Friday, September 11, 2009

It All Comes Down to Trust

From time to time I am invited to give talks in schools about politics. If I understand it correctly, if I am to continue doing this in the future I will have to register on a new government anti-paedophile database, so that people can be reassured I am not likely to interfere with the children while I am there. Even parents who drive their neighbour's kids to school will have to register. The Telegraph has the full story HERE.

I can accept that people who work in schools should be CRB checked, but this scheme goes too far. The whole thing is a dramatic overreaction to the Ian Huntley case. Huntley was a one off. It was probably never possible to prevent what happened to Holly and Jessica, and I doubt whether this scheme will give children 100% protection. It seems to me to be big brother writ large, bureaucracy gone mad and a dramatic extension of the power of the state.

Presumably this scheme will also mean that politicians will have to sign up to it. Local councillors too. Well I for one won't be signing up to it. I don't need to prove my innocence to anyone. Some of you might rejoice in the fact that it may mean I won't be able to impart my words of wisdom to schoolkids any longer. Fair enough. But what about the local historian, what about the local bank manager or careers adviser who decides that they are not going to subject themselves to this? In the end it is the kids themselves who will lose out.

But there is a far more important point to this, and it is about trust. What message does it send out to kids if none of us can be trusted to do the right thing, to behave responsibly when around children? What are they supposed to think? Surely we should be encouraging a culture of trust rather than appearing to want to destroy it. It is just this sort of measure which is eating away at the very foundations of our society, and it is why Anthony Seldon has written an excellent new book on the subject, which will be published this month. It's called TRUST: HOW WE LOST IT & HOW TO GET IT BACK. My new publishing outfit, Biteback, is publishing it. I'm not going to spoil his party, but he delves into why trust is disappearing throughout all aspects of our society - politics, medicine, science, the Police, business, media, you name it. And he then comes up with some measures suggesting how society can regain the trust it has lost over the last few decades.

I know I am the publisher and I am biased, but I really think TRUST will have the same kind of impact as Nudge, or the Tipping Point. You can pre order it HERE.

UPDATE: Chris Grayling has commented...

This scheme cannot be allowed to go ahead in this way. We would review the whole safeguarding process and scale it back so that common sense applies. Of course we have to check out those people who have jobs working with children, but the idea that we would vet 11 million parents is complete nonsense.
For me, that doesn't go far enough. This ridiculous scheme should be abolished. Completely.

UPDATE: Listen to the Children's Minister Baroness Morgan interviewed on TODAY and trying to defend the indefensible.


Anonymous said...

Hi Iain

Trust is the key word but in needs to be understood, I think honsty and a cutting of spin would do the trick quite well .

we know within 10-15 mins of a mp spinning what the truth is , Can Mr Cameron be any different ?

Keep up the good work

St Crispin said...

My daughter's nursery used to love it when I went in to read to her class at afternoon story time.(I'm self employed and work from home). Apparently my reading of the Hairy Mclary books was a winner with the kids.

They said that the kids get too little exposure to male teaching influences since almost all teachers for this age group are female

I guess that's one more thing they won't be getting!!

Nice world we live in?!?!

Philipa said...

The problem with these initiatives is that they are an excuse for doing something about the problem. Would this register actually prevent a peadophile doing what they do? What is the mechanism for convicting a peadophile, do you know, Iain?

This is like ID cards to prevent terrorism - it won't.

North-West Tory said...

I heard Harriet Harman trying to justify this nonsense on the radio the other month. Typical of an ideologically obssessed micro-managing do-gooder. Imagine an Orwellian state governed by Harman and her mates - ugggh

strapworld said...

Iain. You are, of course, correct. It is an over reaction. But it is also a big money spinner.

The Criminal record checks have to be repeated in intervals, because a check can only be correct for that date may be charged with an offence after receiving a clearance!and nobody would be the wiser.

Also, if you move and wish to be employed, you have to apply for a new one and so it goes on and on.

My son's girlfriend had a clearance issued in Belfast. She finished her university course here and applied for jobs, believing her Belfast clearance was sufficient. NO. She had to apply for a new one and so missed out on four job offers.

It takes an absolute age and the CRB is certainly not as efficient as when Scotland Yard started the scheme years ago! with cards in drawers!! no computers in those days.

I often wonder when we see Brown attending schools, as he does regularly with Balls, if they have had the necessary clearances?

But the whole thing is MAD. It is right in certain circumstances, but many organisations are finding it nigh on impossible to get adults to help out now.

I hope the Conservative Party will scrap the whole thing and re-write it using an approach with those two under used but so necessary english words:- COMMON SENSE!

Anonymous said...

This proposal, as well as ID cards and a range of other things, is all to do with the government trying to exercise common sense on our behalf - the nationalisation of common sense, if you like. Those who are implementing this think this is a measure which will make everyone safer. It won't. In the long run, it will encourage people to abdicate personal responsibility to the state and the state won't be able to cope.

Bath plugs for the many, not the few said...

These measures will only add to the hysteria of suspicion that's grown up over the past few years, and are unlikely to make even one child's life any safer. They are designed to pick out people who already have a criminal record relevant to 'child protection', and make no provision for trapping potential offenders, or offenders who haven't yet been found out.

We can be sure, though, that they will cost us all a great deal to implement; they will probably act as you say to the detriment of children's opportunities; they add more powers to an already over-officious and intrusive state machine.

MikeyP said...

Just one more thing for Dave to cancel when he gets into Number 10. I think the best thing would be to have a total Bill of Repeal and repeal everything Act that has been passed since that dreadful day in 1997!

