West Midlands organisations team up for online criminal records checks

Public sector organisations in West Midlands say they are making savings by sharing online Criminal Record Bureau checks system

West Midlands public sector organisations involved in a partnership for online Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) checks have said the collaboration has helped drive up efficiency and reduce staffing costs.

According to West Midlands Councils, which brings together all 33 local authorities in the region, careers site WMJobs is the first partnership of public sector organisations in the country to deliver online CRB checks. The WMJobs website is managed by West Midlands Councils on behalf of 28 public sector organisations in the region.

Under plans to move away from a paper-based process, save money and improve the recruitment process of frontline posts, the WMJobs system is being supported by Capita’s e-bulk service. Coventry city council, which carries out up to 6,000 CRB checks every year, said it is on course to save up to 44% on staffing costs since the implementation of the system last July.

“e-bulk has dramatically improved our recruitment service. We receive online applications from candidates within 24 hours, which is far more efficient and means we can place people in jobs quicker than before. We can also check an application’s progress as it goes through,” said Jane Crawley, HR recruitment manager at the council.

While Capita’s online CRB service inputs the same information as the previous paper based version, the checking process has been simplified as the new system eliminates data errors, helping to prevent delays and reducing manual administration.

Manny Sandhu, senior people and leadership consultant at West Midlands Councils told Guardian Government Computing that working solely with paper was problematic at times and could be quite time consuming. She said that the new service had had positive feedback from the organisations involved.

“It’s been very successful so far, and it is definitely more efficient than the paper based system that was in place before. It’s about collaboration and driving down procurement costs, because we’re purchasing as a partnership,” she said.

Sandhu also revealed that other regions had expressed interest in the the new system and wanted to find out more about how the partnership was delivering the service. She said that West Midlands Councils welcomed sharing best practice with other regions about how it had implemented the new process.

The region, which has a history of collaboration, believes that its WMJobs partnership is on course to save more than £2.6m across the West Midlands by 2014.

This article is published by Guardian Professional. For weekly updates on news, debate and best practice on public sector IT, join the Guardian Government Computing network here.

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