Feeds

Vetting database shows suspicion and spying are the new trust

Manifesto Club dissect guidelines

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

"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". ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.