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When panic shapes policy

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Mark Easton | 11:13 UK time, Friday, 11 September 2009

The government's Vetting and Barring Scheme is a child of moral panic. It is a textbook case of how media hype, political expediency and bureaucratic process lead to conclusions that can later appear disproportionate.

CRB officeThe story starts in the "silly season" of 2002. That August, like every August, newsdesks were searching around for stories to fill their papers and bulletins. With Parliament on holiday and the usual lobbying ping-pong game suspended, a tragic child abduction and murder story from Cambridgeshire came to dominate the headlines.

The Soham murders became a national talking point and commentators demanded that "something be done". Politicians took up the cry and ministers had to respond.

bichardThe inevitable inquiry was held, the report [749Kb PDF] written and the recommendations made. Lord Bichard, asked to try and ensure that children were not at risk from people like Soham school caretaker Ian Huntley, came up with a tougher and more extensive vetting system.

"New arrangements should be introduced requiring those who wish to work with children, or vulnerable adults, to be registered. The register would confirm that there is no known reason why an individual should not work with these client groups."

Having got this far in the process, ministers really had little option but to accept the idea - to have rejected it would have left them wide open to the charge that they didn't care about the lives of little children.

Then came the tricky bit. Lawyers and legislators spent years working out how this new register might work. The result was a new quango, the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), which will start working in earnest in the middle of next month.

The new system insists that anyone who has frequent or intensive contact with children or vulnerable adults through an employer or a voluntary organisation must be vetted.

It is expected the process will eventually see 11.3 million adults in England, Wales and Northern Ireland seek registration - that is about one in four of all adults. A separate but aligned system will apply in Scotland.

By 2015, the ISA will probably have files on one million people where there is some information from criminal records or other official sources that they are obliged to consider. Of that million, an estimated 40,000 will be barred from working with children or vulnerable adults - double the number currently banned.

A large proportion of those vetted will be public sector workers - doctors, dentists, nurses, teachers, prison officers and care workers - but some of the anxieties about the scheme relate to the demand that voluntary workers should also have to register.

The devil, as always, is in the detail.

Those required to be ISA-checked include those involved in "any activity which involves contact with children or vulnerable adults and is of a specified nature (eg teaching, training, care, supervision, advice, treatment or transport) frequently, intensively and/or overnight". It also covers any activity in a specified place (such as schools and children's homes) frequently or intensively.

The register will not apply to "family or personal" arrangements, we are told, but there is bound to be some debate as to when the informal kickabout in the park becomes a regulated voluntary activity.

One can see why they might want to cast their net wide. The evidence is that four out of five children who suffer serious sexual abuse are abused by a friend of the family or a close family member. It is the "mate of your dad's" who gives you a lift to swimming every Thursday; it is the uncle who volunteers to help the boys get changed at football on a Saturday morning.

And abuse of children is ubiquitous - survey evidence suggests that one in nine pre-teenage children suffer serious sexual abuse. Experts estimate that a million children in Britain are or have been abused in the recent past.

These are crimes which cause longer-lasting psychological damage than, for instance, being mugged by a stranger.

The counter-argument is that we risk deepening the generational segregation that, to my mind, is now a greater cause of community disharmony than ethnic or class segregation. There is an increasing disconnection: adults are encouraged to see all young people as potential muggers while children are encouraged to view all adults as potential abusers.

How many adults will decide against volunteering to work at the local youth centre or after-school club because they don't want to be judged by some faceless quango on the basis of a spent conviction for cannabis use a decade ago?

On the other hand, if the system does identify an additional 20,000 people whose past presents compelling evidence that they are a risk to vulnerable people, how much abuse might we prevent?

This debate, happening after the authority has been created and the laws have been passed, did not (and perhaps could not) happen when David Blunkett announced the inquiry or even when Lord Bichard presented his report in 2004. The innocent faces of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells were still burned onto our consciences.

Our democracy is regularly buffeted by panics which make rational, considered discussion impossible until the dust settles years later.


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  • 1. At 11:53am on 11 Sep 2009, Mark_WE wrote:

    I think this isn't just a case of when "panic shapes policy" but also a case of when "idiots" shape policy

    If "family or personal" arrangements are excempt and the vast majority of abuse fits into that category it seems even more pointless.

    The creepy mate doesn't have to take the kids to swimming to be left alone with the children.

    There are so many ways perverts can meet children - will shop workers need CRB checks before working in toy or sweet stores? Will everybody need a CRB check before going to places children may be like the park, or the cinema?

    This will have little practical use and is probably in place to serve two purposes - more money in the government coffers and the next time that a child is abused the government can say that "We did our best"

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  • 2. At 11:56am on 11 Sep 2009, delminister wrote:

    in todays climate would it not be wise to introduce a chip system into children that can be accessed by parents etc who are worried if their children go wandering off, then it can also reduce underage drinking and smoking in many ways.
    it would cost a bit to set up but in the long run it would protect our little ones.

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  • 3. At 12:15pm on 11 Sep 2009, calmandhope wrote:

    This is yet again a step to far by this government in their efforts to look into every detail of our lives. As Mark points out when does it become an informal arrangement to a regular thing? Many authors as well have spoken out against these plans as it means that they would have to register in order to read their own books to children in schools.

    It wouldnt surprise me one iota if anyone who "passed" the test to volunteer around children had to carry some kind of personal ID card just to prove it.

    Kick them out and scrap the scheme, yes we should protect children but there are always going to be dangers no matter what the situation. This is purely another way to keep tabs on people and must be stopped.

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  • 4. At 12:16pm on 11 Sep 2009, calmandhope wrote:


    I think that you shouldnt say that to loud or Labour may try and implement it.

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  • 5. At 12:43pm on 11 Sep 2009, ThoughtCrime wrote:

    Knee jerk reactions rarely result in good laws.

    It's already getting to the point where many perfectly respectable individuals are refusing to do any form of work with children because the hoops to jump through are becoming silly. I recall some months back Philip Pullman announced he would no longer visit schools because standing in front of a classroom of children with the teacher present is now considered a risk to the little ones.

    Just where is the madness going to end? Are we going to see prospective parents needing a CRB check before having a child, in case they might abuse it once it is born? What about the myriad informal arrangements for childcare - some friends of mine have often left their children in my care. I don't have a CRB check, my friends trust me not to harm their children.

    Since an abuser must either abduct a child or win the trust of both the child and the parents, how exactly can this be legislated? The simple fact is that risk can never be eliminated - even the most rigorous CRB check can only confirm that someone hasn't been known to offend previously. It cannot give a guarantee that they haven't got away with it before, nor can it guarantee that they won't offend in the future.

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  • 6. At 12:45pm on 11 Sep 2009, virtualsilverlady wrote:

    CRB checks only highlight problems after they have happened.

    Creating a society where everyone is viewed as suspicious will lead to even more withdrawal and isolation of those who already suffer a more than healthy degree of paranoia.

    Children are already brainwashed into not accepting lifts from strangers but still do it. How will this change?

    I think we all must despair at the arrogance and stupidity of those who are paid huge sums of money to come up with these ideas.

    For society to work people must be able to use their own judgement on who they trust with their children.

    Humanity will always be flawed and no amount of government interference will solve that.

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  • 7. At 12:46pm on 11 Sep 2009, ThoughtCrime wrote:

    #2, are you serious? Do you really want to treat children like animals just to give you the peace of mind you'd get if you did your job as a parent properly?

    Where would you draw the line with your grand chipping system? Would you seek to reduce alcohol abuse by chipping adults and giving them a quota of how much they could drink? How are children ever supposed to learn to assess risk and decide for themselves if they know that Mummy (and, no doubt, the state) is watching their every move ready to catch them before they do anything that might be considered even a little bit dangerous?

    I shudder to think how much childhood would be destroyed by misguided technology like this.

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  • 8. At 12:48pm on 11 Sep 2009, Lazarus wrote:


    I don't doubt that there is a certain good intention behind this report. Obviously nobody wants to see children suffer abuse, and preventing this is a good thing. However, there's a certain obsessive blinkeredness that goes along with this "if we save just one life..." philosophy that invariably causes more problems than it solves.

    We could prevent all drunk-driving fatalities quite easily. All we need to do is ban the sale of alcohol and/or private motor transport. But we don't because the consequences of this outweigh the benefits.

    In the long-run, disencouraging people to bridge the generation gap will leave us with an albeit feral generation who have fended for themselves from an early age as a result of a lack of adult supervision at every level. It's hard for those of us to comprehend the effects this would have on us as children because the majority of us had relatively normal, unchaotic upbringings where every adult wasn't viewed as a potential enemy.

    With children, teenagers especially, I believe a lot of the problems are caused by adults patronising them at every turn, rather than allowing them to express themselves, manage responsibilities, stretch their boundaries, and so on. With some guidance from knowledgable adults who treat them as equals, mutual respect can be given a chance to grow. I for one run a record label with a friend from a home recording studio, and both of us have expressed an interest in future of helping disaffected youngsters learn the various aspects of music and sound engineering. Music education in schools was laughably bad in our youth, and music technology courses were far too expensive, and so we both had to teach ourselves using the internet, and the knowledge of other people who'd been doing it for years already.

    For young people especially, music is an important part of their lives, and yet so few of them have the opportunities to explore their talents and they often go to waste. But ask yourself this - would they be hanging round on street corners or getting involved in knife-crime if they had something they loved that they could focus their energies on?

    This new legislation would put paid to us doing this at any point in the future, and similarly I suspect the same would be true of other volunteers in other areas that might be in a position to help our disaffected youth. The number one complaint you hear from young people these days (as it was throughout my father's 33 years teaching) is that they are bored and have nothing to do. And so all this creative energy gets lost in frustration and comes out later in other, more negative ways.

    So while well intentioned, I think there definitely needs to be a review of these recommendations, before we wind up in the kind of regime suggested by delminster in post #2 where everyone is chipped and can be tracked constantly. Do we live in a free country or not?

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  • 9. At 12:50pm on 11 Sep 2009, oh8777 wrote:

    There will soon be a petition against this legislation at:

    Please sign it if you believe, as I do, that this is a gross and unecessary invasion by the state into our lives.

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  • 10. At 12:54pm on 11 Sep 2009, orwell_2007 wrote:

    I regularly compete in fencing competitions in the UK, in which both children and adults compete. Naturally, there are many proud parents wathcing the progress of their little Tommy and often want photographic records of his success (or failure).
    I was horrified to learn that in order to do this, every adult wishing to take photos must be vetted prior to the competition and display a bright yellow badge indicating "photographic clearance".

