Page last updated at 18:53 GMT, Friday, 14 August 2009 19:53 UK

PSNI system 'risks Soham scheme'

Police Service of Northern Ireland crest
Sir Ian Magee said there was a 'specific problem' with the PSNI

A UK-wide vetting scheme for people working with children faces difficulty because of a problem with the PSNI's computer system, it's been claimed.

A former top civil servant has said some criminal records still aren't being shared with other police forces.

A government report in 2004, prompted by the Soham murders, recommended that such documents be more easily exchanged electronically.

But there is still a "specific problem" with the PSNI, Sir Ian Magee has said.

In response, Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland said: "PSNI systems do not pose a risk to current UK vetting systems designed to protect children and vulnerable adults.

"A tried and tested procedure is in place to ensure that all relevant vetting checks for people working with children and vulnerable adults in the UK is carried out expeditiously in line with agreed national protocols.

"The PSNI are working with the Home Office and the National Police Improvement Agency to achieve a long term technological solution to enhance this process even further."

'Limited'

Sir Ian carried out a Home Office review into how recommendations made in the post-Soham Bichard Inquiry were being implemented.

In 2008, he reported there were "only limited links" between the Police National Computer (PNC) in GB and Northern Ireland police information.

It meant that only information relating to sex offences and some other very serious offences in Northern Ireland was put on to PNC.

He said he expected the issue to have been resolved by the early part of this year, but he has told BBC Radio 4's The Report that when he checked the problem remained.

Questions

"In order to get that sharing of information between Northern Ireland and the mainland as far as the police national computer is concerned, there is a cost associated with it, and the issue as to who should pay for change to be made still hadn't been resolved when I went back in the springtime," said Sir Ian.

"It may be the expense of £3m has to take its place in the queue against other priorities, and I perfectly well accept that this could be the case, but that wasn't the answer I was necessarily getting when I was asking my questions earlier on this year."

Former school caretaker Ian Huntley was found guilty of the murder of Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in December 2003.

The two ten-year-old girls vanished from a family barbecue at Holly's house in August 2002.

Previous

Their bodies were found in a ditch nearly two weeks later after one of the biggest police operations the UK has ever seen.

As the news of Huntley's guilty verdict broke, it emerged he had previously been accused of having sex with underage girls and of rape several times in the past.

His girlfriend, Maxine Carr, 26, was sentenced to three and a half years in jail for conspiring to pervert the course of justice by giving a false alibi to police for Huntley on the day of the murders.

From October, everyone who wants to work or volunteer with children or "vulnerable people" will start having to be registered, with compulsory listing from November 2010.

Existing workforces will be incorporated between January 2011 and July 2015.



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SEE ALSO
Q & A: Vetting and Barring Scheme
11 Sep 09 |  Education
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