Would you leave your child alone with a cabinet minister?
Govt says kids safer with politicians than authors
If the problem the DCSF is attempting to solve is that of unsupervised access, the solution is simple: never allow it.
The real issue sits within a consultation exercise that the DCSF carried out in respect of who would need vetting. This addressed the issue of frequency, and concluded that excessively detailed guidelines were unnecessary: it should be left to the courts to determine what constituted significant contact and to deal with individuals trying to avoid being vetted.
However, the report was quite clear about the need to vet individuals whose contact stretched across different individuals in different locations. Par. 33 stated:
"Some respondents were unsure whether contact on different occasions had to be with the same member or members of the relevant vulnerable groups to count towards determining whether the frequency criterion is satisfied, or whether contact with different children or vulnerable adults (as appropriate) is sufficient.
"The answer is that contact with different children or vulnerable adults is sufficient. The reason for this is that what counts is the opportunity to form relationships with particularly vulnerable people in a setting, and this opportunity exists where there is frequent general access as well as access to individual members of the vulnerable groups."
This presumably is why authors visiting different schools over a period of time would need vetting – and why Ministers who visit schools and hospitals probably do too.
Ministers need to take proper legal advice and not simply decide that they are exempt from vetting, as the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 makes it clear that an individual who avoids vetting in this way could be liable to a fine of £5,000 and possibly prison. ®
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