Anonymous said...

I am a school governor and I will have to be vetted now.

I have been a governor for 25 years in 5 schools and 3 local authorities. Not once have I ever been alone with a child on a school visit. There has always been a teacher with me.

As a councillor I will visit schools - again always accompanied by vetted adults. Will I need yet another check for this?

I am also avolunteer with Age Concern, and will have to get a separate CRB check for this.

My husband (an ex teacher)and I have volunteered to baby sit our new neighbours children as they look after our cats when we are away. Will we need to be vetted for this?

Working mums will often have arrangements with family, friends, neighbours etc to pick up their children from school. Will vetting be required now?

It is nonsence and will do nothing to protect vulnerable children.
(Far more effective would be to 'vet' mums' new boyfriends who are far more likely to assault children!)

Aside from the cost and hassle, I am unhappy with the goverment having all this personal info. on me given their data protection record. And unsubstantiated allegations will also be included as 'fact'.

Anonymous said...

Agreed - had Ed Balls been checked? I suppose it is pointless to demand Brown and Balls are checked as they will just use it as a propaganda exercise.

I have no intention of putting my name on any govt database if I can possibly avoid it. It is of course becoming increasingly more difficult.

If the police had done their job properly and the Soham governors relied on their own methods and judgement and local knowledge - rather than a state imposed checking system - then the two children would be alive today.

Instead we get more jobsworth arse covering.

TheBigYin said...

I think we are being deluded into thinking this is about protecting children from paedophiles only.

I heard this morning you can be excluded from any contact with children if you have a drink driving conviction, no matter how old that conviction was. After the foster parents/smoker debacle you could be considered unfit to take your neighbours kids to school as a favour etc.

They will keep adding to the list of 'offences' that make you deemed 'unfit' to be in the vacinity of children.

It is good that you, Iain, are making a stand on this.

Stronghold Barricades said...

I think you missed the point over Huntly

He was in the system, it was just that it wasn't joined up so now warning was flagged

We don't need new rules, we just need the rules that are there to be used effectively, and then someone has to be held accountable if there are any failures

True Belle said...

What a sensible article , well said.

The sad thing is though that there seems to be a culture which is rapidly getting out of hand, that believes there is a lot to gain by bearing 'False witness unto thy neighbour'-- good people with good reputations and character are trashed by extremely toxic accusations-

Parents berating teachers is a good example.

If one witnesses a child falling off its bicycle or tripping over heaven forbid that anyone DARE comfort or attend to it other than the parent.

I feel that men are at a real disadvantage here because they also fear that they would be victimised if they were to show friendliness to a youngster ,ie showing them how to cast a line from a fishing rod etc, bowling a cricket ball or even just smiling at a child--

This is why there are a lack of male teachers in primary schools , yet these men could be the role models for children from our so called broken society.

NameHere said...

Not just this, but the CRB leads to false trust. If you or a bank manager go in to school, parents shouldn't expect either of you to have unsupervised access to children. Those teachers & assistants, who have been CRB checked, should be there. That's their job. That's why they get checked.

I don't think parents would want, cleared or not, visitors to have complete access, that's just mad. It won't be long until an issue arises because a visitor to a school is left unsupervised because he or she "has been checked".

These schemes all lead to the switching off of common sense.

Anonymous said...


I work for a very small embryonic charity providing courses for adult visually impaired and blind people.

We have resisted this sort of tosh for a long time because it would be so onerous and expensive.

We have done this by deliberately and openly refusing to categorise blind people as vulnerable adults, as they are intelligent, independent people who don't need to be patronised or molly-coddled.

However if the Government were to determine that they had to be categorised in this way, we would be stuffed because we don't have paid staff and rely ENTIRELY on the goodwill of volunteers.

It is a bit like Schrodinger and his cat - if he opens the box he may be poisoned... - if we go down that route the charity may then be terminated.

Someone has to FIGHT BACK AGAINST this bo!!0*ks before huge numbers of voluntary and amateur organisations go under. Far more kids are killed on the roads, but there seems to be zero enforcement of laws on not using mobile phones while driving.


Weygand said...

The nincompoops launched this change with the pathetic mantra "But think of the children - this might stop another Huntley".


a) Huntley was a school employee and so would fall within the existing scheme AND
b) It was the incompetent administration of the information held by the police that prevented Huntley being recognised as a danger not the scheme itself.

These single issue bureaucrats fail to see that what little good the changes may achieve will be greatly outweighed by the harm they will cause.

Doubting Richard said...

This would not even have prevented Huntley from coming into contact with his victims!

He would not have been able to hold the job he did, but the girls went to see Huntley's girlfriend, a teaching assistant, not Huntley. This would not have prevented her from holding the job, or Huntley from living with her.

It is an hysterical over-reaction that would not even have worked in the case to which it was a reaction.

Laurence Hodge said...

The root of the problem - and you hear ministers trotting out this line continually - is that this Government contends that its first duty is to protect its citizens.

Leaving aside that duty is often the cloak worn by officiousness, it is absolutely NOT the job of government to protect us from ourselves or from each other. That's OUR job. Instead, government has a duty to protect our freedoms and this administration has consistently gone out of its way to curtail them.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it is an over-reaction on Labour's part. For years, many of us have been predicting that Labour was headed in this direction.

Could be, that because their ID card system will fail, they're using this as another way of getting people onto the mega database (an EU-originated, or possibly even UN, initiative).

