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.