Sector leaders oppose charging volunteers for 'portable' criminal records checks

Letter to ministers is signed by Justin Davis Smith of Volunteering England and 27 others

Justin Davis Smith
Justin Davis Smith

Volunteering England and leaders of 27 major charities and voluntary sector umbrella bodies have called on the government not to charge volunteers for the planned portable Criminal Records Bureau checks. 

The Protection of Freedoms Bill, which is before Parliament, proposes two types of criminal records check from 2013: a one-off check, which would remain free for volunteers as under the existing system, and a portable one based on a continuously updated criminal records database, which would allow an individual to work or volunteer for a number of organisations.

A Home Office spokesman said earlier this month the government was considering whether volunteers would have to pay a yearly subscription for the portable check.

In a letter to the Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone and Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, Justin Davis Smith, chief executive of Volunteering England, and 27 other senior sector figures, including Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and Kevin Curley, chief executive of Navca, call on the government to pledge to make the proposed portable checks free for volunteers.

"In the current system CRB checks are free but not portable, but government risks solving one problem only to create another if in the proposed new system they are portable but not free," the letter says.

"If the cost of the online system is passed on to volunteers, it would provide a perverse incentive to apply for a new check for each role. This would represent additional costs and unnecessary bureaucracy for the organisations involved," it says.

"Some of us have already conveyed our concerns to government that any costs could have a negative effect on volunteering. Therefore, while volunteers across the country tirelessly continue to give their time for the benefit of our communities, we ask government to ensure they are not burdened with unnecessary paperwork and costs."

A spokesman for the Home Office said portable checks would be subject to a fee to recover the costs of the service and the government was considering how this would be administered.

"The Protection of Freedoms Bill contains a number of proposals aimed at scaling back the system to bring a long-overdue element of common sense," he said.

Full list of signatories

Justin Davis Smith

Chief executive, Volunteering England

 

Sir Stephen Bubb

Chief executive, Acevo

 

John Ramsey

Head of volunteering, Age UK

 

Karen Sparkes

Head of volunteering, Barnado’s

 

Sir Nick Young

Chief executive, British Red Cross

 

Tom Flood CBE

Chief executive, BTCV

 

Lynne Berry OBE

Vice chair, Canal and River Trust

 

Maggie Jones

Chief executive, Children England

 

Clive Martin

Director, Clinks

 

Denise King

Chief executive, Girl Guiding UK

 

Lucy de Groot

Chief executive, CSV

 

Jeff Skip

Chief executive, Deafblind UK

 

Sonia Douek

Head of volunteering, Jewish Care

 

Ruth Bravery

Director of volunteering, Marie Curie Cancer Care

 

Helen Timbrell

Director of volunteering, The National Trust

 

Kevin Curley

Chief executive, Navca

 

Sir Stuart Etherington

Chief executive, NCVO

 

Susanne Rauprich

Chief executive, NCYVS

 

Lesley-Anne Alexander

Chief executive, RNIB

 

Alan Murray

Head of volunteering development, RSPB

 

Tim Lamb

Chief executive, Sport and Recreation Alliance

 

Paul Woodward

Chief executive, Sue Ryder Care

 

Derek Twine

Chief executive, The Scout Association

 

Helen Varley

Volunteer services manager, Sported

 

Jon Barrick

Chief executive, The Stroke Association

 

Terry Ryall

Chief executive, v, the National Young Volunteer Service

 

Vandna Gohil

Director, Voice4Change England

 

David McCullough

Chief executive, WRVS

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