More than 4,000 West Midlands job hunters – including doctors, teachers and carers – have been waiting for more than 60 days for police to complete criminal record checks.
The huge delays have been described as “particularly disappointing” by Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson.
Speaking at a meeting of the Strategic Police and Crime Board he said: “I am asking for this to be addressed as a matter of urgency. In my Policing Plan I have made it a priority to promote economic development in the region. With that in mind the delays that the Disclosure and Barring Service has had in processing checks is particularly disappointing.”
The Disclosure and Barring Service is paid for by the Home Office but operated by individual police forces .
It helps employers check if prospective employees are safe to work with vulnerable groups like children. The checks focus on the forces own internal systems, including custody logs and intelligence records.
Jobs that require the checks include teachers, doctors, taxi drivers, foster carers and care workers.
The Home Office says every application should be completed within 60 days but West Midlands Police has a backlog of more than 4,000 that have missed that deadline with some exceeding more than 100 days.
Before Christmas the backlog of cases was 7,000 people waiting for clearance. The overall number of checks has increased here in the West Midlands by six per cent a year and is expected to hit almost 126,500 over the next 12 months.
The delays have led to an increase in complaints, which has required up to three members of staff to respond to up to 100 inquiries daily.
The force blamed the delays on a complex combination of reasons and warned it would take more than six months to clear the backlog.