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Anti-paedo vetting boss warns against relying on databases

Grounds for false confidence

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The man in charge of millions of new anti-paedophile checks has spoken of the "false confidence" over child safety that the scheme could breed.

Sir Roger Singleton, a former Barnados chief executive, is chair of the Independent Safeguarding Authority, launched late last year to screen all prospective workers and volunteers who may have contact with children.

In a speech at an education conference yesterday The Telegraph reports he said: "One of the criticisms that was levied and still is levied against the new Vetting and Barring Scheme is that it could give grounds for false confidence in what registration means.

"Frankly all registration means is that a) you've paid the fee and b) there is no known reason why you should be on one of the barred lists. It's as passive, in a sense, as that."

He cautioned that checks against a database should mean "no diminution in the necessity for those of us who have to engage in employing people to look carefully at the way in which we recruit, train, supervise those staff."

The comments have prompted renewed criticism of the scheme from the Tories, who have pledged to scrap it if they win the election.

Shadow children's minister Tim Loghton said: "This simply reinforces our view that we need a collective dose of common sense, not more time-consuming, expensive and overly bureaucratic databases.

"This scheme will only succeed in stopping the many millions of genuine people who volunteer to help with children and young people."

The government developed the Vetting and Barring scheme in response to the inquiry into the Soham murders. Ministers claim it will provide an extra layer of protection for the vulnerable.

In December, following a public outcry, Ed Balls made significant changes to the scheme so that it does not require parents sharing the school run to be screened for sex offences. ®

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