    What message will children take from this? They will associate the badge with trust, and correspondingly assume that any adult carrying a camera but without a badge is a "bad" person - ie a paedophile.

    All this will do is breed suspicion into the younger generation to the point of hysteria. They will learn to trust nobody and only interact with a very close circle of people.

    This is classic governance-by-media and would almost be amusing if the implications were not so socially catastrophic.

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  • 11. At 12:55pm on 11 Sep 2009, HumphreyPugDog wrote:

    This legisation is unenforceable and is using a hammer to crack a nut. It would have been better to use the resources to continue the good work in child protection, eg children learning that they can say 'no' to adults, and that they can make disclosures about abuse to responsible adults, and will be believed and action will be taken.

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  • 12. At 12:56pm on 11 Sep 2009, geafax wrote:

    Yet more aggravation and disincentives to provide sporting facilities for our children. I assume it will be run with the same bureaucratic inefficiencies which means I need different CRB checks to act as coach in cricket and football and a further one to act as a school governor.
    A fantastic waste of time and money which will do very little to protect children. The only people it will serve to protect will be the government who can say they followed recommendations so it's not their fault child abuse continues.

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  • 13. At 12:59pm on 11 Sep 2009, stanilic wrote:

    This will be the end of voluntary work with children and young people. The next moral panic will be about bands of unsupervised children running wild in evenings and at weekends.

    What bothers me is that government does not seem to understand that if you chip away at the mortar that holds society together then you end up with social breakdown. I thought it was just Margaret Thatcher who said there was no such thing as society. It seems the entire British elite things so as well.

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  • 14. At 1:01pm on 11 Sep 2009, Steve Thomas wrote:

    This is an absolutely endemic problem with the current government. They love things that they can measure and absolutely hate and disregard things that they don't. As a result, they will choose policies that give easily measurable results above everything else, and pretend that the costs that they can't measure are negligable.

    We saw this with hospital waiting lists, where an easily measurable quantity superceded every other factor in NHS care. We've seen it in the drip-drip loss of our civil liberties, where the intangible cost of losing our freedoms and liberty is disregarded in favour of better arrest statistics.

    This is exactly the same. In order to show that 22,000 "dangerous people" have been banned from working with children, the government has completely ignored the intangible cost to society of assuming that every adult is a paedophile unless he or she can prove otherwise.

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  • 15. At 1:05pm on 11 Sep 2009, LetsGoFaster wrote:

    This is an intrusive and illiberal piece of legislation. It will further stratify and alienate already fragmented communities, so that children no longer come together through shared interests (not to mention the loss of foreign exchange opportunities).

    Why must these aloof and unelected autocrats assume I am unable to make judgements about my own child's welfare?

    And since when has it cost £64 to cross-check a name against a database and print an automated letter? If banks did this they would be taken to court...

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  • 16. At 1:09pm on 11 Sep 2009, DIRKSTER wrote:

    Percentage of people who think this is a good idea = 1%
    Percentage of people who think this is a bad idea = 99%

    Yet again this 'Big Brother' Government is more obsessed with the 1% than the 99%. This will have a real damaging effect on many small clubs and organisations, and put even more people off helping young children enjoy their activities.

    Its just TOO much and will make many adults overly concious of themselves around children and what others might be thinking of them. This really is terrible for our society and our children.

    What we need is a new government, not new policies like this.

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  • 17. At 1:14pm on 11 Sep 2009, happyMRSJONES wrote:

    It is suprising that so few people welome this introduction. Whilst it is the case that the majority of children are abused by those who know them and significant amount are by others who are in a positon of trust and authority. Research tells us that such individuals get themselves in to positions where they can access children with the prime aim to abuse.

    Not saying this is perfect but if it stops children from being abused and is a deterrent to abusers then it will be well worth it..

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  • 18. At 1:24pm on 11 Sep 2009, Ironrash wrote:

    "And abuse of children is ubiquitous - survey evidence suggests that one in nine pre-teenage children suffer serious sexual abuse. Experts estimate that a million children in Britain are or have been abused in the recent past."

    This is the worst kind of journalistic manipulation of statistics. If you're going to make sweeping statements like this you need to cite your references.

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  • 19. At 1:24pm on 11 Sep 2009, SOLZHENISTSYN wrote:

    How sad this country has become, all men are now assumed to be paedophiles.
    I don't know why we don't have warning banners at airports, ports of entry, railway stations.

    Why don't we make life simpler and just kill all the men?

    I never speak to children or young adults in public now. It is too much trouble.

    This is how bad Britain has become:

    I was on a bus and a young girl (aged about 8) sat on the back seat near me.
    She waved her mum off as the bus pulled away. When her mum was no
    longer in view the girl slumped onto the back seat and started to cry her eyes out.

    It was the school run time. Maybe she didn’t like the school she was attending?
    I didn’t say anything to her. She soon curled up in the corner and was obviously distressed.

    Why did I not say anything? I was the only passenger at the back of the bus.
    What do you think the folks at the front would have thought?

    Two stops down three teenage girls boarded and moved towards the back of the bus.
    ‘Good’, I thought. They can talk to her and see what the problem is.
    No, they didn’t talk to her either. They ignored her.

    She cried for four miles, a twenty minute journey, till she got off the bus.

    That is the Britain we now live in.

    Ron Taylor


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  • 20. At 1:26pm on 11 Sep 2009, Kevin Morice wrote:

    The existing legislation in Scotland covering Child Protection is already being abused to provide almost this level of ridicule and the resultant rolling up of the legislation into one document is just going to make it more difficult to get on with normal activities to the point that I for one have quit volunteering as an athletics coach because of the sheer burden of nonsense paperwork.

    I can also predict this reactionary legislation is going to be twisted and applied even further than the silliness of requiring a check to drive the neighbour's kids to a sports club. The checkout girl at my local supermarket has regular contact with children so she will need a check, as will the ticket collector on the train I take to work, the receptionist at my office, the lady at the burger van where I go for my lunch.... and so on.

    I assume post number 2 was meant to be sarcastic and comical but how long is it before everyone needs a ID-chip to leave the house without a cotton-wool and bubble-wrap suit on?

    As the article rightly points out this legislation may not even have worked in the case it was designed to prevent, nor would it have worked in the case last week for the Edinburgh gymastics coach.

    It is a system which singularly fails to adress the original issue and protects nothing but the jobs of those who implement it.

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  • 21. At 1:28pm on 11 Sep 2009, Edwin Cheddarfingers wrote:

    It's not exactly the first time in recent years.

    The extreme porn laws were produced as a knee jerk reaction to that teacher killed some guy. Effectively the extreme porn laws were created at the will of victims mother which was truly quite shocking, that one person can be allowed to dictate nationwide policy because of politicians wanting to make it look like they were supporting the victims family, regardless of the countless people whose lives the victims mother has now ruined as a result.

    It's sad that one tragedy is used by politicians to create further tragedies in wrecking the lives of many others of whom the outright vast majority are entirely innocent, harmless people.

    The sooner Labour goes the better, hopefully Cameron's government will remove this idiocy and the extreme porn idiocy. Unfortunately, I do not believe this will be the case as Cameron also seems to have a nanny state view with his repeated references to improving families.

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  • 22. At 1:32pm on 11 Sep 2009, calmandhope wrote:


    That is one of the most disturbing stories of this legislation that I've heard. This is one of the most recklessly thought out and ill advised plans ever in my opinion. Actually scrap that its not recklessly thought out as it hasnt been thought it, its just screaming for votes from the Daily Mail crowd, who are no doubt whole heartedly supporting this measure to protect little johhny.

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  • 23. At 1:39pm on 11 Sep 2009, Secratariat wrote:

    I'm a 30 year old man and I've got to say that I'm now afraid to talk to children if I don't already know them as I'm not sure what reaction I'm going to get from their parents and what trouble I could get into for even the most innocent of actions.

    I saw a lost child crying in the supermarket the other week but instead of helping him find his mother I went and looked for a member of staff to sort it out, I had considered helping him myself but then thought about how the mother might react if she saw me walking with her son and the possible aggravation that could be caused if she thought I was actually trying to abduct him. It wasn't until later on that I realised how ridiculous this is, I'm a decent, law abiding person who'd never harm a child yet my first reaction to this situation was "Watch out, this could get you in trouble".

    What sort of society are we heading towards when people are genuinely afraid to help each other, and specifically children, when they are in need ?

    The paranoia in this country about paedophiles and other threats to children have been exaggerated beyond all sense of reason in recent years, children are now safer than they've ever been in our history yet the constant messages being put out by the government and the media have got almost every mother in the country convinced that there's a paedophile waiting around every corner hoping for little Johnny to be left alone for a few seconds.

    I really do pity children these days, although I'd never have got into a car with a stranger as a child or gone into a strange house alone I'd happily talk to anyone when I was a child and I very rarely considered anyone a threat. Children these days are bombarded with messages of fear as soon as they're old enough to leave the house, if they're ever allowed out in the first place.

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  • 24. At 1:43pm on 11 Sep 2009, fco1922 wrote:

    Hideous and grotesque. When combined with the National ID Card database, Labour will have successfully made us the most monitored people in the western world. And of course school governors, boards of directors and head teachers will see their authority further eroded. Just as CCTV has not made our streets any safer, this new security agency will not protect our children. We truly are a people sleep walking into a surveillance society.

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  • 25. At 1:45pm on 11 Sep 2009, calmandhope wrote:

    The point is Mrsjones is that this won't stop attacks the vast majority of the time. If someone wants to abuse a child do you really think if they get turned down by a computer to work with someone then they're just going to give up and go away with the head down sulking. All it is doing is putting a white sheet up and hiding the problem of peadofiles under it, sadly there is no way to easily fix this problem apart from mind scans at birth to identify any personality "problems" which you no doubt would agree with as well.

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  • 26. At 1:56pm on 11 Sep 2009, HumphreydeBohun wrote:

    The key question for me is that, given the huge sums already spent on this area since 2002 (over £600 million according to a response to a question asked in the House of Commons recently), what research has been done to ensure that this money has been well spent? Are our children actually any safer?

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  • 27. At 2:14pm on 11 Sep 2009, supersh wrote:

    The question for me is: in what percentage of cases have child abusers already got some kind of conviction and thus would be found out by this? I'm not paying £100 to give my neighbours kids a lift to my daughter's gymnastics.