Undoubtedly, there's money to be made from this - not just from registration and fines. Which company will be implementing this scheme? IBM? BT? Fujitsu? Capita? Whichever it is, it will go after the money with relish.

Please join the Facebook group, and ask all your friends to do the same.

We need to nip this one in the bud. Preferably by marching on Parliament and kicking up a storm in the media.

Duyfken said...

This reminds of a recent anecdote from Australia. It is a portion of an ABC interview between a female broadcaster and General Cosgrove who was about to sponsor a Boy Scout Troop visiting his military headquarters.

So, General Cosgrove, what things are you going to teach these young boys when they visit your base?

We're going to teach them climbing, canoeing, archery and shooting.

Shooting! That's a bit irresponsible, isn't it?

I don't see why, they'll be properly supervised on the rifle range.

Don't you admit that this is a terribly dangerous activity to be teaching children?

I don't see how. We will be teaching them proper rifle discipline before they even touch a firearm.

But you're equipping them to become violent killers.

Well, Ma'am, you're equipped to be a prostitute, but you're not one, are you?

The radio went silent and the interview ended.

TrueBlueBlood said...

Agree with this Iain.

I am going to order this book today.

John of Enfield said...

I was going to make the same point as Doubting Richard. Even this new system would not have caught Huntley - he was not an employee of the relevant school.

I do object to the state deciding to monitor a full 25% of the populace, destroying social trust as they go.

What amuses me most of all is that the 10-15% of people this sort of thing (ASBOs, HMRC crackdown's etc) is aimed at, live outside the system anyway. And the people who monitor it only dare to deal with the vulnerable & law-abiding.

Left wing fascism at its very best.

Praguetory said...

Excellent blog, Iain. Trust is the key. I am thinking of working with Birmingham Uni CF on this theme over the coming academic year so I look forward to taking receipt of Seldon's book.

Paddy Briggs said...

I agree with every word you have written Iain. Well said.

Old Holborn said...

Most MP's visit schools.

This could be fun.

The Purpleline said...

Only this Labour government could have turned everyone into criminals, while allowing real criminals to escape scot- free.

We have seen a sea change in UK justice, where our common law and presumption
of being innocent until proven guilty is being subtly changed to a European style, guilty until innocence is proven stance.

This new check will eventually lead to everybody being kept under a system of constant monitoring. If the majority of the population are on this register, the majority will rightly assume that the minority have something to hide. It is natural surveillance creep method.

Liberals, who say if you have nothing to hide, nothing to fear, forget that in Nazi Germany. They came for the mentally challenged, then for homosexuals, and then the Jews, but I was ok I was Christian, in the end the regime went for Christians and all potentially opposing groups, it is what happens when you have a socialist totalitarian state meddling and controlling the population.

We are close to becoming a one party state, be careful our prime minister is showing real signs of stress, he is making some very rash decisions, Afghan Hostage release, Lockerbie release etc, I would not put it past him to create some conflict or national emergency to retain power and cancel or delay the 2010 election.

This government are unbelievable, we learn today from the Evening Standard that Haringey council allowed the family of one of the Airline plotters (The leader) to foster a child; it was quite possible the child would have been a passenger on one of the planes. This man was under surveillance, this was known, yet the council never knew?
Just shows being on a list does not mean you are pure, so nobody should accept a CRB check at face value. If in doubt about someone, keep your kids close.

troymolloy said...

Good man Iain. No-one should sign up to this repulsive database unless they absolutely have to in order to keep their job (though personally I would still refuse).

The Purpleline said...


“If the police had done their job properly and the Soham governors relied on their own methods and judgement and local knowledge - rather than a state imposed checking system - then the two children would be alive today.”

I agree, but I also believe the School and employer were negligent; it would appear nobody takes responsibility for giving a reference or in checking references.

I think we should be able to hold any person giving a false reference and anyone not checking up on them accountable in a court of law.

Fidel X Penses said...

Actually, I'd like to read what some of the Labour supporters who read this blog have to say about the proposals. My first thought is that it will be yet another illiberal, ineffectual, expensive intrusion in our lives: but I'd like to hear the arguments in favour.

Chris Paul, Hopi Sen and you others who support the Government - what about it?

Anonymous said...

I watched BBC News this morning - there was a woman presumably from the quango or whatever supervising this in due course spouting on about the benefits of this system and that it was only a "one off registration" etc -she was asked by the interviewer - "What's to stop a person offending once they've registered ?" The reply was complete waffle and basically could be summarised as - nothing !!

Rebel Saint said...

I run a small charity which operates a number of children's clubs. We already have a dirth of male volunteers reluctant to be tarred with the suspicion of being a perv, or about revealing completely unrelated misdemeanour's from earlier in their lives.

Let me tell you, CRB's & ISA's have virtually no effect at preenting abuse but they do deter good quality people from becoming excellent role models for our children. They only flag up people who have been caught ... and even then they tend to flag up more false positives than anything (including my volunteer who it flagged up because he married his wife when she was 16!!)

By a long, long, long margin - the most dangerous person to have around your child is mums latest boyfriend (even then, it's still a relative rarity for them to be abusive). As far as I'm aware, the new ISA's don't require mothers to do an ISA on their latest boyfriend before getting into a relationship with them.

Stupid, ineffective bureaucracy. NuLab at it's best.

Johnny Norfolk said...

I am just totaly sick and tired of this government. But where are the Tories to say they will scrap all this rubbish.

Ruth@VS said...

Very true, Iain.

