Vetting database shows suspicion and spying are the new trust
Manifesto Club dissect guidelines
"The Government’s desire to regulate all 'relations of trust' between adults and children has created a suspicious and irrational policy, with absurd distinctions between who will and who will not be checked."
That is the conclusion of a just published report - "Regulating Trust: who will be on the vetting database?"- written by Josie Appleton on behalf of the Manifesto Club, an organisation dedicated to campaigning against what it sees as the hyper-regulation of everyday life.
The report notes that the new law on Safeguarding and Vetting of adults comes into force in October – but with just two months to go, the rules that set down who will and who will not be on the database have yet to be written. It argues that the rules that we do know of are riddled with inconsistencies and bogged down in a mess of nit-picking regulations, which are the inevitable result of civil servants attempting to write down all the circumstances in which a relationship of trust can arise.
Examples of inconsistencies include:
- A teacher in an FE college teaching 16 and 17 year olds would be on the database, but an adult coach of a mixed-age sports team that included 16/17-year olds would not
- A self-employed tennis coach would not have to be checked, but if he took on a volunteer, the volunteer would have to be checked
It also likens the update process for vetting to a massive and continuous Big Brother tweet, as employers will eventually register to receive regular "status updates" on their employees.
However, it is in the debate over what level of exposure to children and vulnerable adults will count for the purposes of vetting that the ludicrousness of the guidelines are fully exposed. Their aim is to regulate any instances where a "relationship of trust" can arise. This can occur whenever "care, supervision, teaching, training or instruction" of children is "frequent", "intensive" or "overnight".
- Within the existing guidelines are a host of micro-managerial rules designed to allow individuals to spot whether any of the above conditions apply. Thus, "frequently" will mean "once a month on an ongoing basis". An "ongoing basis" is defined as "the third time the activity is carried out at least once a month, and this test is satisfied the moment an activity has been carried out three times in any period of up to 3 months".
- The underlying assumption behind this rule is that individuals will carefully diarise every contact they have with children – and promptly register themselves the moment they realise they have crossed a threshold.
Whilst this may sound ludicrous, the report also highlights the unforgiving nature of the new laws: the severe penalties for employers and individuals if they get them wrong; and the rejection of ignorance as a defence.
The report also highlights the point, which El Reg put to the Department of Children Schools and Families (DCSF) when seeking to understand why writers might need to be registered, but Ministers not.
The guidelines at present are clear that where an adult meets different children "frequently", this would be sufficient to trigger a registration requirement.
The report further notes a tendency by government departments to present being monitored as a sign of an adult’s decency, and not being monitored is a sign of their suspicion. When Josie Appleton challenged the Home Office official in charge of the vetting database about a potential rebellion against vetting, she writes that his response was that if somebody didn’t want to be vetted "there must be suspicious reasons for that".
Despite this, El Reg has made no further progress in finding any Government Minister happy to volunteer for the process. We also challenged the DCSF on this comment, but to date have received no reply.
In conclusion, the report argues that "the vetting database has wasted enough time and money, and done enough damage to informal relationships - and should be urgently reconsidered". ®
CRB checks for parents? Yep - coming soon.
"In a few years there will be nobody left who is prepared to put up with the suspicion, bureaucracy, vetting and general bottom inspection involved in having anything to do with children other than your own."
Ah no - it's gone further than that already. The government now proposes to give Local Authorities right of entry (without a warrant) to the homes of home-educating families and the power to take their children away and question them without their parents - not just where there is any suggestion of wrongdoing, but as a matter of routine. So parents who home educate will automatically be suspected of abusing THEIR OWN CHILDREN and will have to prove that they are not. Of course, it's only a matter of time before they extend that to all pre-school children, schooled children during the school holidays and at weekends, and so on, and so on... Given that many home educating parents have withdrawn their children from school because they were bullied, or because the state education system was failing them, or because they have special needs that were not being met by that system, and given that freedom of information requests have shown that home educated children have a vastly lower abuse rate than those who go to school, home educators are understandably pretty upset about this. But the government must be seen to be 'doing something' about child abuse, and they're a soft target.
Who will vet the vetters?
Who will meddle with the meddlers?
Who will police the Police?
Why is there only one monopolies commission?
Perhaps there is a "database" of these SuperBeings!
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh............................. They are coming to take me away!!!
Unless not until
It's "innocent unless proven guilty", the use of the word "until" pre-supposes the result and implies that it is a matter of time until we are all guilty.