Wednesday, December 20, 2006

How They Are Stealing the Spirit of Christmas

The recently passed Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act makes it a crime for adults who have not been vetted to work or volunteer with children. The Manifesto Club, a group which purports to aims to challenge the cultural trends that restrain and stifle people’s aspirations and initiative, is publishing a report today called 'How the Child Protection Industry Stole Christmas'. It shows that many schools and churches are already vetting Santas and other Christmas volunteers.

Recent examples of political correctness gone mad include Shadow Minister for Children, Tim Loughton, being prevented from acting as a Christmas elf because he had not had a criminal records check. At one children's Christmas party in Bristol, non-vetted volunteers had to wear different coloured t-shirts. Many schools and charities now ask for volunteer Santas to be CRB checked. Churches require all adults in mixed-age choirs to be vetted. Bell ringing towers must have two CRB checked 'designated people'. (Did you know I used to be a camponologist?!).

The report argues that this suspicious climate is killing the spirit of Christmas - and doing little to protect children. Some schools have banned parents taking photos at nativity plays - but officials could not cite a single case of a paedophile found with nativity photos. Expert on child sex offenders, Ray Wyre, argues: 'We cannot allow our society to descend to the lowest common denominator, where we think of everything in terms of how a child molester might see it.'

You can download the Christmas report HERE.


Newmania said...

Yes Bonfire night is gone , in Islignton replaced with "community gatherings, that now cannot be economically insured. Christams is on its way . I was asked to be a santa for Sure Start that the N family attend .Strict rules are in place about touching children and it made me feel sad.

On the other hand when someone avdvertises past crime and seeks to make a living from it I would like to see a stricter vetting procedure ....leave it ..I know .

stalin's gran said...

Quite right too - oooh, I've come over all Daily Mail.

Anonymous said...

The country has gone mad, and there are hundreds of blogs out there recording and complaining about this descent into politically correct oblivion.

The one thing they all lack are ideas about how to return us to some level of sanity. Complaining and wringing-of-hands will make no difference.

I am part of the problem rather than the solution, I am ashamed to admit. A couple of years ago I gave up on the whole Ship Of Fools and moved to Spain.

Here I can dress up as Santa for local charities without needing a piece of paper but just can't find a good electrician for love nor money.

Anonymous said...

We are all suspects. I think we are all living the film Brazil.

Perhaps Cameron's slogan ought to be Breath the fresh air of Freedom.

There are a whole generation of people growing up not knowing what it's like not to have worry about looking over your shoulder for the P.C. police.

Anonymous said...

Many years ago Mr Hitchens used to have a financial interest in an advertising company , we placed advertising boards above urinals.
One Christmas we had a campaign against drink driving due to go up , at the last minute it was pulled by the relevant minister as the ad showed a picture of a little girl who had lost her dad due ti a drink driver, why was it puled?
she was in a dress and it might have given caused peados to knock on out!
You have to worry about the mindset of the person who thought that may be the case (this was under a conservative Govt)
All we saw was a little girl who had lost her dad , some civil servant/minister saw a w****** opportunity

neil craig said...

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
H. L. Mencken

If we assume that the true purpose of government is, to a large extent, paying government employees, the "child protection" industry is yet another example of empire building by those in government (not necessarily at the top) playing on our fears.

There is a case that all the current increase in asthma is due to the little dears not being allowed to play in dirt & thus switch on their immune systems. If so the net effect of the whole protection industry has been bad.

nsfl said...

And another thing... Some schools are pretending that the Data Protection Act covers nativity plays etc so that they can forbid parents from shooting their own footage. They then charge parents for footage and stills that they - the school - make! Torygraph story here.

The grasping, dishonest teacher at one such school can be emailed via here.

Anonymous said...

Worse still a records check is not transferable so an adult needs to reapply in each function or organisation all over again

Wrinkled Weasel said...

As Geoff said, it's no good us all wringing our hands.

There is a wider issue concerning our move towards litigation.

If greedy people will litigate and greedy lawyers make it easy for them it is not surprising that organisations get nervous.

Anonymous said...

I find this all quite puzzling. The same people who complain about political correctness gone mad (re: CRB checks etc etc) are the ones who are most vocal against kiddy fiddlers.

Can they not see that there is a link between the two.