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  • 28. At 2:14pm on 11 Sep 2009, MarkMcIntyre wrote:

    My kids' school has a "walking bus" with parents helping out every night. These people will evidently now need to be vetted and I believe most of them will either stop helping or fail to comply.

    And yet how could they possibly abuse children while walking them home in the company of 30 other kids and half a dozen adults?

    The law is, again, an ass. Registration should be confined to roles which involve potentially dubious contact. Sports coach, one-on-one tutoring - fine. But parent classroom helper, PTA volunteer at the summer fair, don't be silly.

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  • 29. At 2:23pm on 11 Sep 2009, dichorionic wrote:

    Excellent blog (as always) by Mark Easton. This is overkill. It is similar to the Dangerous Dogs Act but just took longer to be enacted. I currently have FIVE CRB certificates, most of which I have had to pay for. In my voluntary work in the youth sector we have already seen a decline in recruitment because people are discouraged by the intrusion of a criminal records check, not because they are paedophiles. This daft legislation is set to increase public anxiety. Already many concerned parents don't let children walk to school or play outside. This will just increase the perception that child abuse is common. It isn't.

    This is a Big Brother government which has already collected and integrated masses of personal information on individuals and wants us all 'bar-coded' with ID cards. We have police who want everyone DNA fingerprinted - presumably from birth. This culture starts off with the philosophical presumption that everyone is potentially guilty of a future crime until proven innocent by exclusion. Perhaps the next step will be a compulsory CRB check before you can get married!

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  • 30. At 2:26pm on 11 Sep 2009, Whistling Neil wrote:

    Good article on this latest silliness.
    I would add one further fact which people may like to consider.

    Care to hazard a guess at what the greatest single risk factor to becoming a child abuser is?

    Being a victim yourself!

    Should we automatically bar every victim from working in these jobs/roles just in case?

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  • 31. At 2:34pm on 11 Sep 2009, djgw wrote:

    The old phrase ‘hard cases make bad law’ is worth remembering. Rushing to make new laws in response to a particularly emotional incident nearly always leads to ill thought out legislation which bears unjustly and illiberally on a wide section of the public. This is particularly apt in relation to this government's propensity to rush into legislation which, in the last 12 years has led to a severe curtailing of individual liberties in an effort to curry favour in the wake of popular sentiment and to be seen to be doing something. Does anyone believe that this law will stop, or even reduce significantly, child abuse or murder? Unfortunately, while this government has been particularly blameworthy, I am not sure that any future government will behave differently.

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  • 32. At 2:45pm on 11 Sep 2009, purplebluesprout wrote:

    Yet another piece of mad, ill-thought out legislation, by a government that specializes in this, This scheme is of very little value, as it only identifys those who have been 'caught' as child abusers, or have had a complaint made against them.
    so the really 'clever' abusers who've kept themselves below the radar of the authorities will now have a piece of paper, an official green light, that says that they are safe to be with our children.
    does this mean that parents will stop using their better judgement when deciding which adults should be around their children. after all someone waving a clean ISA check in their hand must be 'safe'- the government says so.
    would a parent be able to sue the government if someone with a clean ISA check abused their child?
    How often would someone need to have an ISA check, after all if i had one today it wouldn't take into account an offence that i committed tomorrow.
    also, if i refused to have a check would i be branded as a pedophile.
    oh yes, and let's not forget that this scheme bars people from being around children who have had a complaint made against them, whether convicted or not. so the idea of being innocent until proved guilty has gone completely out of the window.
    this legislation will only widen the gap further between adults, and children, as many good people will not engage with youngsters for fearing they may fall foul of the law, and yes surprise! surprise! get fined. (well i guess that Gordy has to fill the coffers somehow)
    Margaret Thatcher was heavily condemed for saying that there 'is no such thing as society' this government seems to legislate for this end.

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  • 33. At 2:51pm on 11 Sep 2009, MallardMK wrote:

    I have never been an activist, protested or really stood up to be counted, regardless of how many causes I may have quietly supported. At 7 am this morning, as I listened to the Today Programme, that changed. This time “they” have gone too far, and we, ordinary people, must stop them. The comments on this forum indicate the strength of feeling, but won’t change anything. I will of course sign the petition referred to above, but would also like to hear from anyone who is thinking of starting or joining an active campaign against this dangerous, not to say Orwellian, legislation.

    The Poll Tax was brought down because ordinary people stood up for their sense of fairness. It is not too much of an exaggeration to think of the Vetting and Barring Scheme as a similarly defining issue for our time because it is about far deeper things than child protection (hugely important though that is). If this is allowed to stand, it will spell the final eradication of things we once prized highly in this country: our ability to think for ourselves, our common sense, and our community spirit.

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  • 34. At 2:55pm on 11 Sep 2009, Eurisko2k2 wrote:

    Beyond my rage and utter disgust for this gross over reaction which will only push these sick people further underground and beyond the reach of the authorities.

    Will all MPs need be required to be on this register as they kiss babies, talk in schools and go to kids sporting events. Or will this be another case where they are above the law?

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  • 35. At 3:00pm on 11 Sep 2009, CaptainpH wrote:

    It is the "mate of your dad's" who gives you a lift to swimming every Thursday; it is the uncle who volunteers to help the boys get changed at football on a Saturday morning.

    Good to see the classic examples of paedophilia are gay men. A little bit more thought to your stereotypes would be nice.

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  • 36. At 3:12pm on 11 Sep 2009, Bernadette Lynn_ Home Educator wrote:

    I don't see how, if Ian Huntley had been barred from working in a college, it would have prevented him murdering two children who went to a completely different school and whom he knew through channels completely unconnected with his job.

    Why not ban people from working in schools if they've ever met or lived in the same street as someone who has at some time in the past been accused of a crime? It would do as much good.

    Combine this scheme with the new plans to vet parents who want to home educate and the suggestion of compulsory home visits to parents of under-fives and it won't be long before every adult in the country is on this register.

    We aren't sleepwalking into a surveillance society, we've been living in one for some time now.

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  • 37. At 3:16pm on 11 Sep 2009, purplebluesprout wrote:

    hi mallardMK
    i am with you on this one, i too have never been an activist, and like you never really stood up to be counted, but i think the worm may now have turned. i am with you to stand up against 'big brother'

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  • 38. At 3:18pm on 11 Sep 2009, Chris wrote:

    Mark, the BBC really needs to stop sidelining the Scottish angle with the throwaway line "a separate but aligned scheme". The Scottish scheme is far, far less draconian, whereas your dismissive treatment of it might lead readers to assume it's basically the same thing.

    It really isn't, and in the interest of a fuller debate on the merits or flaws of the English system, the Scottish system deserves a proper airing. How about it?

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  • 39. At 3:25pm on 11 Sep 2009, Jim Barron wrote:

    I had to undergo an extended CRBE check when I became a governor of an educational insitution because I might come into contact with children - the Insitution? - a University, the only 'child' I come into contact with is the president of the Students Union.

    The system is ridiculous.

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  • 40. At 3:28pm on 11 Sep 2009, calmandhope wrote:

    mallardMK. Well said and I will be joining you on this one.

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  • 41. At 3:41pm on 11 Sep 2009, VinChainSaw wrote:

    I'm in my late twenties and was always involved in youth development, sports coaching and youth councelling/mentoring etc in my younger days.

    Now I can't be *rsed to go through the effort AND pay, simply to have faceless box-checker deciding if I'm a good enough person to hang around children.
    I'm a busy person and if I'm expected to jump through hoops simply so that I can donate what little free time I have left, well then I'd rather leave it.

    Net result - I no longer coach sport and, as I have no children of my own or relatives/friends with children living nearby, I havent spoken to anybody under the drinking age in about 5 years.
    I lose. And the kids lose.

    Sad indeed but symptomatic of a society that feels they need to regulate everything based on a very small minority's misfortune. Common sense and pragmatism has been relaced by rules and regulations.
    I read the other day, and forgive me if this isnt accurate, but more legislation has been passed over the last 9 years than in the entire history of this (once) great country.

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  • 42. At 3:47pm on 11 Sep 2009, Jean wrote:

    I don't work with either children or vulnerable adults but my professional liability insurance insists that I have full CRB check. £50 for some quango every three years. Our society - as almost all professionals are going to be affected - is going to become more expensive and give us a false sense of security.

    I asked them for a definition of "vulnerable adult". They could not - or would not - tell me.

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  • 43. At 3:52pm on 11 Sep 2009, alexaneal wrote:

    This is a ridiculous over-reaction. It's well known that most child abuse takes place within the family, or by a close family friend that the parents trusted to look after the child. Obviously adults who are left alone with children for long periods of time should be checked and registered, but this will deter people from engaging with children in any way at all, further alienating those children from the rest of society.

    Of course it's perfectly in line with current government policy; fool the public into thinking that some government body can prevent all bad things, thus slowly eroding the notion of personal responsibility until people are so incapable of acting in their own best interests that they vote for the government who promise to take care of everything for them - Labour.

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  • 44. At 3:56pm on 11 Sep 2009, seeitsayit wrote:

    I am a Scouter and agree that anyone working with children and who is likely to be left alone with one or more should be checked. Our policy dictates this should never happen and there should ideally be two people. As for parents I think it is up to them if they trust the people they are entrusting their children to when transporting to various activities. Why can't another parent accompany and reduce the likelihood of any abuse from either side.
    It worries me that if children realise they could wreck a life in a fit of pique, how many innocent lives will be destroyed before the truth is out? And it doesn't take long to wreck a good reputation.

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  • 45. At 3:57pm on 11 Sep 2009, unusualhelen wrote:

    I'm currently considering becoming a school governor. Despite the fact that I only have 2 expired driving offences, this new legislation is a major disincentive for me to continue the application. I really resent the underlying assumption that I'm a threat to children, and must prove that I'm not. I also think it's grossly unfair to expect all professionals, such as teachers and nursery assistants, to suddenly have to pay a £63 registration fee just to continue doing their jobs. It's not an insignificant amount of money.

    Given that the Tax Credits Office can't get my name right (despite having done so for quite a while), I have absolutely no confidence in any database held by this government in any case.

    And as a previous poster pointed out, it only tells people whether the holder of a check has previously offended or not - not whether they are actually a risk to children.

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  • 46. At 3:58pm on 11 Sep 2009, John1948 wrote:

    The legislation dodges the fact that the majority of abuse is done by people (relatives, close friends etc) who are regarded as safe by the child's parents. This legislation will hardly make children safer. It will however protect the organisations whose activities involve contact with children and the vulnerable.

