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Humble staple is spanner in the works at criminal check bureau

STAPLING sheets of paper together or fixing spelling mistakes with correction fluid may not seem like acts of sabotage. But teachers doing just that are causing "considerable delay" with applications for criminal record checks.

The Criminal Records Bureau insists schools will not see a repeat of last summer's fiasco when hundreds of children were sent home because of delays with checks on their teachers.

But the agency is warning teachers that they must take care to avoid common errors which can delay the scanning and processing of application forms.

The bureau lists four common mistakes: "using correction fluid, attaching staples, forgetting to sign it once completed and sending it back to the CRB rather than handing it back to their employer for checking and countersigning".

John O'Brien, director of the bureau, said it was vital to watch out for these errors and send in applications early to allow for a four week turn-around. "Mistakes can result in disproportionate delays to the process," he said.

The CRB is run as a public-private partnership between the Home Office and Capita, which has a pound;400 million 10-year contract.

The bureau recently angered heads and supply agencies by increasing the price for vetting each teacher from pound;12 to pound;29.

Teachers with queries about CRB applications can call 0870 9090811 or visit www.disclosure.gov.uk

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