Saturday, September 12, 2009

When "Scaling Back" Should Mean Abolition

Chris Grayling has written an excellent article on the planned Independent Safeguards Authority in The Independent today. He writes...
Is this really the kind of country that we want to create? One where everyone has to be checked before they can do almost anything? One where we no longer trust parents and families to do the right thing? Where the State has to do everything. Where we make it so hard to run a local team that the organisers don’t bother any more – and all we do is leave the kids to hang around getting bored and maybe getting into trouble.

There's that word again - Trust. He concludes...

So let’s scale back this system. Let’s apply a system that revives common sense. That checks those in key positions. But has faith in our parents.

That’s what the next Conservative Government should do, and will do.

Actually it isn't. The next Conservative Government should abolish this crackpot scheme lock stock and barrell. Anthony Seldon*, also in The Independent exposes the ridiculousness of the scheme...

It isn't the one quarter of adults who have been checked that worry me: it is the three-quarters who are not being checked. When driving their cars they are going to be passing children in cars, regardless of whether or not they have children in their own car. Carefree adults are walking the streets of our country, and could bump into a child, or even be overheard talking by one. It is potentially extremely dangerous. Surely the Government has not gone nearly far enough.

I would propose ensuring that every single adult is positively vetted in a process lasting perhaps two years to ensure that no one falls through the net. All parents have to be included, and until they are, their children must be taken away and placed somewhere safe. Prisons have lots of spare capacity, so they would make a safe place to put children, pending their parents' successful screening.

We have heard pathetic utterances from Philip Pullman and other famous writers and illustrators like Anthony Horowitz, Michael Morpurgo and Quentin Blake, who are so irate at being forced to register with the Government's database before they enter schools that they are now saying they will never visit them. Pathetic. Pullman called the scheme "corrosive and poisonous to every kind of healthy social interaction". He protested: "I've been going into schools as an author for 20 years and on no occasion have I ever been alone with a child. The idea that I have become more of a threat and I need to be vetted is both ludicrous and insulting... it teaches children that they should regard every adult as a potential murder or rapist."

Quite right and good riddance. But why stop with these dangerous mavericks? Let's ban their books and illustrations from school libraries too. They contain positively obscene ideas about make-believe animals and horses involved in strange practices.

I jest of course...

But it's not funny at all, is it? What kind of sick society is it that puts its entire adult population under a cloud of suspicion? Does the word Trust not mean anything at all? An entire generation of kids will be brought up without that particular word in its vocabulary. We have lost all sense of perspective.

The fact of the matter is that nine out of ten instances of child abuse occur within the family or the family's circle of friends. What would our government like to do about that? Introduce family visiting orders, whereby only "approved" members of one's family is allowed to visit? Because that's the logical next step.

Predatory paedophiles will always find ways to get to their prey. That''s not to say society shouldn't do everything it can to make it more difficult for them. But this scheme not only won't achieve its aim, it will actually make life worse for kids. Thousands of people who voluntarily give their time will no longer do so. Activity groups will slowly die out due to lack of people to supervise. And kids will end up on the street. Does anyone think that will lead to a safer environment for children? Only in the deluded mind of the Children's Minister Ed Balls, probably.

So I say to Chris Grayling again. Why don't you abolish this scheme? No one's going to accuse you of not caring about children. Most sensible people will thank you for it.

* Anthony Seldon's book TRUST: HOW WE LOST IT AND HOW TO GET IT BACK will be published on 1 October.


Anonymous said...

Although last night's PM ducked this issue [I wonder if Jo Carr is a lefty labour luvvie ?? ] it was given proper detailed coverage on Newsnight last night with the excellent and independent Laura Kuenssberg.

Check it out on iPlayer, and as a bonus there is an interview with Bruce Forsyth to start with !!!

Let us make this another 'Lockerbie' issue for Gordon Brown for the Labour Conference...

Anonymous said...

As Ronnie might have said 'More government is not the answer to our problems - more government IS the problem...'

Anonymous said...

Yes, abolish it.

It has nothing to do with making our society better.

They are trying to dissolve all the glue that binds our society.

The aim is to destroy the confidence of responsible people; to undermine and rip out the heart and soul of the country; to keep people off balance; to create fear and uncertainty.

We are not dealing here with a Government working for our benefit.

This thoroughly rotten and evil Government is the enemy of our society, for it is actively trying to destroy our society and whole way of life.

Mark Thompson said...

Spot on Iain and an excellent article from Mr Seldon.

I blogged myself yesterday about how now we are all being considered dangerous until "proven safe".

Raedwald said...