    It perpetuates the idea that the family is always safe and those not in the family are unsafe. This may not have been the intention but it is one of the results. Having been a teacher for over 30 years I wanted all the children I taught to trust me. The majority did, but there were a few who, for their own reasons, did not feel they could trust me. Although I found that uncomfortable, I would like children to develop an instinct for whom they could trust whatever the circumstances. To simply label someone as could and should be trusted is to deny the development of a vital life skill. Labelling one group as inherently less trustworthy (they need to be checked) than the family means that children are less likely to turn for help outside the family when the problem is within the family.

    If we are to be a trusting nation we must develop in everyone the instinct about whom they can trust. We must get back to the belief that the majority of people are safe, well intentioned and trustworthy. If you don't believe that then the virus has already infected you.

    The real question is do we want a society where trust is an overriding principle or do we want one where lack of trust and suspiscion rules? The latter alternative is corrosive, driving people into a 'keeping themselves to themselves' mentality. In such a climate dark secrets remain in the dark and thousands of children suffer. Is the price of going over the top to prevent another Soham worth that?

    We are a long way off my utopia, but I believe that this new sytem pushes us further away from it.

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  • 47. At 3:58pm on 11 Sep 2009, jon112uk wrote:

    Here's some other ideas...

    * Even the people running this are unwilling to say it would have prevented Huntley/Soham (he swapped names, he wasn't convicted or even arrested, police deleted 'soft' intelligence, the girls were trying see Carr not Huntley etc)

    * If your teenage daughter gets raped/sexually assaulted at school today it will have been by a fellow student - not one of the teachers. When are all the kids going to be 'vetted and barred'?

    * None of this works for people who have come from a whole range of other countries. Eg. teacher lives 30 years in African country, 2 years in UK. Only the 2 years in UK is reliably checkable. 10 year history of child abuse in Africa is unlikely to be detected.

    * None of this works if I bring my brothers 9 year old passport and give you his name and address when you verify ID for the CRB form.

    I can go on.

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  • 48. At 4:02pm on 11 Sep 2009, Secratariat wrote:

    happyMRSJONES wrote:
    "Not saying this is perfect but if it stops children from being abused and is a deterrent to abusers then it will be well worth it.."

    I'm sorry Mrs Jones but I must disagree with you about that.

    1. How will it stop any children from being abused ?
    2. How is it a deterrent for abusers ?
    3. How is it "worth it" ?

    Anyone who is going to abuse a child obviously has something wrong with them and once they've got to the stage of abusing a child there is nothing that will act as a deterrent as they've already convinced themselves that they're either not going to be caught or that they're not actually doing anything wrong.

    Laws like this do lots of harm and very little, if any, good.

    All that is going to happen is that people will either ignore the law or will be put off having any contact with other people's children so at best, nothing will change and at worst yet more children will miss out on the opportunity to take part in a sporting or social activity.

    The "it's worth it" argument is about as convincing as the "if you've got nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear" argument. Both are overly simplistic and fail to take into account the harm that they are doing to our society.

    The constant fear and mistrust of our fellow citizens is a big contributing factor to the disintegration of our society and laws like this only add fuel to the fire by making parents even more distrustful of other adults, children more fearful of adults and prevent or discourage adults from taking part in any activity with other people's children.

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  • 49. At 4:12pm on 11 Sep 2009, artian wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 50. At 4:18pm on 11 Sep 2009, jon112uk wrote:

    29. At 2:23pm on 11 Sep 2009, dichorionic wrote:
    "In my voluntary work in the youth sector we have already seen a decline in recruitment because people are discouraged by the intrusion of a criminal records check, not because they are paedophiles."

    True, but there is another reason as well.

    1/3 of adult males are on the police national computer. Some people have silly but embarassing convictions from decades ago. They are now 'pillars of the community' - they won't volunteer with your group because the slip up 25 years ago might come up, causing them considerable embarassment.

    True example....

    72 year old methodist church goer who loved volunteering as the church organist. Church decides he must have a CRB (!!!!). When he was in his 20s - 50 years ago - he had been fined by the magistrates for fighting while intoxicated. Scared that this would disclosed to his friends at the church, he quits the organ playing.


    (Under the new rules, this conviction would probably have been 'weeded' and/or 'stepped down' - but he would have no way of being SURE it would not be disclosed until the check came back. He would probably still have to drop out to be certain.)

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  • 51. At 4:25pm on 11 Sep 2009, Flexiworkingmother wrote:

    I am happy to undergo any CRB or equivalent check. In fact, as a public post holder within the NHS, I already did so. But the issue which is so sad is in allowing anyone to think that a piece of paper will help solve these heinous things from happening, nor do they assist the victims once it has happened. What budget do the government set aside for the treatment and counselling of adults suffering complex post traumatic stress disorder as a result of childhood sexual abuse? Compare that to NHS budgets to get people to quit smoking. The cost to the economy of CSA is HUGE in terms of long term disability, mental health issues, victims turning to drug abuse and alcohol as coping strategies, victims being re-victimised, turning to prostitution (more than half of all prostitutes in a recent survey reported having been abused as children). But the help just isn't there, apart from small pockets of privately run charities. GPs roll their eyes heavenward and mentally note "neurotic" on the notes of a CSA survivor. They get drugged up with anti-depressants. The effects can include eating and sleep disorders, IBS, gynaecological problems, depression, suicide, self-harm, sexual problems. CSA affects more women than breast cancer. But where is the organisation to help? You will not stop determined perpetrators. Can society show that it is civilised by at least properly treating those that are victims? I would like to see much more expenditure on this. Don't the political parties realise what a huge constituency they would be appealing to?

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  • 52. At 4:59pm on 11 Sep 2009, ReByrth wrote:

    Mark wrote of a "moral panic" of government in the light of child abuse especilly in Soham. 'Panic' might well be a suitable epithet for the Neo-Labourism of the Blair-Brown years - that and 'cynical manipulation'.

    Of late we've had, amongst others, panic over avian flu, terrorism, sex trafficking, swine flu, and now child abuse - all leading to massive public spending, 'jobs for the boys' (quangos) and/or draconian laws. Obviously Orwell's insight into Big Brother's use of hyper-anxiety to quell a population hasn't been lost on our Neo-Labourist 'masters'.

    Individual freedom and real life choice (not the meaningless battery of 'choice' trumpeted by Neo-Labourist politicians) are further eroded in the pursuit of some socialist Utopia. Yet year on year we move ever closer to that dark Shadow of socialism, viz a Stalinist Big Brother State which believes individuals are merely the State's property to mould and do with as they wish.

    Pity the moral imperatives that supposedly lie behind the government's concerns aren't applied to Mandelson's 'filthy rich' heroes.

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  • 53. At 5:16pm on 11 Sep 2009, threnodio wrote:

    My partner recently was unable to work in spite of the availability of contracts because she was required to obtain a new CRB. It took the authorities 11 weeks to process and cost a small fortune in lost earnings. At a time when even the party in power is having to reflect that government is simply too large, it is utterly absurd to create yet another set of rules and regs.

    There is a very simple answer which would protect children and vulnerable adults and be much more affordable and practical.

    1. Anyone who is directly involved with children and the vulnerable would be required to have a document showing a criminal record clear of any offences which would make them inappropriate. Anyone should be able to go to a Social Security office and obtain a print out from a computer linked directly to the CRO. It would be valid for a fixed period unless withdrawn. No new application would be needed for job on contract changes.

    2. The document would be suspended if the holder was arrested and charged with a relevent offence and withdrawn altogether on conviction.

    3. The information would be available on a website to which any employer, contracting authority or member of the public could refer at any time.

    the Data Protection Act allows people to have access to any information held on computer about themselves and the Freedom of Information Act allows others access to information for legitimate reasons. The CRB process is a failed attempt at over-regulation. One is tempted to the conclusion that, a bit like speed cameras, it was originally seen as a cash cow for the Treasury and, now the costs of running it have greatly outstripped the already exhorbitant fees, the whole process is coming to a grinding halt. Jobs for the boys, totally unnecessary time delays for job seekers/changers and a complete waste of public money on something which could be so simple - if only some thought had gone into it.

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  • 54. At 5:17pm on 11 Sep 2009, calmandhope wrote:

    I wonder whether these new checks will apply to politicians, as they always have to have the token talks to younger people to secure the photoshoot.

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  • 55. At 5:43pm on 11 Sep 2009, endorman wrote:

    This adds another element to the infrastructure necessary for the establishment of a totalitarian state

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  • 56. At 6:09pm on 11 Sep 2009, rgar wrote:

    Given that, as others have pointed out, for serious abuse to take place the abuser must either be a parent, gain the trust of the parents and/or child, or forcibly abduct the child, and that most cases of abuse are by family members or friends of the family, this legislation is not going to have a massive impact in terms of actually reducing abuse. Were the legislation harmless, it might still be worthwhile, but the truth is that in Britain any adult male is already seen as a potential paedophile and there is such a degree of paranoia that plenty of normal adult males are shunning contact with children for fear of being labelled paedophiles - I personally know men that shun contact with nephews for example for this reason - a decision that is not unreasonable when a man can have 'paedo, paedo' shouted at him for saying 'hi' to children (this actually happened to an acquaintance). This is not good for the children, or for the adults, or for society in general, and legislation pandering to this surely makes the situation worse. The same media that feeds the hysteria of course also screams about 'feral children' - could normal adults being driven to shun contact with children have anything to do with 'feral' children? The first law of holes is to stop digging. Wouldn't it be better to base policy on the known realities of abuse rather than media-fed hysteria?

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  • 57. At 6:51pm on 11 Sep 2009, freemind66 wrote:

    Taking this to a logical conclusion, if you're a parent and your children want friends to sleep over then you should first be subject to a police check.
    If you have a criminal record a large X should be branded on your forehead. This will inform other parents that they shouldn't let their children play with yours.
    The government should actually introduce new laws stripping us entirely of freedom. If we have nothing to hide do we really need to be free?

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  • 58. At 6:52pm on 11 Sep 2009, MallardMK wrote:

    Please support the cause, join the Facebook group as a first step.

