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Duplicate crime checks for volunteers to be scrapped, Home Office confirms

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People who volunteer in schools and clubs in England and people who need to be vetted for jobs will no longer need duplicate checks on their background, the Home Office has confirmed today.

From Spring 2013 a service will be launched that the Home Office has said, will save time and cut the burden of bureaucracy that volunteers currently face when they apply for work in different roles.

Individuals will only have to apply once to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for a certificate and then with consent, organisations will be able to use an online service for an instant check to find out whether the document is still valid.

At the moment, a person who has been screened to volunteer in a school needs to have a separate check before helping out a different group.

The changes also affect people who need to be vetted for their jobs, such as doctors and agency workers, who often need new checks when moving posts or changing agencies.

Volunteering campaigners have welcomed the move, as unpaid workers will be able to use the online service for free when they apply for different opportunities.

For paid employees, there will be an annual subscription fee.

Individuals who require a DBS check, which can take up to 28 days to complete, currently have to re-apply for a certificate every time they change jobs or in some cases move workplace.

Home Office minister, Lord Taylor (pictured), said the changes would cut bureaucracy and costs for millions of people and organisations.

"The Government is committed to reducing barriers to volunteering while helping to protect vulnerable groups," he said.

"It is a 21st century service that will deliver real benefits without compromising on public safety."

Chief executive of Volunteering England, Justin Davis Smith, also welcomed the changes, saying they would boost volunteering by "cutting red tape".

"We are delighted and relieved that the home secretary has listened to the concerns raised by volunteer-involving organisations by ensuring all aspects of DBS checks remain free to volunteers," he said.

Smith added: "This is particularly significant when charities and public services are looking to sustain the enthusiasm for volunteering created by the Olympics and Paralympics."