Plans for a new service using the government's controversial ID cards scheme to speed up criminal record checks have met with approval from volunteers involved in a trial of the technology.
The volunteers piloted two potential online services developed by the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) and the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) which could be used to authenticate the identities of and information supplied by job applicants.
At the trials, all volunteers went through a simulated experience of applying for a position requiring a CRB check. The participants met a prospective employer, filled out the CRB disclosure application form and had their identity authenticated by a counter-signatory. Their criminal record information was then disclosed to the company requesting it.
Each volunteer completed two legs in the trial — one using a passport and one using an ID card.
The passport-based system would use an applicant's UK passport with information from the IPS to make sure the data provided is correct — with this system likely to come into effect before the second system. The second online service would use ID cards issued to UK citizens and foreign nationals residing in the UK for more than three months with information from the IPS to check application data. This system could be introduced in the longer term.
Nearly all (96 percent) of the 160 volunteers said the passport-related service is an improvement on the current arrangement and 71 percent rated it as a "great improvement".
Nearly nine out of 10 volunteers said the ID card-linked service is even more robust than the passport-linked process.
But Phil Booth, national co-ordinator of the NO2ID anti-ID card campaign, criticised the trial because he said it tested the customer experience of the CRB check in isolation, while "glossing over the inconvenience and intrusiveness of the ID system as a whole".
Booth said: "IPS is trying to sell a so-called benefit without any reference to actual cost or reality."