London, July 5 : An agency of the British Home Office has ruined the lives of many innocent people by wrongly branding them as criminals, reports The Daily Telegraph.
According to the paper, thousands are being forced to have multiple Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks for different jobs because these checks are currently non-transferable.
People applying to take up jobs as teachers, nurses, childminders and even those volunteering to work with youth groups are likely to have been among those falsely accused of wrongdoing by the CRB.
As a result, these victims have been stigmatised by their communities. They also face having to endure an appeals process to clear their names.
The CRB was set up to vet those working with children or vulnerable people. It carries out checks on criminal convictions, cautions and reprimands, while an enhanced check also examines any other "relevant and proportionate" information held by local police forces.
However, figures seen by The Daily Telegraph disclose that in the year to February 2008, 680 people were issued with incorrect information on their background checks by the CRB.
The disclosure is likely to deter many from applying for positions that require a check.
The paper has further learnt that the CRB is plagued by delays and mistakes that jeopardise its efficiency.
Meanwhile, Ministers are planning a massive increase in the number of criminal records checks carried out on members of the public. The number of checks processed annually by CRB has risen from 1.5 million in 2002-04 to almost three million over the past year.
Under future plans, more than 11 million adults - one in four of the adult population in England - will have to be vetted and registered on the authority's database.
The Home Office last night admitted that mistakenly branding innocent people as criminals was "regrettable".