Before the advent of the CRB I worked in a social services department where we dealt with this kind of thing regularly. The rule was that checking was required where there was "unsupervised access". I am astounded that even talking to a child while with other, checked adults, is now a checkable role. Madness, and the death of volunteering will result (it's already happening).

A few weeks ago there was a discussion about this on Woman's Hour, and the question of trust was raised. It's a good point - children are not only being given the message that adults are untrustworthy but the evidence is that they are learning that the easiest way to get revenge on someone who has upset them is to make an accusation of some sort. It's a sad day when measures purportedly designed to protect children actually put the adults at risk.

john miller said...

Needle, meet haystack.

jolo said...

As this is a "one off" check then it it next to useless, as i could have a check today and criminal record next week which will not show up... If this is the case, what is the real reason for this check?

Rexel No 56 said...


Great article.

I am a Director of an amateur football club that depends upon volunteer coaches and managers for the boys' and girls' teams.

We are already caught up in this nonesense and soon (they keep putting the date back) my understanding is that we will face criminal sanctions as Directors if we fail to have everyone involved in running our football CRB checked.

I can see the following happen:

Child taken to hospital with bruising.

Suspicion raised against boyfriend of mother.

Police investigate and discover boyfriend has been taking elder brother to soccer practice.

It's discovered that on a couple of occasions the boyfriend helped the coach to put out the cones and balls before the training session.

Police ask club whether the boyfriend is on their volunteer register and has been CRB checked.

Club admit they had no idea he was helping.

Club Directors drawn into criminal investigation against them.

Complaint against boyfriend resolved, the bruising was an accident all along.

Club Director arrested and charged for failing to have CRB check on boyfriend.

Far fetched? I don't know, but it does mean we will be writing to all CRB checked coaches and instructing them not to accept help from anyone else. And so the trust, and working together as a society, is eroded just a little more.


john miller said...

Oh and next time Balls goes to a school - unless he's given up, of course - don't let the bastard in unless he's had his CRB check done.

Anonymous said...

just a meandering thought, but I remember reading recently about "risk compensation" in relation to designs around pedestrian crossings, etc. Fascinated the crap out of me, but I wonder if the same kind of thing can apply to something like this. If you have an adult who is registered the youngster might compensate the risk of the "stranger" ergo end up trusting these registered adults more because hey they're registered and that which means they're safe when in fact the opposite could be true. Just because they're registered doesn't mean they're not a paedo and not going to offend. An official piece of paper that says "trust me" could be a paedophile's dream come true...

Sean Haffey said...

There is one rather important exception to these rules.

If you directly have an arrangement with a friend that you'll take their children to an event (or vice versa) then no check is needed. So lift sharing arranged between families is fine.

It's when the arrangements are between an organisation and an individual (e.g. school/scouts/ballet school) that the rules apply.

Anonymous said...

I think you should reflect upon the gov actions after Dunblaine. Bliar's populist reaction has for practical purposes destroyed shooting clubs in this country. Well I don't need to go on about the level of gun crime now.

What level of risk is all this effort going to protect children from? I suspect this is just another over the top response from an incompetent government.


Kingbingo said...

So if I understand this correctly anyone spending time in a school must be vetted. OK, what if the school bursts a pipe, does the school need to find a plumber that has been vetted before he can come in and fix it. What if the school catches fire. Do they let the school burn while the fire crew pay their £64 and wait for the vetting.

You could cite a million and one ridiculous examples of why this is madness. And we know it won’t save any children. If 11.3m people being on a database why not have everyone on a database, what is 200 staff in some office going to do. We all know the real reason behind this. Its yet another excuse to increase the size scope and power of the state, collecting more stealth taxes on the way. Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, always the left wing solution to any problem. Its also palpably mad.

Anonymous said...

"I can accept that people who work in schools should be CRB checked..."

Hang on a minute! Really think about this.

If you accept this argument, then CRB checks on everyone who visits schools is no more than a logical extension of this requirement.

The fundamental question is: Why is it necessary for everyone who works in a school to undergo a CRB check?

Anonymous said...

If every parent makes unfounded allegations of kiddy-fiddling about every single councillor, teacher, doctor, police officer, social worker, judge, etc etc that they can, within weeks, the system would grind to a disasterous halt as every one of them would fail the check and be forced to stop working. Of course, it would lead to some rather uncomfortable interviews, but if they have nothing to hide.....

Boo said...

I don't know why this news angered me so much, but it did.
Aside from the dispicable invasion of our privacy, the persumption that anyone willing to help drive their kid's peers to football practice is up to no good and must be vetted. It is moronic.
It is moronic because, it is ok if a parent calls up another parent to give their kids a lift, but if the football couch were to call up you would need a "licence". I suspose if the couch was to sugest to the parent that they rang another parent and ask for a lift, it would be alright again.
Heavy handed regulation like this is invasive as it is useless.

Ian said...

From Wikipedia about the Soham murders - "[Holly and Jessica] then went out to buy some sweets. On their way back they walked past Huntley's rented house in College Close. Huntley asked them to come into the house"

So how exactly would this new service have prevented these murders from happening? We're putting a system of safeguards in place of educating children on safety (how many times were we all told never to accept sweets from strangers?).

On a more concerning note for me. Let's assume ISA has a similar error rate as CRB (0.04% last year). 11.3 million checks = over 4,500 errors. Thousands of innocent people labelled pedophiles by error, and having to live with that stigma hanging over them for the rest of their lives.

Slowly but surely we're developing a system that vilifies innocent people to the point that they'll all give up and the only applicants will be those who have dodgy intentions.