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  • 59. At 7:11pm on 11 Sep 2009, paul scarf wrote:

    Reasonable demand for dangerous people in one county going to work in another without recourse to shared police knowledge has long been a problem supposedly covered by shared databases. But how difficult was that in the face of the 'nanny state' and 'we are being watched' mentality ?
    We want freedoms to be unmonitored and to have the rogue elements that have existed since the dawn of time noted. Okay, so we are asked to consider the possibilty that our own misgivings on an individual are superseded by checks that are passable with any amount of deception, thereby removing suspicions based on instinct to those wielding bits of paper stating 'fit for purpose'.
    Expect at best minimal applications from those with nothing to hide but who object to snooping, others who may like a bit of a smoke at the weekends avoiding failure of a test that has nothing to do with perversion and an increase in offers from natural born deceivers bypassing a system that now removes all those who don't care to have their weekend foibles cripple their kind hearted midweek help.
    The bum has finally bitten itself.

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  • 60. At 8:01pm on 11 Sep 2009, delminister wrote:

    as i am not a parent my views are coloured by information most picked from the bbc and i only look at ways to solve problems rather than buring my head in the sand and letting things happen.

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  • 61. At 8:23pm on 11 Sep 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    In just seven years....speed of light for the bureaucrats. Impossible guidelines that may have cleared some of the disciples of Christ and probably will not be enforced over time. The government was watching the bankers too. Governments are always pretending to be doing something, keeping busy for the sake of keeping busy. Poor volunteer wanting to provide some assitance in the community will now be in the iron maiden of the bureaucrats mainly reviewing past tax records. Job vetting individuals from Carribean will be by senior management and require interviews with homeland neighbors. Somebody has to do it.

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  • 62. At 9:25pm on 11 Sep 2009, Spiny Norman wrote:

    Can we choose Peter for Bishop of Rome?

    No chance; he has an unexpired conviction for denial...

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  • 63. At 11:06pm on 11 Sep 2009, Richard1634 wrote:

    How is all this legislation to "protect" children actually helping anything? It will simply give chidren less to do and thus cause even more problems with boredom which then leads to crime, anti-social behaviour etc. CRB checks are too expensive as well. They're just a revenue stream for the government and another cosy little earner for the legal profession. It's just typing a name into a database search or two - how can that be so expensive? The whole thing could be done on-line at virtually no cost.

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  • 64. At 00:01am on 12 Sep 2009, senorlloyds wrote:

    Will priests and clergy be included in this???
    I am a survivor of sexual abuse from the catholic parish priest at the age of 14.
    It took me until I was 48 to achieve 99% closure on my life as a victim of sexual abuse.
    He was no longer a priest but was working with social services involving work with children and vulnerable adults. Part of my closure was to inform social services, who suspended him there and then, but no follow up enquiry happened.
    He is now retired on a full pension!!!!!!
    No amount of investigation and enquiry will remove these predators from our society.

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  • 65. At 01:37am on 12 Sep 2009, OwlEdinburgh wrote:

    This is our control-freak government's way of miring Britain deeper into a state of fear and suspicion whilst at the same time lining its coffers.

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  • 66. At 01:54am on 12 Sep 2009, OwlEdinburgh wrote:

    This is our control-freak government's way of miring Britain deeper into a state of fear and suspicion whilst at the same time lining its coffers.


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  • 67. At 06:53am on 12 Sep 2009, fillandfrowpist wrote:

    All serious crimes are avoidable - with hindsight.

    But the levels of hysteria on child crime stoked up by a media that takes every facet of a case and turns it into a cutting edge has produced such expectation hasn't it? No one stops to think - at least four out of five cases of abuse involve someone the child knows - not completely avoidable then but the first line of defence, the parent, has a lot they can do. Will a third party database help? Not as much as simple trusted intuition.

    And doesn't this database contain all the evidence of our failures?

    What is it with a society that builds third party fantasies to blame for failures when every single person has the power to stop things before they start? Have parents forgotten what responsibility for a child is, or have the authorities (social engineers) managed to damage that sense of responsibility beyond repair?

    BTW Thank you virtual silver lady for the most sensible entry here - #6

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  • 68. At 08:36am on 12 Sep 2009, CComment wrote:

    This government wants everyone to "register" for any activity - and pay for the privilige. Pretty soon Landlords will have to register - in fact in Scotland you already have to. You pay so much to be deemed "a good landlord". Nobody actually checks you out of course - the simple process of PAYING some useless jobsworth entitles you to a "good" rating.
    And it will be exactly the same with this "Vetting and Barring". An army of useless jobsworths charging 11 million people 64 quid each to be deemed "reliable". No real checks - no real vetting - just pay up, folks. And you can imagine the administrative mistakes that will be made. Thousands of perfectly reliable people will get accidentally blacklisted by incompetent clerks. Meanwhile total reliance on such a "tick-box" scheme will give real paedophiles free rein for 64 quid, because once they've paid and been deemed trustworthy, who's going to challenge their appointment to sensitive roles ?
    Obviously some bright spark in the Treasury has reckoned that 11 million times 64 quid is a nice little earner. In reality if this mad scheme is ever implemented it will be an administrative nightmare and in reality make it EASIER for kids to be abused. Caledonian Comment

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  • 69. At 09:13am on 12 Sep 2009, PSyrius wrote:

    So many incisive 'killer' points made against this apalling idiocy, forgive me for adding four more & a suggestion:

    denying all children (& adults) physical contact is a far worse crime than failing to protect all children (& adults) from abuse;

    physical contact is a pre-requisite for a person's development in all spheres especially emotional & thus for their happiness;

    in all the Mediterranean countries (just for starters) people reflexively hug, kiss, hair ruffle, cheek pinch children (& adults);

    in these unruly society's their governement's excessive stupidities are ignored, we should do the same, the system is unworkable if 11m adults resist so join Pullman & others & refuse to be a part of the biggest abuse of children ever attempted in UK.

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  • 70. At 11:25am on 12 Sep 2009, MallardMK wrote:

    Hear Hear to so much of what is written here. Particularly agree with PSyrius. Having lived for many years in Mediterranean and other countries I absolutely second the comment about these. My children spent their early years in Greece and Macedonia and the universal attitude of people, including strangers, towards them, was genuine, natural affection and desire to protect. Returning to the UK and its growing atmosphere of fear and risk-obsession is the greatest culture-shock I have ever encountered.

    Do those countries have more cases of child abuse than us? I don't have the statistics, but would guess perhaps as many within the family but fewer outside it. Where they undeniably differ from us is in their enduring sense of community and proportion.

    If anyone knows how to get involved in the campaign against this nonsense please can they post details. If not please do join the FB group mentioned above. As soon as we find a bigger, better organised or more high profile campaign group we will merge with it.

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  • 71. At 1:30pm on 12 Sep 2009, retaketheasylum wrote:

    I've created a Ning social website for people who feel strongly on this topic to help build pressure for the legislation to be revoked and to develop ideas for a better balanced way of thinking about VBS and other areas of the whole working with children thing. Not sure if it will help but it can't hurt

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  • 72. At 5:17pm on 12 Sep 2009, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    Dear Mark,
    I don't think the quangos are looking to prevent harmless marijuana tokers just men and (sometimes)women who sexually prey on innocent children. How many boys become confused about their sexuality after being abused by some twisted parent? It's wrong that society has been so lax about these horrendous crimes for so long. I say protect children at all cost. If you're a volunteer and you don't want to be screened then don't do it. The only issue that has potential consequences are parents who mill about the school yard to pick up their children at the beginning and end of the school day. If they too aren't screened should they remain outside the school gate?

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  • 73. At 5:33pm on 12 Sep 2009, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    and furthermore, child sexual issues seemed to get worse when large corporations started peddling sex films. How come they never go after the big players?

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  • 74. At 9:35pm on 12 Sep 2009, Somali_Bus_Conductor wrote:

    Paedomania seems to grow apace.

    A woman at a bus stop tells me her daughter was filmed by a 'paedophile', when she complains to the police they do nothing because 'everyone knows they are in it together with the judges'.

    A Work colleague (now, I regret to say, a special constable), informs me as a fact that Paedophiles hang around children's Playgrounds and take photos of them.

    Many collections on Flickr ban photos of children on something like the grounds that 'there are strange people around', despite the fact that if so minded you can view millions of photos of children on that same site.

    A photographer in one MSN group (now closed) is abused in the street as a pervert when carrying a recently purchased second-hand camera (with no film).

    We are truly in the grip of a mass mania.


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  • 75. At 10:46pm on 12 Sep 2009, _mdwh_ wrote:

    I agree with iwinter, I thought about the "extreme porn" laws too when I read this.

    And the issues are not entirely unrelated - those into consensual S&M risk being adversely affected by these laws too. The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 specifically lists possessing sexual images depicting violence (which, as we know from the extreme porn laws would include between consenting adults, and even staged acts with fictional violence) as being a reason to exclude someone from work. Then there are worries (such as this story) of people being questioned or blocked based on their involvement in the BDSM scene.

    Not to say it's just a BDSM issue of course - there are many reasons to worry about such an intrusive scheme.

    @clampdip: Don't give them ideas! This Government has and will gladly support censorship, on the grounds of fighting "the big players" - although yes, in practice, such laws have adversely affected minority and alternative producers, non-commercial producers and even those just taking a private photo, whilst mainstream industry is unaffected.

    (And I would like to see evidence at claims of a correlation - which even if it existed, doesn't imply causation. I'd question your "seemed to get worse" - the whole reason we get these laws is because of claims that it's getting worse, and therefore something must be done, but no evidence of whether things are getting worse or not has been presented.)

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  • 76. At 11:35pm on 12 Sep 2009, leanomist wrote:

    Hype, Panic & Policy - an accurate description of reality in this case, and the way the Government has 'managed' our nation for the last decade.

    Take a look at which makes this point which adds more information to the points made here.

    Is Mark going to be the person in the BBC to lead the challenge and change things for the better?

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  • 77. At 08:29am on 13 Sep 2009, fillandfrowpist wrote:

    Childhood is supposed to be a wonderful age of innocence and curiosity which we only have once in our lives. And yet to protect that "innocence" we continue to destroy it bit by cynical bit. We create "guilt" where there is no guilt; we create "dangerous creatures" where there are simply beautiful playing fields; we create "suspicion and paranoia" where there are empathic spirits at work.

    We allow corporate interests to create sexuality in childhood as early as they dare, to drive an industry that is rich in takings and in no mood to protect any innocence that may starve them of their greed. We allow corporations to sponsor events that draw children into a web of deceits and hidden binds instead of allowing each child their own gift of exploration and discovering treasures.

    Just as soon as we are old enough we forget that rich sensation of innocence as we boldly rush towards what passes for experience; we simply do not understand that it is innocence that moulds gracefulness, peacefulness, respect, trust, humbleness and modesty and all the great qualities that we seek in the truly charismatic person.

