Blunders by British police and the Criminal Records Bureau has led to at least 13,000 people being wrongly branded as criminals or accused of more serious offences, reports The Telegraph.
According to the paper the exact number of inaccurate criminal record checks is four times higher than the Home Office has previously stated.
AdvertisementThe discrepancy in figures has occurred because the official statistics only include the errors made by CRB officials. Thousands more mistakes, made by other contributors to the checks, such as the police and education officials, have not been counted.
Some errors in the disclosure of so-called "soft information", such as police suspicions or when someone was questioned but released without charge, have also been kept out of the official statistics.
Reacting to this error, Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said: "The increase in the number of incorrect disclosures is disturbing. These are mistakes that risk ruining people's lives. It is especially worrying given the enhanced role of the CRB in support of the new ISA, which will vet millions of people, including teachers, volunteers and school bus drivers."
Others like Josie Appleton of the Manifesto Club described the statistic as shocking, but not surprising.
"The more the Government tries to solve a problem with a huge database and masses of information flying around the country, then the more errors there are going to be," he warned.
Over the last five years, according to figures obtained from the Home Office by the Conservatives, a total 12,255 disputes over inaccurate CRB checks have been upheld. For the last year, the official inaccuracy figure stood at around 680, but the new statistics show the true level of error was 2,785.
These include inaccurate or misleading details on cases where there was no conviction, such as someone being questioned for an alleged offence but never charged.
The figures only go back to 2003, but the CRB was set up in 2002, suggesting that the number of blunders could be much nearer 13,000.