The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) is sticking to its new timetable and will go live with the serious offenders computer system next month.
The CRB system was initially planned for launch in the summer of 2001, but was put back until March 2002 because more tests were needed, as revealed by vnunet.com's sister publication Computing last year.
The CRB is being developed by the Home Office and Capita to help employers and voluntary organisations identify serious offenders such as paedophiles.
It replaces a service run by the police which can take months to check on a suspect. The CRB will provide a check within three weeks.
CRB chief executive Bernard Herdan said: "We are sticking to the timetable. We doubled the time to test the services and that was completed on schedule. We found things that needed fixing, and then there's more testing, but it's pretty much complete."
The CRB is currently testing business continuity and disaster recovery plans, and running final trials using live data. In March customers using the existing police system for criminal record checks will be switched to the new system. The CRB expects to handle around three million disclosures a year.
Herdan told vnunet.com that no single problem had caused the delay to the launch. "It has just been the complexity of the project," he said.
He explained that building secure interfaces with different police systems took time, as did enforcing security across the whole service. "We had to have a high level of security accreditation and that's why it's taken longer than expected," he said.
The CRB relies on data from the Police National Computer, which has been criticised over the quality of data and delays in inputting convictions into the system.
Maintaining that this will not be an issue for the CRB, Herdan said: "Most errors won't have an effect on the CRB because they will be things like people's shoe sizes; the kind of operational data that we don't need. We looked at a large sample and, for our needs, it's pretty accurate.
"Only around one to two per cent gives us cause for concern. It will never be 100 per cent but it is much better than the impression that has been given."
The CRB plans further links into other law enforcement databases, and may in future link into similar systems in other countries, added Herdan.
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