A government agency set up to check whether applicants for jobs working with children pose a threat can't begin operations because its IT systems aren't ready.
The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) began taking registrations from organisations which employ adults who work with minors or other vulnerable members of society back in May, with a view to being able to offer record checks from July.
To do this the CRB's IT systems needed to be able to check the Police National Computer (PNC), local police force data, and records held by the Department of Health and the Department for Education and Employment.
But Capita, which won the 10-year £400m contract, and the Home Office are running behind schedule and sources suggest that the agency won't begin trials of the system until late October. Capita refused to comment on the delay.
A Home Office spokesman told vnunet.com: "There's no major problem. It's simply a complex project that has overrun by a couple of months. We're not going to launch the systems until they are efficient, accurate and effective."
The project has also been delayed by the poor quality of data held on the PNC, for which the police have been criticised by both the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee and the Office of the Information Commissioner.
Some 65 per cent of records on the PNC are believed to need updating, with many cases still marked 'pending' 12 months after being resolved.
Local police forces are now working to update the records and Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary is due to report back on their efforts next month.
The CRB is just the latest public sector IT project to be delayed or scrapped, costing the taxpayer an estimated £1bn plus since 1997.
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