told the BBC only 0.03% of the nine million “disclosures” the agency makes had been wrong, so the issue had to be put “into context”.

    Which “context” is this ?

    A figure of 2700 out of 9 million is statistically insignificant - 0.03%

    However the figure of 25,000 CRB reports which claim that people are unsuitable for a job with access to children or some other position of trust is also statistically insignificant i.e. less than 0.28%

    Since the 2700 falsely accused people are included in the 25,000 figure that makes about 1 in 9 of these reports a false negative.

    If the reason for these awful figures, is mix ups with similar names and addresses, surely it would be reasonable to assume that a similar number of people with criminal records or other Police intelligence, List 99, ViSOR etc. blacklists, who are unsuitable for work with children or in a position of trust, have been mistakenly “cleared” by their CRB checks i.e. false postives.

    Is Alan Johnson, who is now the Eduction Secretary, really so ignorant of statistics, or is he being extremely “economical with the truth” ?

    Comment by Watching Them, Watching Us — 12 June, 2006 @ 1:20 pm | Edit This

  2. You might care to look at: for some further informatation about CRB discolsures

    Comment by W — 17 June, 2006 @ 8:37 am | Edit This

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