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Gov retreats on vetting database but ain't climbing down

Balls throws vetting critics a bone

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Yet this euphoria over change exposes a basic truth behind the Vetting Scheme – which is that it has little to do with the actual safety of vulnerable groups and everything with government giving the appearance of such.

A short glance through the ISA "Mythbusters" page reveals a series of circumstances, from a teenager keeping an old person company, to an old person keeping a teenager company (these are separate categories, according to the ISA) which, common sense dictates, are precisely the sort of circumstance where trust – and therefore the possibility of exploitation and abuse – arises.

Yet these are specifically excluded. So, too, are the partners of parents hosting exchange students – even though nothing short of vetting partners would have successfully stopped the activities of Ian Huntley, who in many quarters is regarded as the excuse for this entire scheme in the first place.

The problem, of course, is that the circumstances in which trust is most likely to be engendered – and therefore where abuse is most possible – are also circumstances that go so close to cherished personal values in the UK that Government dare not look the real issues in the eye.

Last but by no means least are the numbers to be vetted. Although previous policy changes have failed to elicit the slightest change from the Home Office, this latest volte-face has instantly drawn out the bald statement that the vetting total, initially estimated at 11 million, will now reduce by two million.

Unless it was calculated using the same model as that used initially by the Home Office, this figure is pure guesstimate. We have asked the DCSF to let us know who the expert is who did the calculation and how it calibrated its work against the original estimate, but so far have received no response. ®

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