    Once children had a chance; now we give them so very little chance of anything. It is all so very sad.

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  • 78. At 09:03am on 13 Sep 2009, D_H_Wilko wrote:

    There is paranoia on this issue but not from any legislation like this. Its from the sensationalist media which likes to stir up a bit of anger. If there's child abuse its angry about 'why aren't the government doing enough?'. if something is done about it its 'Why are the government treating adults like they're all potential paedophiles?' The real answer is that the media has done that. Not entirely wrong but its gone over the top.
    This will obviously just produce a load of angry comment from political bloggers with lame comments like '1984 is a work of fiction not a blueprint' Instead of angry comments from the sling 'em up brigade if nothing was done.

    If you want to work anywhere near children for a wage, you need a CRB check. I'd also assumed that volunteers needed the same thing. Why wouldn't they?

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  • 79. At 09:34am on 13 Sep 2009, fillandfrowpist wrote:


    Quote: "If you want to work anywhere near children for a wage, you need a CRB check. I'd also assumed that volunteers needed the same thing. Why wouldn't they?"

    I note that nowhere in your comment do you say why. So are you really writing that "it goes without saying". That is precisely the tenure of "Nineteen Eighty Four".

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  • 80. At 10:37am on 13 Sep 2009, Doctor Bob wrote:

    I agree with most of what's been said here.

    It is no longer feasible to help a distressed child alone in public. The dictates of police bureaucracy will almost certainly lead to your arrest and appearance on the police DNA database even if no charges are pressed.

    This legislation might indeed backfire, alienating children from adults even more. Panic measures usually incur unintended consequences.

    The agencies purporting to be protecting vulnerable people are now so immersed in legislative bureaucracy, each preserving its boundaries, that co-ordination is increasingly difficult. All bureaucracy is defensive: "Have we followed the procedures correctly? Fine, then we're covered." There is no room for judgement or common sense. Morality no longer comes into the equation except via tick-boxes and form-filling.

    We've learned nothing from recent cases of extreme abuse (to children and the elderly) - that we have to rethink the entire issue of how to repair the community.

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  • 81. At 10:45am on 13 Sep 2009, D_H_Wilko wrote:

    79 fillup.

    I am afraid you've misunderstood. The best way to check people is to treat everybody the same and automatically check without any presumption everyon who gets a job working with children. There's no other way of doing it. as for 1984 by George Orwell you can find elements in that book to find criticism of every government past and present. It is a work of dystopian fantasy not a prediction of 'NuLab' I find the name Airstrip one interesting for exampla after our role in allowing the americans to fly from here to Bomb Libya. I also think the 2 minutes hate reflects certain elements of our media.

    Not necessarily you, but I think there are a few people adapting any issue to attack the government on these blogs. It doesn't seem to be a genuine discussion about an issue, just people arguing for their own favourite brand of government.

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  • 82. At 11:20am on 13 Sep 2009, fillandfrowpist wrote:


    Thanks for that dhw.

    I think "treating everyone the same" is the problem, since no two people are alike either in behaviour or motive. As for "no other way", allowing people the use of their mental faculties did achieve success (with as many failures as now) prior to CRB checks. It is just that there is a focus on "catastrophic" failure with a resultant knee-jerk belief that we must (and can) stamp it out. The history of life suggests otherwise.

    There are parallels in our health and safety rules, where "risk assessments" are a one size fits all approach. These do not do what common sense alone achieves because there is a focus on preventing, instead of managing, risk. Taking school children on a holiday should be no more onerous for teachers than it is for parents and yet the processes are totally different.

    Even the police when managing demonstrations make presumptions about "protesters" (note the change from the use of the word "demonstrators") and use a "one size fits all" approach commonplace in handling football "hooligans" (not "supporters") and "kettle" (rather than "bully") people less they do something unpleasant.

    A "one size fits all" approach to life may be the rule in a dictatorship, but it has no place in a free society populated with individuals with names, backgrounds, and a wish to be alive without having to "think twice" about anything and everything they do.

    A lot of life is purely instinctive for very good reason.

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  • 83. At 12:16pm on 13 Sep 2009, D_H_Wilko wrote:


    Sorry I think you've misunderstood again. Perhaps its my fault. I'll try once more. In the case of criminal checks it is 'one size fits all'. Thats the point of the legal system. people should be treated with prejudice but checks need to be made to help protect children and vulnerable people. The only way that can be done is to automatically check everyone who is to be employed working with Children. This is done as just part of the procedure and you are informed of CRB requirement when you apply. In a way this helps to avoid suspicion because as the person is working there you know he has been checked. Not a guarentee I know, but it helps.

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  • 84. At 12:19pm on 13 Sep 2009, sayno2id wrote:

    I agree with the majority of the posts here (I'm assuming #2 is tongue-in-cheek).
    #17 is just naive.
    #78 makes a good point about the media (it's probably their fault we have this legislation now!) but his final paragraph is again naive and he follows this up with #81. Being part of the "if you've done nothing wrong you've got nothing to worry about" brigade is not seeing the big picture at all.
    Read through the comments, the majority of which bring up many intersting and pertinent points, and you may just come to understand why this legislation will (a) be ineffective, (b) drive away volunteers, and (c) further degrade our society.
    Interestingly, this legislation does nothing to cover the situation which sparked it off. The girls went to visit Carr, not Huntley. He was not a volunteer but a school caretaker. Lord Bichard's report stated people working with children (such as school caretakers) should be vetted, and also more checks made on overseas workers.
    However, it is the Nanny State, poke its nose into everything, Government's own quango which has taken this several steps too far.

    #33 You arrange the march and I'll be there!

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  • 85. At 1:39pm on 13 Sep 2009, millionpercentmanc wrote:

    There is another aspect to this which seems to be missed and has been a growing problem in legislation over the past few years and that is unwitting breaking of the law.
    Breaking the law used to be clear as a breach of a moral code be that violence, theft, unreasonable behaviour etc. We now have a whole set of laws which put asbolutely morally upright citizens at risk of a criminal record by complexity of administrative tasks.
    So for example in this case if you are Jenny's mum and the netball coach arranges a rota so you drive members of the team to a match every 5 weeks you don't need a V+B check but if Zoe's mum can't make it the following week and the coach asks you to cover, by doing so you will be breaking the law and liable to £5000 fine and a criminal record for not having a V+B check!!! This would then show up if you subsequently applied for one and would be likely to mean you didn't pass!!! Possible professional suicide for doing the community a favour
    We are currently legislated to submission so that it is practically impossible not to unwittingly place yourself at risk every day.
    If you have nothing to hide you have plenty to fear!

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  • 86. At 1:48pm on 13 Sep 2009, D_H_Wilko wrote:


    "Being part of the "if you've done nothing wrong you've got nothing to worry about" brigade is not seeing the big picture at all."

    You musn't put clichés in my mouth. I didn't say that. There is an air of media hyped suspicion already that would put of people especially men in from volunteering to help with children and vulnerable groups. I suggested that it might act as some reassurance to people who are maybe over sensitive to these issues, that they are automatically as part of the recruitment process checked. I don't understand though why you need checks for paid work and you haven't up until now needed checks for similar work in the voluntary sector. Whats the difference? Its all about how you view this issue. If you're an angry type you'll see it as they the establishment are trying to prove your a paedophile. Others will see it as assurance that the employer is employing someone suitable by doing checks automatically without prejudice so no offence is caused to the candidate and clients are more reasured.

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  • 87. At 2:27pm on 13 Sep 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    I don't know where to start with this.
    Must we simply wrap all the children up in cotton wool and never let them out?

    1 in 9 pre-teens suffer serious sexual abuse???? I simply don't believe it. Some clear stats please .... or if true then the UK is surely the world's worst place to live.

    There appears to be no common sense in the official approach to this. Yes there is a danger as paedophiles exist. Should we investgate everyone who could possibly have contact with children ??? Ridiculous.

    Since most abusers are family members why not go the whole Orwellian hog and require a license to breed .... lie detectors and so on. Only the pure may procreate!

    It makes me glad to live in Italy where children are still treated well by everyone .. strangers approach them in the street and tousle their hair with a whispered "Che bello" - a compliment to any parent.

    We need some common sense in the UK. The devious paedophiles will always find their way around any knee-jerk stupidity simply because they are devious.

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  • 88. At 2:29pm on 13 Sep 2009, sayno2id wrote:

    Hi dhw,
    I wasn't putting words in your mouth, just describing my view of the type of people likely to have the viewpoint you (might) do, just judging from your posts.

    I can understand what you're saying about automatic checks, but that still doesn't negate all the other viewpoints saying why checks (automatic or not) are bad in this case.

    To answer your perfectly good question "I don't understand though why you need checks for paid work and you haven't up until now needed checks for similar work in the voluntary sector. Whats the difference?".
    I have to, by law, send my children to school and I have little or no say in who they come into contact with because of that. Hence I would expect people working there to be vetted for anything obvious (e.g. you don't want a murderer out on parole working at a school, as an extreme example) but also for those doing the hiring (Head Teacher or Deputies?) to use their judgement and instinct when interviewing for jobs. However, I realise two things. Firstly, the CRB check isn't infallible and I don't think any check would be. Secondly, risk is a part of life and though we can be careful of obvious dangers we must realise anything can happen any time.
    When it comes to voluntary pursuits then that is where my role as parent comes in (note, NOT the Government's role). If I'm not happy about my son or daughter travelling with someone then either they don't go or I make alternative arrangements. If my child wants to join a club then I investigate, talk to people and use my judgement. Do I know the people? How long has the club been running? Any bad gossip about it? What time/day does it run? In what area? etc. etc.

    This is just bad law.

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  • 89. At 3:14pm on 13 Sep 2009, D_H_Wilko wrote:

    Hi sn2id!!!

    You appear to suggest that its about litigation rather than protection. If something goes wrong at a club then its the parents fault for not checking the club out. but schools have to be checked to avoid being sued I disagree with that. Its not easy to tell if someone is a danger to children but it is much easier to prejudge someone that they are a danger. This prejudice is more of a put off than government legislation Some people won't have the time or resources to check out these clubs but it would be desirable for their children to take part. You know, Hoodies and that.

    others re wrapping up in cotton wool

    Completely agree! but on the grounds of the childs safety. They need to have the lifeskills to avoid danger. Which is best learned through experience. Its not relevent to being left with adults in a position of trust. That trust must be assured.

