New single-check criminal screening system to be launched by the Government to help people find jobs

A radical overhaul of the Government's criminal checking system will mean that millions of paid workers and volunteers in the UK will only have to undergo a single check in the future, according to the Home Office.

Under the current system individuals must apply for a new criminal record check each time they apply for a new job, but under the new plans, which come into effect from next spring, they will only have to apply once to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for certificates.

Once certificates are awarded, an online service will allow organisations and employers to check whether they are valid.

Volunteers will be allowed free use of the DBS service, while those in paid positions will be charged a small annual subscription fee.

The DBS has been created by the merger of two other Government organisations, the Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority and it will be joined by the National Apprenticeship Service, tax self-assessment and registering intellectual property in the first tranche of public services to be moved fully online by 2015.

The Cabinet Office predicts that moving these services onto the internet will make savings of 1.2 billion by 2015 and the burden on the taxpayer will then be 1.7 billion less each year afterwards.

The new system represents a "hugely important boost" to unpaid workers, according to Volunteering England (VE), an independent charity and membership organisation committed to supporting, enabling and celebrating volunteering.

The VE had campaigned against charging volunteers to use the DBS system and its chief executive, Dr Justin Davis Smith, said the move would help "sustain the enthusiasm for volunteering created by the Olympics and Paralympics".

Volunteers who work for more than one organisation stand to benefit most from the plans, along with paid workers such as junior or locum doctors who have to move between hospitals, and workers looking for employment who are registered with several agencies.

Copyright Press Association 2012