A quarter of UK adults to go on child protection database
11.3 million working with children to be vetted
“The death of informality”. That was how Josie Appleton, convenor of the Manifesto Club, described the results of the second government consultation on the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).
The ISA is the child of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006.
From next year, all those who wish to work, either paid or unpaid, with children or vulnerable adults will need to be vetted. Those who fail the vetting will be barred from obtaining such work. Individuals who seek to work in these areas, knowing that they have been barred, will be committing a criminal offence. Registration will cost £64 per person, although this will be waived for those only wishing to work in an unpaid voluntary capacity. This initiative will be supported by a central database, holding the details of 11.3 million people, or slightly more than a quarter of the adult population. This is an increase of nearly 3 million over initial Home Office estimates, making it the most extensive database of its kind in the world. The scheme launch has been put back to next year as a result of ‘concerns about data security’ and extra work needed to ensure its database was ‘robust’.
The ISA is due to take up its full responsibilities in October 2009. It recently announced its appointment of a board to supervise future work, under the chairmanship of Roger Singleton, former chief executive at Barnardo’s. Concern focuses on two areas.
According to Appleton, who is co-ordinating a national campaign against this new legislation, 'The vetting database is based on the misconception that it is possible for the state to regulate every interaction between adults and children. If only 'state-approved' adults can relate to children, we'll see the death of the many informal clubs, societies and nurseries that are so important for children's development.'
Who volunteers to be vetted?
The Manifesto Club documents an increasing number of areas – such as golf clubs and flying model aeroplanes – where increased vetting requirements look likely to result in volunteer organisations simply banning under-18s.
However, Kate Engles, policy & information officer for Volunteering England believes the scheme will be helpful: “At present, there is some degree of confusion as to what checks are needed for volunteers – so this will help create clarity. It will also bring a more consistent approach to determining who is suitable to work in specific areas. We are not aware of any research that suggests this scheme is likely to harm volunteering overall”.
Volunteering England is a government-supported charity, set up to promote volunteering in the UK.
A rather different issue is just who will be barred from employment. The database will monitor those who are “judged to be a risk”. However “expert” the basis for this judgment, there is the suspicion that this may introduce either a subjective element – or be based on a statistical technique not unlike credit scoring.
It goes well beyond targeting those guilty of child abuse. Minor incidents, such as forgetting to renew a fishing license can see an individual’s livelihood called into question when recorded by the Criminal Records Bureau.
More ominously, the new database is likely to include List 99 data, which takes the criteria for barring into the broader areas of misconduct. In time, there is a fear that the database could also carry “soft data”. This would include things such as dropped charges and allegations in respect of conduct, which some organisations argued should be more widely shared following the Soham murders. Critics warn that this could result in individuals being barred from jobs just for being slightly ‘weird’.
Mick Brooks, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers argued that the proposals were overbearing: “Children’s welfare is important. But we have serious concerns over the new system. It adds bureaucracy. It adds delay. And there is the serious issue that information is not always accurate, with the result that individuals can wrongly lose jobs or have their lives destroyed.”
The database will also hold details of current employment. In this, it goes beyond the existing CRB database – and will be a most useful addition to any future national ID base.
The most recent consultation does little to change any of the above. Its single most important conclusion is that we will not (yet) require individuals working with young people doing work experience to be registered. ®
Actually, most right-thinking people already assume that scout masters are paedophiles, or at least thinking about it. When this is force and there are no scout troops left, we'll know we were right.
Only if alone with kids
As far as I understand it, you only need a CRB check if you're going to be alone with kids. So you can help out with Scouts or whatever without being checked so long as there is always another CRB checked adult with you. Don't know if this would continue with the new system though.
CRB checks gurantee nothing
Too much is put into the wonders of the CRB check. As yet there is nothing illegal about giving false details to any voluntary group, it is not even illegal to carry false ID unless it is for "percuniary advantage!" All the CRB check says is that the person checked has never been charged with any offence that may bring them into conflict with the people they interact with in the position they hold.
Experience has shown that the dangerous individuals in this country are always one step ahead of our guardians as they are not a grow of idiotic dirty old men. Many are well educated and well versed and they ensure that the those who are not amongst their ranks are kept in check. These people are very well organised, something that studies have shown time and time again.
The current 2003 Sexual Offences Act is showing its weaknesses by the fact that an increasing number of cases are being dropped as it is becoming clear that there are more and more false allegations being made. Reference to the SAFARI website www.safari-org.uk is showing an increasing number of these cases. If you read the act it is all too clear how easy it is to become convicted on a lie. It also shows up an alarming number of repeat false accusers who arwe believed time and time again!
My biggest worry and it is now becoming increasingly evident is the number of people who have done nothing wrong in their lives falling foul of the CRB checks as they have a similar name. There are also now special needs teachers who accept as part of their job that they will suffer false accusatuions finding that they are dis-barred from their work due to over -zealous police and social services investigations.
Yes we need to protect our children and vulnerrable, but the simple fact is that the actual abuser of will be more than likely located under your own roof! 95% of chiild abuse is committed by a family member or someone who is directly involved with your family. There are also an increasing number of cases of family abuse towards the elderly as well. Those facts are something that the government and media always tend to overlook. Then again, if they didn't how would they frighten the public into believing that they were producing guff like this to protect the "children and vulnerable" or sell their poor quality newspapers?
All this new bit of legislation will do is drive more people away from volunteering. I have already seriously reduced the time I give freely to help out on community projects and this new gem will now see me withdraw completely. I have nothing to hide and I need an enhanced CRB for my job, but I accept that as I need to earn a luiving. I'll be damned if I have to go through the same just to give my time away freely, whether it costs £64 or not.
This idea is not to advance protection, it's been concieved by a piss poor government to show to "Fleet Street" editors that it is doing something positive! I can see all of the knees jerking merrily in the cabinet office as I type!