Criminal record checks could hit over 14 million people

New CRB regs produce a nation of suspects

Individuals who work on web sites either as moderators or controllers of the content of that site will need need to be ISA-registered where they have contact with users of the service. A recent job ad from Haringey Council required a web designer for their Young Person's internet Information site to be CRB checked.

Caught in the web

Look at the job ads, and you will find, increasingly, a requirement for any web designers to be CRB checked. Unless the ISA actively resists, then this particular form of creep-cum-back-protection is likely to get worse.

Employment agencies are insisting on CRB checking, because that covers them with their clients. Local government seems hell bent on extending checking, because then they, too, cover their backs. The question of whether Parking Enforcement Officers should be CRB checked is an interesting one.

A quick google reveals that authorities as diverse as Canterbury, Bexley, Blackpool and Merton are all now setting CRB checks as a condition of employment in the Parking enforcement area - although oddly for four totally different and in some cases contradictory reasons.

Plumbers and handymen of all species now regularly boast of their CRB check status. First, because once one plumber gets CRB-checked, everyone else feels they need to do so. Second, and more seriously, many small tradesmen will be employed as contractors by larger firms seeking local government contracts which might involve working in schools or care homes. These organisations do not want to lose a tender because they cannot satisfy Council requirements for CRB-checking, so, again, in order to work with such an organisation, you will need to be CRB-checked.

Government consultation makes much of the distinction between drivers who are employed specifically to ferry vulnerable persons around and those who are not. Discussions on the ground appear very clearly to reflect the same concerns that companies cannot tender for contracts without pre-registration. They will therefore err on the side of caution, and the Home Office will not intervene.

Guidance to date seems to assume that only individuals specifically employed in circumstances that bring them into contact with children will be registered. The evidence on CRB-checking is that this is not what is happening, which means that government estimates of future registration are based on wishful thinking.

The only area where the Home Office seems likely to resist unrestrained checking is in the voluntary sector - and this because government picks up the cost.

Our own view (see Geek note on analysis) is that a figure as high as 7.5 million volunteers needing to be registered is not unrealistic. This is based both on published data - and again, on our review of what is happening in clubs and societies when it comes to CRB-checking. Even where individuals are not obliged to do so by law, they are often opting to do so.

That does not even begin to address informal volunteering, which includes a further five million individuals who carry out childcare or babysitting. Some of this will be so informal as to be off the radar for the SVGA. But babysitting for money still goes on: and unless the government has completely discarded all notion of free market principles, it is inevitable that if the SVGA has any effect whatsoever, those minded to abuse will simply move the focus of their activities to the non-regulated areas.

Expect scandal, hindsight and a further widening of regulated activity over the next five years. Remember, too, that all of the above is long before the working out of pilot schemes, now in place in four areas, which will enable single mums to check out the past sexual history of new partners.

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