    The fact that the Government is making the organisations run checks may help avoid an atmosphere of mistrust between volunteer and organisation by tactically passing the buck. Its the government who require us to check rather than the organisation. Like a customer service deals with a difficult customer who wants something they can't have by phoning a manager who says no.

    I don't have any problem with this although may go too far.

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  • 90. At 3:44pm on 13 Sep 2009, CComment wrote:

    Will people who wish to adopt, straight or gay, have to undergo these checks ? Caledonian Comment

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  • 91. At 4:08pm on 13 Sep 2009, sayno2id wrote:

    dhw! tut tut! Now who's putting words in mouths!! lol!

    I never said a word about litigation. All I have been talking about, as have the majority of the posters here, is common sense.

    You make it sound all very reasonable which in your mind I'm sure it is, but you're not thinking about the consequences, one of which is criminalising normal everyday behaviour. Not just as regards fines but also to people's thoughts and reactions. "Give your kids a lift? No, sorry, I haven't got that certificate. No, I'm not a paedo!!"

    Your example of parents blindly sending their kids to a club because it is Government checked just doesn't ring true and sounds more like someone grasping at straws to try to justify it (you're not a Government minister are you? lol!). Let's face facts, for the majority of parents this is the check list: How much does it cost? Where is it? When is it on? Is it safe? If you can't afford it or get your child there then they're not going, end of. Now the 'is it safe?' question. It is very bad parenting indeed to assume a club is safe because the Government says so (they never get anything wrong now, do they!). A parent would ask who else goes there and what their friends think of it. A parent would go along the first night to check it out themselves. Even schools you go and have a look around before putting your choices down.

    I'm sorry but this blind assumption that things will be ok if the Government has control of it does indeed sound Orwellian.

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  • 92. At 5:23pm on 13 Sep 2009, D_H_Wilko wrote:

    91 which is about my comment 88

    Sorry but I'm too bored with this to play along at the moment. Maybe you can reel in someone else. Good luck with it!

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  • 93. At 5:28pm on 13 Sep 2009, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 94. At 6:09pm on 13 Sep 2009, sayno2id wrote:

    92 dhw
    This is not about playing or reeling anybody in, this is about a serious issue. I'm not some forum troll, I joined up today specifically to comment on this issue. Members of the "if you've done nothing wrong you've got nothing to worry about" brigade need to see the big picture on what laws like this do to our society.

    I'll take your "boredom" as capitulation on the arguement, though I doubt you will come around to realising that this law is wrong.

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  • 95. At 6:37pm on 13 Sep 2009, SnoddersB wrote:

    Well the problem is a minor one. When my daughter was little we could easily put 4 in the back and take them anywhere, now you would be hard pressed to put 2 children in any car as you are required to fit child seats, which take up more room than the average adult. The government want to monitor us totally and this is probably a backdoor way to have all vetted and tagged for the burocrats in Brussels. Of course the final outcome will be that there will be nothing for children to do outside school, Oh may be that is the idea the little beggers are not doing enough homework for the governments liking, so the bored and riotous children will be seen on street corners causing trouble.
    I presume that the police have all been CRB checked as they will be ferrying the little beggers back home or to the police station after the trouble, and don't expect me to help either I will not have anything to do with anyone elses children or grandchildren as I have no intention bowing down to thei dictatorial and failoed government.
    I will certainly be signing the pettition when it appears.

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  • 96. At 7:16pm on 13 Sep 2009, D_H_Wilko wrote:

    I've tried to use my "Common sense" to see this as a Conspiracy by Nulab to destroy our freedoms and create a Big Brother society but I can't. It all seems a bit far fetched. You'd think they'd hide it better wouldn't you!
    I would of thought that a few more people would have a little more sympathy with this idea of child protection but instead we get a load of people political point scoring with some spaced out political conspiracy theory. Politics isn't everything. Or maybe its this chip in my head talking? who knows?

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  • 97. At 7:56pm on 13 Sep 2009, _ReadMe_ wrote:

    @2 - Your post should be deleted it has the potential to encourge unlawfal laws being created.

    By the time I'm 20 it saddens me so much that I wouldn't be suprised if myself and others would have to get vetted before wanting to start a family. I can picture the process now ugh...uttery disgusting.
    Do you remeber when you were young around 2-6ish running around on a beach in you kickers or boxers with no top on, I have a feeling your gonna be accused of being suspicious if you were with a child and you let them do that now...cause everybody must be a potential pedophile..blah blah blah...

    You know growing up and still not being able to vote against the people making these silly laws up is utterly frustrating.

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  • 98. At 9:02pm on 13 Sep 2009, KennethM wrote:

    I think it is wrong for the BBC to offer its own opinions on this matter. It is also against the BBC’s editorial guidelines.

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  • 99. At 9:28pm on 13 Sep 2009, IHaveaDream wrote:

    This is the final conclusive, without any shadow of a doubt, evidence that No 10 the lunatics are running the asylum. We don't need new laws. What we need is less laws and better policing of those laws.
    #96 - this law has nothing to do with child protection, because if it did nuLabour would be focused more on enforcement of existing laws than simply adding gratutious ink to the statuet books. This is an reactionary, incompetent law by a reactionary, incompetent government which does want to interfer with the running of our lives.
    I am a parent and if I ever have to have a criminal check because I want to take my children and their friends to a football match then I will not take them, simple as that. This government is obsessed with interfering in the lives of it's citizens and there comes a point when enough is enough.
    Surely you have to see sense. (Or it may well be the chip that nuLabour has inserted into your head whilst taking your DNA, your retinal scan and your fingerprints.)

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  • 100. At 9:41pm on 13 Sep 2009, ABBishop wrote:

    Having been through the process of having an allegation made against me, let me assure you that Police, Social Servcies and in my case The Local catholic Diocese completely and utterly believe what the child says.
    In the case of the church, even when the Judge declared the girl not credible deemed me Not Guilty [still innocent], Police and Social servcies agreed I was and never had been any risk to children [I have 2 girls and am happily married], the church then re instated me as a volunteer and I got a clean enhanced CRB certificate countersigned by them - then a month later, mysteriously, a review of my case appeared on the crime report file conflicting with all other results.
    There are people in this whole arena who just will not accept that innocent means innocent - lots and lots of people, mainly teachers, crack up and lose their livlihoods and reputations beacuse of false or unsubstantiated allegations - they are treated as collateral damage - but were they not children once? Are they not still the children of parents, no matter how old?
    A child who alleges, aged 17 is only a child for another few months - they could then suffer a false alleagtaion and be thrown to the wolves -Fair? or not? There are a lot of mad people involved in this and they are not just the abusers!!

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  • 101. At 9:43pm on 13 Sep 2009, Codingmonkey wrote:

    There is another side to the Vetting and it's the reason why I am simply refusing to go along with this on a voluntary project I donate my time and energy to. I will simply not drive or have any contact with the children/teenagers on the project. ( There is no opt-out as well.)

    The reason for getting one is that the error rate for CRB checks is about 1 in 2000/3000 [1]. Since they use the Criminal Records Bureau that is not a chance I want to take. Every time I would be checked I would have a 0.05% (0.23% [2] last March) chance of my complete life ruined by a bad check branding me as a Paedophile. This is an unacceptable chance that I would my life would be completely ruined by a Civil Servant.

    [1] In 2008/9 there were 1,570 errors out a total of 3 900 000 CRB checks giving the error rate of 0.05%
    [2] [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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  • 102. At 9:58pm on 13 Sep 2009, purplebluesprout wrote:

    dhw quote 'I've tried to use my "Common sense" to see this as a Conspiracy by Nulab to destroy our freedoms and create a Big Brother society but I can't. It all seems a bit far fetched. You'd think they'd hide it better wouldn't you!'
    I think that the government have realized that they don't need to be subtle anymore. consider the amount of legislation passed in the last 12 years that curtail our freedoms and ban us from cirtain activities. has there been rioting in the streets to object to this? NO! Have we managed to shame any of our M.P,'s into resigning when they appear to take the *iss with there expenses? (apart from the one in Scunthorpe)NO! Despite protests are we still fighting in Iraq? (and we've had an election since then).
    we as a nation appear to have become impotent, and let our leaders do what they like. a little moan here, and a little niggle there and that's as much opposition as anyone puts up.
    we moan and do nothing and i think that Gordy n his cronies realize this. So no, i don't belive that the goverment feels it need to 'hide' it's more unsavory policies.

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  • 103. At 10:49pm on 13 Sep 2009, D_H_Wilko wrote:

    "I am a parent and if I ever have to have a criminal check because I want to take my children and their friends to a football match then I will not take them"

    I've Seen this example before, but I don't think its relevant as it is under:

    Quote Markeaston@0
    The register will not apply to "family or personal" arrangements

    There may be problems with the law, but im not really interested in this Big brother nonsense. I think tbese people need to step away from the internet where like minded people reinforce their paranoid theories and think about it rationally. Why would anyone want to track you and trample on your freedoms? What is the motivation? How come so many people know? Why arn't Murdoch & Son on the case now they like Cameron?

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  • 104. At 11:12pm on 13 Sep 2009, tarquin wrote:

    the current CRB check vets 6 million people and the decision is up to the employer, this ISA scheme will vet over 11 million people and is legally enforceable

    How many extra people will it bar? An extra 20,000 (estimate) - so that's 0.4% of the extra people being vetted

    Should we really be risking our liberty (and cash) for this level of effectiveness?

    and no, one saved person is not worth this level of state control

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  • 105. At 02:03am on 14 Sep 2009, Rock_Bottom wrote:

