Ineffective controls at Criminal Records Bureau

Link: Home Office faces ‘special’ financial measures

Comptroller and auditor general Sir John Bourn acted after chief executive Bernard Herdan admitted elements of the CRB’s financial systems ‘have proved unreliable, with significant invoicing problems and resultant debtor management difficulties’.

Its first invoice run in May 2002 ‘was overwhelmed by complaints’ and the next run in November wrongly included bills for volunteers for whom the provision of disclosures is supposed to be free of charge.

The CRB was unable to issue correct invoices until February 2003 – in a bid to recover £12m in debt .

Altogether charges totalling £685,000 were made ‘inappropriately’ – with most rectified ‘through customer service actions’ – and this compromised debt management, requiring £432,000 in provision for bad debt.

Bourn said the evidence available to him when auditing CBR accounts was limited in respect of turnover and debtors relating to the volunteers and there was no system of control over these amounts to enable him to check for overstatement.

His opinion states that the accounts ‘give a true and fair view’ with the exception of these issues.

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