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Unusual suspects

Errors question credibility of online police services

The 2005 deadline for all government services to be available online has just hit another wall after serious errors were found in a police database.

This year was supposed to see the launch of two virtual crime-busting systems for the police - a public web portal letting people report crime from PCs and the digitising of all criminal records.

But the second service, serving records from the Criminal Records Bureau and due to go online by July, has been delayed following a request to the Home Office by MPs concerned over the accuracy of data. An audit of the system found a staggering 65 percent of records had errors.

"We have delayed the service because its main purpose is to improve access to justice," said a spokesperson at the Home Office. "Once we were notified of these errors we had no choice but to delay it until all errors have been ironed out."

"We rely on individuals inputting information and unfortunately such a system is open to human error," said a spokesperson at the Criminal Records Bureau.

The aim of the service is to provide users, such as perspective employers, with the ability to run a check on the recorded history of a person for a small fee. Plans by the government to earn £76m in the first two years from the service will now take longer to reach fruition.

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