Chris Paul said...

You are exaggerating chronically Iain. But your idea of making MPs and Cllrs and so on get CRB checks is excellent. It really is. Also priests and many other roles are currently not subject of checks. These groups are trusted people and while 99.9% may be no threat to safety. That 1 in a 1000 who offends could be cut off at the pass.

For your first point ... speaking in a class room or assembly hall would not normally need a check as other teachers are of course customarily present. They wouldn't miss your fascinating speech for the world. I don't think there is any plan to change things so visiting speakers who will not have unaccompanied "access" to lone children would need to be checked.

And if I'm right why on earth are you leading with your assertion that you'd need to be checked?

If however you started a voluntary school run service and offered ad hoc lifts home to kids then most reasonable people would likely agree that a check would be due. Though less so if this was a standard car pool of friends and neighbours I'd say. Are you exaggerating again?

The scenario of an adult who is not checked but is proven dangerous habitually running kids about in their cars is the sort of thing that this is after shutting down. Obviously if kids are being dropped off and their own kids (if any) are not in the car this may include situations of an unvetted adult being 1-2-1 with a vulnerable child or vulnerable adult. Best avoided surely?

These are the kind of situations any ongoing or prospective abuser might try to put themselves in. Including those with records.

These people may be evil or ill or a bit of both but what they do is try to get themselves into situations where they can groom and later assault children.

Most of our sports clubs and educational orgs and youth clubs and so on have their people on CRB of enhanced CRB checks. They have to. The statutory and funded voluntary ones at least.

This is closing doors and driving offenders into lower level roles. And famously onto social media of course.

I do remember Dizzy producing some research a year or so ago about this sort of thing. Some merit in it I thought. But the thing is that if checking is universal for most child-facing roles then there will be no stigma whatsoever, just a bit of a faff.

Particularly as the norm at the moment is that one gets a new CRB disclosure for each and every organisation through which one might have access to the vulnerable.

So as Athletics Coach (even with no involvement with kids) one now needs an enhanced CRB check. And volunteering with a homeless charity, even as a Trustee, if there is any prospect of contact with the customers, another check. And school governors, another check. This is tedious and costly so if the scheme looked at that it would be very welcome.

Incidentally the only Cllrs and MPs and clergy that are CRB checked at the moment are those who are governors. How much better if they were all checked. Then no-one could look down the elected members list and concern themselves with asking why X Y or Z is not doing their civic duty as a governor.

Chris Paul said...

Mike Rouse: Obviously someone with no record can be CRB cleared. However if they go on to inappropriate talk or actions they get BARRED. Not sure anyone could come up with a scheme for safeguarding against incipient first time offenders ... could they? But that's not in itself a reason not to try to keep offenders out of access to the vulnerable.

It's a risk thing as well as a trust thing. Having the ticket does increase the trust. And it reduces the risk of existing known offenders insinuating themselves into access.

If clamp downs on social media abuse are working this could drive would be offenders into these kinds of situations. That may be behind the timing on this. I don't know.

Anonymous said...

I have already abidicated the posts I had helping kids in my village, knowing what was coming. I don't want them asking if I've been checked for paedophile proclivities.

This legislation advances the terrible destruction of the trust between kids and their elders. It is wicked. I had a wonderful, happy childhood that would get my parents prosecuted these days. My own children had it in limited form. My grandchildren simply don't have a childhood, or only subversively, they are allowed to take risks from which they learn in private, one hopes no nosey PC parent will report them. And that is a real risk, any sign of discipline, the type that ultimately produces responsible adults, is a no-no, any sign of physical risk is abuse, God help you if you let your child climb trees and get a few buises from falls.

And it isn't only this government. Twenty-five years ago I was investigated by Social Services because I'd never taken a child to A & E. And why would I? I did actually take care of them and they never sustained any injury I couldn't cope with - no broken bones.

But is has all got far worse since then. I hate this government with a level of vitriol I really didn't know I was capable of pre 1997.

OT, but I note no network channel is carrying any kind of 9/11 memorial this day. It would doubtless offend the extremist groups our government deluges with funds.


Little Red Riding Hood said...

Talking of trust, do you 'trust' your friend Paul Staines? He's used a picture of you in his caption competition and is sitting back and enjoying the torrent of witless homophobia that has so inevitably followed. Is he really someone you trust? This is not the first time either, as you well know. Please comment on this, as I've never understood your apparent tolerance of this loathsome man.

We have a little list said...

This idea, and those behind it, are an excellent example of where the Tories could usefully cut back on the expanding state.

These civil servants are wedded to databases as the panacea for everything. I suppose they just want to criminalise everybody in the UK. Or is this an EU Justice Ministers' cabal outcome?

Anonymous said...

its the media's fault we're having to resort to this. Every opportunity they get to blame a crime, particularly against children, on a politician or political body they take it, no matter how unjustified.

Yes, we need trust, but its not our politicians that our destroying it, but our media. It has over the past ten years created a consensus of 'paedophile lurking round every corner' fear that leaves our Government little choice than to protect itself and its institutions by measures such as this.

Just look at the finger-pointing that goes on after tragedies (that you rightly point out in many cases could not be forseen or protected against) such as Soham. Look at the irresponsible 'Sarah's Law' media campaign.

Someone needs to tell the media that enough is enough. If we dont want the Government to bring in heavy-handed, onerous measures simply to protect itself against a media onslaught that designed purely to promote fear and emotive reaction, then the media must stop making it the scapegoat for every tragic crime.