Because of all of the ridiculous scaremongering from the Sun and The Mail, people have to be so careful in all situations and this leads to the charge of "political correctness"...

Anonymous said...

I don't want to break up the love-in, but I am reading a book at the moment that details the horrendous stuff that vulnerable children go through.

Often targetted when they are in care, they are sometimes forced to work the streets as child prostitutes and subject to the most horrible (frequently sexual) assaults from other children in the home.

I understand that the "peecee brigade bans Christmas" approach is popular, but you can understand the thinking behind it when set within a broader context of child abuse.

Anyway, merry Christmas!

(See, "they" haven't got to me yet!)

Johnny Norfolk said...

What will the conservative party do about it. We hear about all these stupid things and nothing about what they would do about if they come to power. Bedfore Blair was elected he used to say what Labour would do about everything.

Please ask Mr Maud what he would do.

Anonymous said...

It isn't just the spirit of Christmas, the 'voluntary' sector as a whole is suffering. Scouts and Brownies just don't prosper in the way they used to.

There is suspicion over anyone who wants to run a kids' football club.

My mum [who is over 70] also needed CRB clearance to run a church youth group. I am getting involved in a trust which aims to provide lifelong learning for Visually Impaired people - all the volunteers will need to be CRB checked, despite the fact that we won't be visiting them 'one to one' in their homes.

I don't want to say 'the world's gone mad' as I can see instances where these checks are needed. And noone wants another 'Soham'. But the irony is that children are hanging around street corners because these clubs are disappearing, and are in far more danger, from things like glue sniffing, drugs, binge drinking than they ever are from 'stranger danger'.

That said one shouldn't fall into the 'political correctness gone mad' trap to explain all these changes.

A lot of these problems exist because of the rise of 'no win, no fee' lawyers wanting a piece of the action if children are hurt in the sort of accident [leg break, broken wrist] that would have been put down to 'bad luck' some years ago.

There are also more 'baddies' out there, although not to anything like the extent to which it is perceived.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see Lembit doing his bit for UK immigration statistics:

What's rescue from deportation worth? A few column inches and a kerfuffle under the mistletoe? We should be told...

Anonymous said...

You were a camponologist? That's a risky admission on a blog like this!

Anonymous said...

Why did Loughton want to be an elf? He aimed low and missed.

Anonymous said...

Children are targeted in all sort of ways by those who wish to do them harm. It the responsibility of the government to protect children from harm.

If the government didn't protect children properly the tories would be up in arms shouting and hollering about how they would be tougher on child molesters.

To use the old cliche "political correctness gone mad" for proper protections for children, then bring up obsure examples to justify your rantings is right out of the talkshow host textbook. How many primary schools out there are banning parents from taking photos of nativity plays? I bet it is not more then a handfull if at all.

Iain you are coming over a bit Bill O'Rilley on us.

Infoholic UK said...


Are you aware of the recent English Cricket Board regulations, whereby minors are not allowed to share a changing room with their adult team-mates, but must change on their own ?

Unless the entire team are on the register, I would have thought it would be much *safer* for youngsters to change in a communal dressing room than an unsupervised private one.

Well-meaning but wrong all the same.

Anonymous said...

The whole business is nonsense. It relies on criminal records - the losers that get caught. What about all those that have never been caught - and there are many? The whole silly system, including all the amateur efforts like no photos of nativity plays, just punishes innocent people like loving parents, and those who have given years of devoted service to voluntary groups. Oh, and pushes up the payroll of publicly employed paracites.

Anonymous said...

Iain, yove got this wrong, the manifesto club are a bunch of kranks. Ive not read their latest brief, but if its anything like their first, a lot of it will be factually inaccurate. I should know as I was intimately involved in the Act’s passage through Parliament.

The act itself is a poor piece of legislation which was rushed through too quickly on the back of the List 99 scandal in January (when registered sex offenders were found to be working in our schools). As those events showed, the existing system was not working as it should, and a change needed to be made.

And as this post suggests (, the Manifesto Club have a history of exaggeration - many are ex-members of Living Marxism Magazine (, a group who you a few years back lost £1m in a failed libel action against ITN.

Anonymous said...

Some schools are pretending that the Data Protection Act

Used to get this with the German bureaucrats at the Registrars who would not confirm a death on grounds of "Data Protection" when in fact data protection only applies to the living..........

