Speed of Paedophile Checks Criticised; VOLUNTARY WORK: Groups Claim Criminal Records Bureau a Risk to Their Futures

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Byline: PATRICK FLETCHER

VOLUNTARY groups have accused the new Criminal Records Bureau of putting their futures at risk.

The organisation set up to stop paedophiles from working with children is being accused of delays and bureaucracy that is putting the future of some Welsh charities at risk.

The CRB is required to carry out background checks on every person who wants to do voluntary work with children or vulnerable adults.

But critics accuse it of not being able to cope with demand and creating a bureaucratic structure that makes it almost impossible to actually get the checks done.

It started operating in March and promised that deep background checks known as Enhanced Disclo-sures would be turned around in three weeks.

But organisations such as St John Ambulance in Wales are still waiting six weeks on for responses to applications.

And voluntary groups in Wales fear that the situation may not only put people off volunteering but lead to some groups turning help away.

Last night it was revealed that charities in Mid and North Wales were most at risk because of a lack of socalled umbrella organisations to do vital preliminary work and because of the charges some of them will be making for their services. Simon Thomas, Plaid Cymru MP for Ceredigion said last night, ``The situation is bad enough and there is the potential for it to get even worse.

``We do need to have these checks, but the answer has to be for the CRB to be sufficiently funded to process applications quickly enough in a way that doesn't cause these kinds of problems. It's not equitable for voluntaryorganisations to be paying the bill because it will simply cost them too much.''

There are only 15 umbrella organisations set up in Wales and they act as a kind of gatekeeper for the CRB. …