ESSEX County Council carried out more criminal records bureau checks than any other local authority last year, figures reveal.

Staff at County Hall made almost 22,000 checks in 2011.

It could have cost the county’s taxpayers as much as £1million.

The council ranked 13th highest out of more than 2,000 organisations carrying out checks.

Campaign group Big Brother Watch revealed three million checks were completed last year.

A spokesman for Essex County Council said the authority undertakes checks for many organisations and services, such as other public sector organisations, charities, social care providers and schools.

Private companies topped the list with Atlantic Data making 180,995 checks and CRB-checking firm TMGCRB making 122,874.

The Scout Association made 58,786 checks, ranking it fifth, while Essex County Council was listed 13th and the highest authority after making 21,908.

The Home Office criticised the amount the system is used and confirmed reforms are taking place.