|http://www.sina.com.cn 2005/05/20 21:15 国际在线|
Royal employees will be subject to stricter security checks similar to those faced by Metropolitan Police officers, it was disclosed yesterday.
The move is part of an overhaul of vetting procedures close to being agreed between the Queen's officials and Scotland Yard, which has estimated the costs involved at nearly ?140,000. It follows a Government report warning that the existing system carried weaknesses that could leave it exposed to a terrorist threat.
It is thought the new system will be able to search Government-held information which might prove or disprove identity or nationality, as well as data from private sector agencies and the internet. Financial backgrounds and some job references may also be doubled-checked by police.
The Royal Household has traditionally assessed the suitability for employment of applicants and has taken up references. But it does not have access to the same confidential sources of information as police and has relied on Scotland Yard to check the Police National Computer (PNC) for criminal convictions, and MI5 to check whether the applicant has terrorist links.
However, a successful bogus application by a reporter in 2003, which enabled him to get a job as a footman in Buckingham Palace at the time of the American president's visit, raised concerns that this system could not be relied on to spot dishonest applications.
The Royal Household's security chief, Brig Jeffrey Cook, and Scotland Yard have been negotiating a set of new police/royal vetting "protocols". They will be sent for approval to the Home Office's Royal and VIP Executive Committee, which oversees the policy and funding of royal security.
A report by Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, to the Met Police Authority (MPA) discloses that Scotland Yard's SO14 Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Squad is estimating that it will spend ?136,000 a year on five extra vetting staff.
This would represent a significant expansion of its royal vetting operation. In 2003-2004, SO14 spent around ?70,000 carrying out 17,000 PNC checks of "potential employees of the royal household".
It is not known how many of those 17,000, which includes part-time staff, contractors and some visitors, will be subject to the more stringent checks, which may vary in depth depending on the level and proximity of access to the Royal Family.
Given data protection rules, it is likely applicants will be asked to consent to the extra checks. Anyone not consenting is unlikely to be considered for a job.
The Royal Household will continue to make the final decision on employment, police sources said.
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