Spot on, Iain.

Anyone remotely familiar with Mediterranean village life - which must include half the Cabinet - must realise the way in which children are collectively watched over by adults as a whole, and therefore are safe in public on their own, is achieved not by CRB checking everyone in the village but by encouraging real community and real society.

The saddest indictment of this hysterical paedo-fear happened in a fenced school playground near to me. Elderly residents used to like to sit on the benches in the Sun and watch the children play - one of the simple pleasures of old-age, I imagine. The school has now erected a full-height screen to hide the children from the view of these 'perverts'.

Roger Thornhill said...

The Tories won't abolish it? Surely not!

Come on, Iain, bout time you realised that Cameron is an Authoritarian. The Database "will have uses", the idea of monitoring, controlling and "protecting" appeals to his administration.

He is not a Libertarian, remember.

Libertarians believe in the Rule of Law, not "Minority Report".

paulocanning said...

Did the Tories oppose it when the legislation first came up or did they go along with the Moral Panic which created this situation?

jolo said...

Do the driver AND passenger have to be cleared by this agency, or just the driver, or just the adult accompanying the children? What a minefield.... as usual this is ill thought out legislation by a government eager for headlines. ...on a question of practicalities ..11 million people to be screened by 200 staff.(all based in a labour marginal?) Allowing a minimum of 20 minutes to process each application - which actually seems a very short time for an in-depth background check - it would take 10 years to get every person on the database!

Plato said...

I'm appalled at this Iain, I really am.

Grayling should abolish this gross and offensive intrusion - and make it a manifesto promise.

It's just SO INSULTING that the behaviour of a tiny proportion of people should be used as the yardstick to 'approve' contact between adults and children.

I've never ever been one for conspiracy theories, but this when combined with 42 days, arresting MPs etc just makes me wonder what Labour are up to.

It certainly isn't a regime I want to live under.

neil craig said...

You are right. Any gardener will tell you that when pruning you prune close to the roots not merely of the ends of twigs.

Hawkeye said...

Iain posed the question: "What kind of sick society is it that puts its entire adult population under a cloud of suspicion?"

Answer: A communist society. It use to be called the GDR

subrosa said...

Very worrying the lack of firm comment from opposition politicians Iain.

Entirely agree it should be abolished, in fact it shouldn't reach the statute books.

Distruction of the country's social life is nearly complete.

Anonymous said...

Surely the next step is to ensure CRB checks for parents. Compulsory adoption being the remedy.

Any colour but brown said...

"Raedwald said...
Anyone remotely familiar with Mediterranean village life - which must include half the Cabinet - must realise the way in which children are collectively watched over by adults as a whole, and therefore are safe in public on their own, is achieved not by CRB checking everyone in the village but by encouraging real community and real society."

That's the problem in a nutshell - community spirit in the UK has been totally destroyed, there is none anymore.

Paul Halsall said...

As an openly gay man I have always avoided being near children - even relatives' children - to make sure I could never be accused of anything.

I was recently discussing this with my openly straight dad, and was surprised that he also - at 71 and never in trouble in his life - adopts the same policy.

For instance I would never go to offer aid to a lost child in a supermarket or high street: instead I would look for more or less any middle-aged woman and ask her to help the child. My dad said that that would be the best thing to do.

I agree that this is a good, or even rational situation, but I rather suspect that the "kid avoidance" that many gay men have long practised, has now become a norm among straight men as well.

Hawkeye said...

Paul Hassall said: "For instance I would never go to offer aid to a lost child in a supermarket or high street: instead I would look for more or less any middle-aged woman"

I no longer approach women either. Twice I have stopped to help a woman in a broken down car in a rural area. The first locked herself in her car and started pumping the horn to attract attention. The second (a couple of years later) wound down her window a touch and told me she was dialling 999 and was giving my registration number to the police.

In the current febrile atmosphere I have little doubt that the cops would investigate and I would get a caution or a record.

The worst episode was outside my daughter's school at 9:30 in the morning were a dinner lady on a bike skidded and fell off. She could not get back up. I walked over to her, calmed her down and phoned 999. The cops and ambulance came and the police asked me how I knocked her off her bike. She then informed them that I had been nowhere near her when she fell. If she had been unconscious the cops would have run with their unfounded assumption.

Helping people is now too d*mn dangerous. I no longer help anyone, even if they ask.

Little Black Sambo said...

Philip Pullman says that when he was in school he was never alone with children anyway. That is to concede part of the argument to the hysterical controllers: there would have been nothing wrong with his being alone with children.

JohnofEnfield said...