The media needs to learn that sometimes, no one is to blame but the actual perpetrator.

Anonymous said...

Mike Rouse makes an excellent point: "Just because they're registered doesn't mean they're not a paedo and not going to offend. An official piece of paper that says "trust me" could be a paedophile's dream come true..."

It is difficult to get any govenment body to interview let alone convict a peado when they do not live with a child, are not the primary carer of a child or not employed to care for children. As many people have pointed out, this legislation would not have stopped Huntley.

I think the proposals from UNESCO recently discussed in Birmingham are appalling. If your neighbour did what they are suggesting you could report him for grooming children.

Uncle Bob said...

So I take it I'm going to have to be vetted so that I can pick my niece from her infants class when my sister asks me? It is absolutely ludicrous and is legislation for legislations sake so that the government can appear to be doing something. Another infringement on peoples liberties.

Have you also noticed how to get seemingly any job these days you have to take a crb check as well? I was fired from my last job as a call centre advisor because of a CCJ for outstanding debt I had declared in the check. The irony was, because of that employment I could finally afford to start paying it off properly.

One of the first thing the conservative administration post GE will have to is unravel the badly written and implemented laws from the last 12 years and parliament as a whole needs to be less supine and scrutinise more effectively any laws the government which to implement, ie. do their bloody jobs properly.

Anonymous said...

Executive members on Councils have to be CRB checked even if they're responsible for roads and winter salting. You are quite right, it is very sinister, but typical of the Stalinist regime "The People" voted for in 1997, 2001 and 2005, and yes I know they didn't get 50% of the votes, but those are not the rules.

Anonymous said...

I gave up voluntary sports coaching some time ago – pre all of this child protection agro – as it was becoming increasingly bureaucratised under government influenced governing body initiatives. The last thing I wanted during post-work activity was more exposure to box-ticking.

Anonymous said...


"It's a good point - children are not only being given the message that adults are untrustworthy but the evidence is that they are learning that the easiest way to get revenge on someone who has upset them is to make an accusation of some sort.."

That seems to be their aim - to make children suspicious of adults so that they can ring the government's various spylines ('helplines') and rat on people who don't obey Stalin's every despotic, insane demand.

HarveyR said...

Iain, there were some of us chipping away at the blogs and the fora in 2004-5 when the Bichard recommendations were being distilled and the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups legislation was passing through Parliament.

Any dissent or pointing out of the inevitable consequences at that time was met with a barage of hysterics that one was either a 'paedo' or cold heartless soul who cared nothing for the poor murdured schoolgirls.

The legislation which led to this vetting and barring breezed through the Commons in a matter of days. The "detailed scrutiny" in Committee took just 2 days in July 2005 and there were no objections raised to the baisc principle or premise that everyone working withor having regular access to children or vulnerable adults would require to be vetted and registered.

There was hardly a murmur from any commentator that this scheme was "overblown", "disproporionate" or "an intrusion". The press and commentariat at that time were more concerned about jostlings in the Cabinet, who would be the next Tory leader and Blair's future as PM.

Of course this scheme is a mess and it hasn't really started yet. It will cause massive disruption in what's left of our social fabric for many of the resons people have lately pointed out.

Yet all of this was very predictable to anyone with an ounce of sense. Why were our paid representives (including the lately wise Mr Grayling) not pointing this out at the time instead of waving this batshit nonsense through Parliament?

Phil Walker said...

Sean Haffey said...

There is one rather important exception to these rules.

It's not much of an exception! For instance, it doesn't clarify what happens if, for example, a parent rings the club and says, "Little Johnny needs a lift this week," and the club reply, "Have you thought about asking Mr. So-and-So?" It's not quite volunteering with the club (and checkable), and it's not quite a private arrangement.

Just get rid of the whole edifice. Kiddy-fiddling is an awful crime, but so is interfering in family life by the state, and the latter is far more widespread than the former.

Mark Senior said...

I totally 100% agree with you Iain - I know you will be shocked by that LOL .

Newmania said...

Yes trust is the key and how do we come by trust , by knowing and understanding eachother . That is exactly why New Labour’s plot to shatter the ethnic cohesion of the country requires a new level of prescription to police the newly atomised individuals . Huge influx of Mooslims = ID cards . Simple
Trust comes form knowing not from exhortation and while this measure is overkill and some I would like to know the name and address of anyone with paedophile convictions living nears me In a Mori poll of 614 adults showed 84% thought paedophiles should be named and 88% would want to know if one was living in their area. Of parents of young children like me that would close to 100%

This is how the Liberal con works .They say they are for freedom but their bleeding hearts take freedom from ordinary people and give to kindly fiddling monsters already treated with misguided generosity
.When I was a child I walked home in the evening and I played wherever I liked . My children will not be doing the same .What did they ever do to anyone ?

Matthew Hewitt said...

I normally agree with people complaining about increased state intrusion, but in this case I think those complaining are overreacting.

Firstly, to nail one specific misperception – if I enter into a private arrangement with someone to collect my child from school or a club, that person does not require a certification, as it is a private arrangement. It is only if the organisation arranges it that the individual has to register.

Under the current arrangements, each organisation I undertake a relevant ole with has to separately apply for a CRB check. Depending on the time of year, that can take some time to come through. If you are undertaking the role as a volunteer, there is no charge; if it is a paid role, there is a charge to the organisation. So for volunteers, it does not give rise to a cost, although the time it takes for a check to come through can result in loss of income (as it did for my wife, who had to wait two months for a CRB to come through before an employer would allow her to start – another problem with the current system.

