A backlog of over 4,000 people are waiting to start jobs in vital sectors such as teachers, doctors, carers and security professionals as a result of problems with West Midlands Police’s ICT systems.
The police force is currently processing 2,300 criminal record checks weekly, but receives up to 2,400, according to an official report to its strategic crime and policing board.
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is operated by police forces but funded by the Home Office, to help ensure employers do not recruit those who are unsuitable to work with children or other vulnerable groups as part of their job.
The official rules state that 85 percent of applications received should be processed in 14 days, 95 percent in 25 days and 100 percent in 60 days.
However due to the failure to match the number of requests, more than 4,000 people have been waiting over 60 days for West Midlands Police to vet their applications, with the force is performing significantly worse than its counterparts in West Yorkshire and Manchester, the report revealed.
Assistant chief constable Garry Forsyth for West Midlands Police said: “The force’s output is falling below what is expected and it is believed that we increasingly take longer than some forces to research the applicant as our ICT systems grow less reliable and responsive.”
The force awarded Accenture a five-year £25 million contract last July to help improve its use of technology and save money. As part of the contract HP will design a new IT infrastructure focused on supporting ‘mobility, security and data analysis’.
The report said that West Midlands had to process 6,700 extra checks than expected in the year up to last month
The force’s information management head, Kate Jeffries, said “Last year West Midlands Police received approximately 500 DBS applications daily and cleared around 400 of those. This shortfall has resulted in a backlog,”
“This is exceptionally frustrating for those who are awaiting checks and I am extremely sorry for any delay they experience. We are treating the situation very seriously and are working closely with the Disclosure and Baring Service to rectify the situation,” she added.
The force insisted it would be able to clear the applications, saying it had taken measures like 31 new staff and installing new equipment.
However the force has been warned it cannot expect any help with funding from the DBS, which “expects forces to streamline processes and so deliver greater output at no additional cost”.
West Midlands has 8,461 police officers and just over 14,000 employees, making it the second largest police force in the UK after the Metropolitan police.