We are getting the officious and horrible world of the German Beamte in this country - the kind of gross stupidity that inspired the play Der Hauptmann von Köpenick based on the sad experiences of Wilhelm Voigt

Anonymous said...

I think everybody misses the point here. This has very little to do with protecting children. Any determined kiddie fiddler could do an end run around the regs with little trouble. I t does however provide the sort of jobs that are advertised in the Guardian, usually with a 'organisation of choice particularly seeks applicants from insert favourite ethnic minority/sexual preference' footnote.

Anonymous said...

Part of the problem is not so much litigation as the fear of litigation. No one wants to be landed with a lawsuit, because even a thoroughly bad, no-hoper lawsuit brings with it enormous hassle and expense and the risk, however slight, of a catastrophic outcome. So people, understandably, play safe.

Local authorities make rules, jobsworths enforce them, and we finish up with a situation where, for example, you can't photograph your own children in the nativity play.

The solution: a more robust approach all round. Parents should be told, "Your child may be photographed by other proud parents. If you don't agree your child cannot take part in the play."

Anonymous said...

trumpeter - good point, but I think you miss what the difficulty is here.

Many schools would very much like to give an edict like the one you quote.

But if one 'pushy parent' objects to the filming of the children, or if one idiot posts the thing on 'YouTube' rather than keep it for family use only, the school are in trouble.

The school may be adhering to the letter of the law. But as an early post pointed out - one cannot have a crystal ball to predict what kind of spurious legal case someone can bring.

And so the schools err on the side of caution so that they can at least sleep at night. Who'd be a teacher?

Anonymous said...

I was stopped from filming my four kids swimming a few years ago because 'somebody had complained'. I explained that they were my children, that I was trying very hard to include only them in the frame, and that I am a junior school teacher working with children of the same age day by day. All to no avail. I have a very short record of that birthday party.
As for being a teacher; I retire in in 21 months and I'll be pleased to get away from the shallow minded 'women' that hold sway in primary education.

David Lindsay said...

No one would object to CRB checks if they were not so ridiculously expensive, and if one did not need a different disclosure for every activity that brings one into contact with children or certain categories of adult. How can it really cost that much? And how can one disclosure fail to suffice?

It simply cannot, in either case. The whole thing is just a money-spinner for the private company (implicated in the cash for honours scandal) to which it has been farmed out, and brings child protection into disrepute.

Anonymous said...

Stealing the spirit of Christmas is the point, Dale. The left employs the mohammedan immigrants as a rod to beat the back of the ancient indigenous Britons. Control.

Anonymous said...

the shallow minded 'women' that hold sway

That is the truth - you can see who was setting up women for stake-burning at Salem .........there are a lot of very strange women out there just looking for someone to denounce

neil craig said...

Anonymous said children are "Often targetted when they are in care"

Anonymous (possibly another one ) said "It the responsibility of the government to protect children from harm"

Clearly the government child care industry is worse at protecting children than the families thay are "protcting" them from & thus it is the responsibility of the government to cut it to size. A few years ago it became public knowledge that children in North Wales children's homes were being abused - partly helped by the fact that their chief inspector was himself a paedophile.

Anonymous said...

"Did you know I used to be a camponologist?!"

Iain, we can probably all make a creative guess as to what a 'camponologist' is - but admittedly few will have known that you were also a campanologist with an 'a'!

Anonymous said...

There's a kind of implication that it's obviously silly to think about vetting Santas - must be PC run made. Hmmm... it's a fact established by the bitter experience of quite a few children that those who want to grope children have been gravitating to the santa role for years. Sometime PC is, well... correct!

Anonymous said...

PC plod said...
it's a fact established by the bitter experience of quite a few children that those who want to grope children have been gravitating to the santa role for years.
10:05 AM

Or is this another urban myth? i'm well past taking policemen at face value

Anonymous said...

I think you brits are undergoing a development,that we krauts got some years ago.
I myself was one of the red-green -ecologist-feminist -politicalcorrect-people.
helas,those times are necessary but can be shortend by examinating the german period of confusion.
we only can leave the old world by confusion but we must keep the good side of tradition very hidden in the backyards of our mind.
then it will flourish one day even brighter.even in our lifetime.