The new arrangements are a dramatic improvement, as you are simply registered for five years, any new convictions, etc will then be passed to the safeguarding agency, who will notify the organisations you are registered with. This removes the need for a separate CRB for each role.

I am involved in a voluntary capacity for a number of organisations – as a School Governor, Scouts Treasurer and some church groups and the need for multiple CRB’s is tedious. But from the perspective of the organisation and the parents of the young people/ vulnerable adults in our care, it is of paramount importance that we can give them assurance that we are not exposing those people to risk or malign influences during that time. Yes, the vast majority of people might be entirely innocent, but having this system of checks in place also helps deter those who are not from being able to volunteer.

I heard John Humphries on Today this morning on this, arguing that it is tantamount to an assumption of guilt. I am sorry, but it is nothing of the sort. It is simply a check that the people who our young people are getting exposure to don’t have convictions for child abuse. Of course it won’t catch anyone without a current conviction and is imperfect, but I think we owe it to our young people to protect them. And you can be certain that we would be sued if we didn’t exercise proper checks on the people involved in these groups, especially if young people are getting into these peoples’ cars. It is not a particularly burdensome requirement and if you have the young peoples’ interests at heart, please don’t stop volunteering just because you can’t be bothered spending fifteen minutes filling out a form.

Timothy Wallace said...

And what about the 'soft intelligence' measures? That adults who have been accused or suspected of child abuse in the past but where nothing has been proven, may also fall foul of these new regulations. Disgusting.

JuliaM said...

"Of course it won’t catch anyone without a current conviction and is imperfect, but I think we owe it to our young people to protect them."

It's been pointed out, time and time and time again, that this will do nothing to 'protect children' because the same people who didn't apply the rules and guidelines in the Soham affair will find some way of screwing up this too.

And to claim that people shouldn't withdraw their volunteering time because of 'fifteen minutes of paperwork' is to miss the point pretty spectacularly.

When are we all going to stand up and say 'ENOUGH!'?

Windsor Tripehound said...

Anonymous said...
I think you should reflect upon the gov actions after Dunblaine....

In Dunblane and Soham a dangerous man was left at large due to police incompetence, and in both instances the reaction of government has been to punish the innocent. In other words, take the easy way out in order to look as though they were doing some useful.

The Today interview with Lady Morgan is a priceless example of obfuscation and deceit. Her Ladyship responds to every simple question with the answer to a totally different one.

Roll on the general election!

John said...

If anyone is to be in a position to harm my children, I want to know that I can trust that person. There was a lot of support for Megans Law and the proposal is just a variation of what was in that. As an investigator, I dealt with many child abuse cases. The harm that is done cannot be expunged - truly, better safe than sorry. Anyone who does not wish to be vetted has the option of staying well away from my children - in fact, away from my whole family.

Ed the Shred said...

I think these measures will INCREASE the risks of paedophilia.

There will be many latent paedophiles who will obtain CRB clearance specifically to gain that 'qualification' in order to garner trust in the organisations they are involved with (schools, clubs etc). Similarly the other adults in that organisation may lower their normal common sense observation skills simply by virtue of someone gaining CRB clearance.

I can see the headline now.

"CRB cleared man rapes and murders 9 year old girl."

Incest is best said...

All the database proves is that you haven't been caught yet!

Anonymous said...

The road to hell is paved with good intentions!

JBW said...

The Purpleline said...

“If the police had done their job properly and the Soham governors relied on their own methods and judgement and local knowledge - rather than a state imposed checking system - then the two children would be alive today.”

"I agree, but I also believe the School and employer were negligent; it would appear nobody takes responsibility for giving a reference or in checking references."

That's what you get with tick box checking, as long as the paper work is OK, nobody actually has to think anymore.

45ACP said...

Anonymous said...
"I think you should reflect upon the gov actions after Dunblaine. Bliar's populist reaction has for practical purposes destroyed shooting clubs in this country. Well I don't need to go on about the level of gun crime now."

I was about to make the same point. Not to mention the number of people killed or injured by police cars in the last few years.

Anonymous said...

From a comment on the Guardian's CiF open thread on vetting and barring

'A lot of people objecting are concerned what a background check now consists of, what can be done to vilify you with little or no recourse, the subjectivity of the value judgements that will be made and how easily this can all be misused in the future

WTTS (an earlier commenter) summed it all up very succinctly

'I telephoned [ISA] again. I was told a different story this time. I was told that it would be possible to be on this database, and therefore barred from working with children, simply on the basis of accusation and allegation. No due process is necessary, no court conviction, nothing. Simply accusations and the subjective opinions of a bureaucracy. When I challenged the legality of this, I was told that it was legal, that it had passed as legislation through Parliament.

Yes, you read that right. You can be barred from employment in this country by the civil service without having been tried in a court of law, without ever having committed a criminal offence. You can be barred from jobs on the basis of accusation, allegation and opinion.'

That's what is so repulsive. Look at the ISA Assessment criteria. You a teacher, a doctor, a nurse? Just imagine how you could be maliciously maligned by someone out to get you. You do not need to have done anything wrong. All you have to do is be 'different'. And please don't say that won't happen.'

FWIW, many people seem to fail to understand that this covers a lot more than just children. It covers Vulnerable Adults too, and the definitions are quite extensive.

Bollocks2Labour said...

It's not Baroness Morgan -
it's "Baroness" Morgan.
Don't give these NuLabScum any status.

Sandy Jamieson said...