Before you read this, you must understand that I have not been CRB checked - especially for blogging.

The current situation reminds me of the last pages of Animal Farm. The true nature of New Labour is becoming clear - the state is EVERYTHING to them and WE (the people) are nothing.

I have also been very struck by the very poor presentation of their "case" in the media. It seems to be entirely based upon a complete misrepresentation of the Huntley case. Witness particularly Baroness Morgan on "Today". I have heard no one who has made a decent case and many of them lack any conviction at all.

Whilst not something to generalise to much about: It was very noticeable the the audience for Any Questions last night(mainly Parents I suspect)were completely silent after hearing Mehdi Hasan express his full support for the regulation.I'm sorry I couldn't stand listening to Bill Rammell.

We will soon have the ability to exercise our democratic rights and vote these socialists out of office. I suspect they may never get back into power - for at least a generation.

Cynic said...

"As an openly gay man I have always avoided being near children - even relatives' children - to make sure I could never be accused of anything"

What a sick society this Government has created.

And why is it only men who are targetted?

lilith said...

You are absolutely right Mr Halsall. But it is not just straight men and gays avoiding children. I was today delighted to be addressed by two wet children paddling in the same river as my dog, but found myself very self concious and kept walking as I thanked them for their admiration of the pooch. Bloody stupid. We are all pervs now.

Lil (a middle aged woman)

Anonymous said...

They are waging war on our society.

They will not stop until they are removed.

If necessary they may have to be removed like a leech is burnt off with a cigarette.

Labour Stasi said...

Well put Iain. This plan should be stopped in its tracks.

Anonymous said...

The scheme will lead to many jobs in a Labour marginal seat.

Mr Halsall - why should either being gay or hetrosexual make any difference? It implies that a school caretaker cannot be gay.

Soham was not carried out by a homosexual. Some male paedophiles presumably (and I speculate here out of complete ignorance) prey on boys but I assume (again) that others prey on girls.

This issue is an issue because our police checks were useless over Soham and school governors relied on police bureaucracy rather than their own local knowledge and abilities to pursue references and indeed their own prejudices.

Finally Mr Dale I must record my complete disgust at Heffer's crude diatribe in The Telegraph over the apology to Alan Turing's family. It made me want to vomit and I have written to the Telegraph's editor to say I will never buy their paper again as long as he is in their employ.
If you ever bump into Mr Heffer you can tell him I will happily spit in his eye if I ever meet him.

I suppose since we have Mr Halsalls concerns in print I should add I am straight.

Roger Thornhill said...

@neil craig

Pruning? This database is a worthless weed - it must be pulled out and any roots removed from the soil.

Unknown said...

Good point well made Iain. I am writing to Jacqui Smith about it today (she is my local MP).

Plato said...

Mr TDen, your point about Huntley is the nub.

He was A school caretaker, he was not THE caretaker where Holly and Jessica to school.

They went to VISIT HIS GIRLFRIEND who had no record of abuse.

The fact that the police etc were useless just adds to the crapness of this supposed safety check.

neil craig said...

Roger I was thinking of the general principle of cutting the parasitic parts of government rather than just this particular example. On the example U agree with you but would prune nearer the root by looking at all laws which have been brought in on the "protecting the children" excuse & see if any of them have.

bergen said...

I think there can be little doubt of the lunacy of this proposal.Cameron must say now that it will be repealed and the issue looked at afresh to see if any sensible and proportionate action is required.

Auntie Flo' said...

Well said, Iain. Around 99% of the 2,500 comments on the ISA published by BBC's Have Your Say are totally opposed to this for exactly the reasons you give.

I've rarely seen so many BBC's Have Your Say contributors so incensed about a proposal as they are about this one.

Don't scale this back, Chris Grayling, abolish it before it destroys the small amount of community spirit we have left.

True Belle said...

I believe you can never be too careful nowadays.

This country is losing the knowledge as to what adulthood really means. I think that the British are stuck in a void- infantilism, adults do not understand what maturity and responsibility is all about.

People dress appallingly, their children run around looking like little tarts, and certain sections of society are clueless about rearing children. That also goes for the middle classes too.

Only a true saint would volunteer to do anything with present day children re groups etc. They appear to be precocious and highly sexualised.

One has only to flick through the Tory glossy saturday/sunday/ broadsheet newspaper mags to see exactly what is going on re tittilating the male readers with pubescent porn modelling, it is all so suggestive isn't it?

I believe all youngsters should be protected, but the rules should be only slightly modified.

I also believe that parents should wise up and think a bit more about how their offspring appear in public re clothes etc and what they think they are doing on sleep overs etc!