For myself two speeding tickets over twelve years and once being stopped and breathalysed (first time positive,the second test was negative so no charge)so will this count against me? But as inevitably will happen someone else will commit a henious crime and it will be revealed they had been CRB checked. Some Civil Servant or a self-seeking self-appointed pressure group such as the Children's Society will demand the bar be heightened and if I am checked, the facts could be held agaist me.

So what exactly would one have to divulge to this Government appointed body? Details of one Politics. Question would a BNP supporter be treated differently? Me, I loathe the BNP as I do all Socialists but supporting them is not a reason for non-approval
Does one have to give personal financial details?

I can think of three examples where the tick box mentality may fail someone who is no danger. I do believe people can rehabilitate themselves so would what would normally be regarded as a spent conviction count I am aware of a local shopkeeper who in catching a violent shop-lifter and attempting to hold the little scrote ended up being warned by the Police for Common Assualt (I think he should have told them to sod off and tell them the Courts are at their disposal) Presumably he cannot be approved- he is a "violent person"
Finally a while ago one of our local councillors (a Tory)was discovered have some adult porn on his PC. There was nothing illegal so my attitude is BFD so what. As it is I suspect he would not be approved.

So presumably someone who committed an offence, has genuinely regretted it and since then has led a blameless life would also be rejected.

The ratchet of socialism has been tightened one agsin this week

Hawkeye said...

I have no intention of ever submitting myself to the indignity of proving my innocence. So that's the end of my participation with children and charitable work for the blind.

Elby the Beserk said...

Welcome to the British Democratic Republic.

Aux armes, les citoyens...

The only response that can really contest this madness is for all volunteers to go on strike, and remove their services. Yes, this will be hard for many groups, but mass resistance is required.

Joe Public said...

I just love the publicity photos of smarmy politicians visiting infant schools, picking up a strange (unrelated) kiddie, and smiling at the camera.

Old Holborn's Caption Contest today is a prime (minister) example.

Jim said...

I play sport in a team that has a lot of youngsters playing, 15 -18 year olds mainly. The adults in the team regularly provide transport for the teenagers as they have no means of getting to away games. The adults are not 'volunteers' nor are they making private arrangements with the parents. So will they have to be vetted? My guess is that they will, if only to be 'seen' to be doing the 'right thing'.

Well you can count me out. I have nothing to hide, not so much as a speeding ticket to my name. But I will not get involved in 'proving' my innocence to anyone. Its tantamount to accusing people of being paedophiles. If you said that openly in public about someone it would be actionable. So why is it OK for the State to effectively do the same?

Bad luck lads, I'm know you are dead keen to play for the team. But there's no-one to provide transport to the game. Come back in a few years time.

This will be the death knell of voluntary assistance for kids activities. A generational apartheid will come down. Older people, especially men, will shun anything to do with kids because of the stigma that will be attached.

I despair for this country.

Elby the Beserk said...

Of course, most abuse occurs within the home of the child abused.

So .. why not CCTVs in ALL homes with children?

Logical extension?

Election NOW please. This lot are clinically insane and out of control.

N A Berry said...

I hate this new law with every fibre of my being but I do think that people have to a certain extent brought it on themselves. Supposing this law were to enacted and then repealed by a Conservative government. If there was then a case of abuse which could have been stopped by the database would everyone who complained about said database refrain from screaming for blood? Liberty requires commitment and sacrifice and the sad thing is that most people don't have it in them.

Little Black Sambo said...

Matthew Hewitt, among the other tripe in your comment you say this: "So for volunteers, it does not give rise to a cost". There is NO SUCH THING as a free CRB check. Who actually pays for it is another matter.

Neil A said...

I think the system is going to far, and that it is much too bureaucratic (a single database that agencies could apply to put your details on if you were unsuitable, with a right of appeal, would be fine). However, I think a lot of the reaction is almost as overblown as the policy in the first place.

I can imagine the public reaction when a guy who sits with primary school children reading stories is revealed to have two previous convictions for raping children he first befriended through visiting schools. "HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?" The answer will be "BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T WANT YOUR PRIVACY INFRINGED".

Cynic said...

Nanny Balls now plans that no child under 14 can appear on TV unless singing acting or dancing.

In addition there will have to be a full psychological assessment of the child and the risks involved in their appearance in case they might be traumatised.

In the name of 'protecting' children this will eliminate:-

* Blue Peter
* Newsround
* All news broadcasts featuring child ren
* Interviews of child victims of crimes or children who have done heroic things
* Anything showing the birth of a child (how do you psychologically assess it while in the womb)

Statism run mad and the death throws of a Government out of ideas and fast running out of things to tax, regulate or publish a code of practice for.

On the other hand this will elimate at a stroke all those examples of baby kissing and parading the children for the benefit of the cameras.

Dennis said...

Uncle Bob said...
"So I take it I'm going to have to be vetted so that I can pick my niece from her infants class when my sister asks me? "

No. That would be a 'private arrangement'.

Cynic said...

But if a group of parents have an agreement that the take it in turns or that one does it all the time beuase that suits them all, it may not be a private arrangement and they may need to be vetted

Elby the Beserk said...

At September 12, 2009 8:45 AM , Dennis said...
Uncle Bob said...
"So I take it I'm going to have to be vetted so that I can pick my niece from her infants class when my sister asks me? "

No. That would be a 'private arrangement'

But if you arrived to take your child home, and the school asked you to take another parent's child home, for whatever reason, you would have to be ISA registered, else refuse.

Similarly, if your kid went to football training somewhere, and the coach asked the same - say no.