    Before I really get going; it's doubtful whether there is enough space on the BBC servers for me to highlight the problems I have found in the ISA's process and the Government's approach to child protection in general.
    I'm currently being hauled through the bureaucracy that is the ISA as the result of a false allegation. The allegation was investigated by the police who found no case to answer - they even said (on paper to boot!) I HAD NOT DONE WHAT HAD BEEN ALLEGED. (The removal of my arrest record, DNA and fingerprints is a rant I'll save for another day).
    However, my accuser was far from happy with this outcome - he had his own reputation to protect; so with a little conniving and the judicious editing of meeting-minutes; he referred my name to the ISA - who are now investigating.
    Regardless of whether they actually bar me from working with young people: my career (as an education professional) - ruined; life - ruined; personal relationships - ruined. The ISA have been 'investigating' for over 12 months and still I'm no closer to knowing whether I can ever return to my vocation as a teacher. I have no idea how long I'm going to have to wait for an answer, nor whether the decision they make will be based on the substantive facts that I have supplied in my representation (including police documentation and other sources of irrefutable fact) or on the hearsay and downright lies (that are hard to prove when documentation has been falsified) submitted by my accuser.
    The ISA claim to be independent (questionable enough) - very different from impartial (no mention of this!). For instance, The ISA have given me no guidance as to the kind of information I should submit when making representation as to why I should not be included on a barred list; yet they spoon-feed referring bodies/people when they make a referral. Remember - they are looking for reason TO bar me, not for reasons NOT to bar - very different stand-points. Independent? Yeah - right! Impartial? You're havin' a laugh!
    I'm not a politician, yet it's clear even to me, that it's not a smart political move to introduce such a pernicious bureaucracy that will affect a quarter of the electorate - without their consultation.
    Collateral damage on the scale predicted (over 100,000 false 'positives' (i.e. people branded as dangerous, when they are not)) is simply unacceptable.
    This hideous monstrosity needs to be publicly 'outed' - I'd love to do that (anonymously of course) and share my experiences with anyone who is concerned enough about justice and civil liberties to listen.
    The overwhelming message from my (unfortunately, too common) position is that the ISA is not about protecting children - it's about protecting the backs of ministers; the Police; social services and many others.
    When another poor child is harmed or even killed, each of the above will be able to say, guilt-free "we passed-on our concerns - so it's not our fault." What will the ISA have to say about this? "With the information we had available, we could not have predicted that [person x] posed a risk" - it's sickening to even begin to think what will happen then.
    Those of us who see this new body for what it really is must all take heed. One government official is reported to have said that anyone who wouldn't want to be vetted should be treated with suspicion.
    Remember, those whose agendas are furnished through the existance of the ISA are quick to point out that there's no smoke without fire. How dare right-thinking, up-standing and educated Britons speak out against this.
    I've barely scraped the surface here - so I'll finish with a simple message, based on common sense, and bitter experience: ABOLISH THE ISA - NOW!

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  • 106. At 08:14am on 14 Sep 2009, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 107. At 08:45am on 14 Sep 2009, tarquin wrote:

    105 - Rock bottom

    If you are found innocent (yes, that's effectively how the law works now...) and still face barriers to your employment as a teacher, then sue, sue, sue

    If there's no actual reason to bar you then sue for discrimination, defamation, whatever, I'm sure there's something under human rights law you can exploit, there always is

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  • 108. At 08:59am on 14 Sep 2009, elfrieda wrote:

    I totally agree with post 29 , when my husband and I are out for the day and he says hello to a child .. i feel like saying dont do that , its so sad , our grandchildren live in the USA and we often look at other children and think of how our grandchildren will be now, at the Zoo its a joy to watch childrens faces when they see the animals , soon we will all be afraid to even look never mind speak to a young person .this is just planting fear into parents minds even when its parents or close relatives who are usually responsible for child abuse. knee jerk reaction from a knee jerk government

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  • 109. At 09:06am on 14 Sep 2009, elfrieda wrote:

    I think I referred to post " in my post i meant post 23...

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  • 110. At 09:36am on 14 Sep 2009, JulieThankful wrote:

    My husband and I are currently in France, where it is quite normal for small children to greet adults by running up and giving them a hug and a kiss on both cheeks. This comes as a bit of a surprise to us Brits at first, given the current social climate in the UK.

    I don't see any reports in the French papers about hordes of paedophiles roaming the streets. Children are allowed to walk to school and play out on their own. I find the local teenagers to be polite and well adjusted and I don't feel at all threatened when I pass a group of them in town. Nor would I feel uneasy about speaking to a child who was lost or distressed. In brief, there is still SOCIETY in this country. They have not yet handed over all social resposibility to "The Authorities". It seems like less hassle to do the latter, but in the end it will destroy us all.

    I am mightily relieved to be away from our so-called "free" country at the moment. It all seems to be gong in the same direction. Everyone is guilty until proven innocent, and we seem set to hand over the power to judge that innocence to unelected quangoes. At this rate everyone will soon be chipped at birth and will need permits for everything. "If you are innocent you have nothing to fear!" Try telling that to the Birmingham Six.

    "1984" is running a little late, but it is surely on its way.

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  • 111. At 09:45am on 14 Sep 2009, calmandhope wrote:


    Thats a terrible story and I'm sorry to hear all that you've been through. With this new set up though all that you've been through will be a lot easier for other people to experiance sadly. And also it may make things a lot harder for you as well.

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  • 112. At 10:43am on 14 Sep 2009, JulieThankful wrote:

    And another thing...

    I saw that Haringey is being roundly condemned for placing a foster child with a person who was living in the same household as someone who was subsequently arrested for acts of terrorism. I have little sympathy for Haringey regarding the previous child abuse cases but this one is going a bit far!

    How on earth were they supposed to know that the fosterer was related to or friends with - not a CONVICTED terrorist - but someone who was thinking about becoming one? Did he leave the Bumper Book of Bomb-making on the coffee table? Was there a signed photo of Osama Bin Laden on the lounge wall? Even if he was already a police suspect at the time, would that give the council the right to blacklist all of his friends and relatives by reason of association?

    I can see that children might be influenced by religious or political fanatics so that they might become Jihadis etc. themselves when they are old enough to lift a gun, but surely nobody is suggesting that a would-be suicide bomber is more likely to be also a paedophile or a child-abuser? Or did Hitler REALLY eat babies too!?

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  • 113. At 10:43am on 14 Sep 2009, politecomment wrote:

    there are many sex offenders leading normal lives after an offence and punishment who are checked up on regularly and pose minimal risk. They are determined to put the past behind them. This objectionable piece of legislation will bar these reformed persons but open the flood gates for determined and dangerous persons who have so far been smart enough to evade the law, to obtain a clean bill of health and go on to abuse unsuspecting childern con their parebnts and social groups. Stop it now it will make matters worse.

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  • 114. At 10:44am on 14 Sep 2009, Codingmonkey wrote:


    If they "catch" 20,000 about 10% of those "caught" will be wrong. (The CRB checks currently have an error rate of about 0.05% though some months have been significantly higher.) This will result in about 2000 additional people branded as a Paedophile.

    Now the result of one of these checks failing incorrectly for a volunteer for a community project where everyone knows each other and lives near each other is pretty much devastating.

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  • 115. At 11:11am on 14 Sep 2009, John_H_6 wrote:

    What about the "law of unintended consequences"? The existing CRB rules have already had the effect of excluding anyone under 18 from many clubs and societies which previously accepted children. As examples, our local model railway society and astronomy society now exclude under 18s from membership, because getting CRB clearance for anyone who might work with them is prohibitive.

    In the real world, people who would cause harm to children are a tiny proportion of the population, yet the rules to deal with this small number of people mean that the vast majority of adults, and the children who would benefit from their knowledge and skills, miss out.

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  • 116. At 11:48am on 14 Sep 2009, Nucleargreen wrote:

    While thinking about this I realised just how big a scale these CRB checks will have to be. The majority of us will have to have one if working with people.

    Shopassitants (in anywhere but Anne Summers and shops with a similar audience)
    Pubs (which allow children)
    The Pope (if he was working in England!)
    Authors (who are planning on book signings/touring)
    Bands touring in England (think boybands and even bands like Slipknot who when I saw them live were surrounded by a gaggle of 14 year old boys asking for their pictures/autographs)
    The Britain's Got Talent Judges, Ant and Dec and the behind the scenes staff.
    Gordon Brown and all MPs (After all they are meant to travel around and meet the people in their constituencys)
    Anyone working in Resturants (McDonald's, Frankie and Bennies etc) or anywhere that sells food
    Bus Drivers
    Flights Attendants
    Those working in airports
    Dick and Dom and Noel Edmonds, most presenters on a show involving children or with an audience.
    Those who work in Supermarkets
    Oh and service stations
    Santas Claus and his elves

    Atleast prostitutes, casino/betting shop employees and anyone who works in a slaughterhouse, in an officer or factory won't have to suffer the demand of having a CRB check.

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  • 117. At 12:06pm on 14 Sep 2009, zainezero wrote:


    I'm glad someone mentioned the dangerous dogs act as this has the same feel to it.

    One point no-one seems to have picked up on is this isn't just aimed at people who have contact with children, but vulnerable adults as well. That covers prisoners, people in nursing homes, old people's activity clubs a local person who drives the elderly to the shops once a week...

    We regularly hear how the elderly feel neglected and ignored by society, either shuffled off to retirement homes, socially excluded and alienated or just not capable enough on their own. Take the example of a local man, with a minivan, offering to take half a dozen pensioners from his area to the shops. This offers them the chance to keep their independence, socialise with others, get out and about for a bit as well as doing their shopping. to put this at risk by having the minivan driver undergo a check is ludicrous. If they didnt feel safe with him they wouldn't go. Ask them if they want this outing put at risk. we all know what their answer would be.

    This isn't the only problem around the scheme. It takes into focus prisoners and drug users. Now we all know that drug use is a problem and can recognise there are a number of charities/volunteer agencies that do good work. Alcoholics anonymous, Narcotics anonymous etc etc. The reason behind their success is partly down to the "been there, done that" approach. people running the programmes will likely have a list of drug convictions. something which would cause them to be banned by the ISA. Do we really want them banned? how many addicts might they help in a year? how much might they reduce crime? take away the support structure in place and addicts will have no where to turn to and the cycle of their live will just continue - the drugs ruling what they do.

    take it wider...samaritans, childline...all of these people will need vetting. Their good work also being cancelled out.

    Now look at prisoners. their best chance of rehabilitation comes while they are incarcerated, the process begins there and is continued in the community. Take away any schemes in prison to help them with their addictions and what do you think is going to happen when they leave?

    This is a shocking knee jerk reaction that has nto had enough thought go into it. for more information or to contact them. It's a shame they don't have a forum...

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  • 118. At 12:08pm on 14 Sep 2009, divadlo wrote:

    The last 30 years or so has seen us reach this ludicrous point where there is an ever present media pushed (an important ingredient in this) notion that every single 'social issue' can be solved by law, rules and regulation.... a nonsense in itself and a very dangerous reaction to foist upon a society. It creates unrealistic expectation in the public, it over burdens the social fabric with unwarranted fear that turns into paranoia (that is more dangerous that the molesters in the long term), creates a rampant mistrust of the innocent (males mostly), encourages politicians to overreact in an attempt to be 'seen' to be doing something and sets a long term socio-political agenda that will and is resulting in a society so over regulated it begins to look, feel and act like a fascist/police state.
    Such a complex mix of paranoia, fear, mistrust and unwarranted regulation creates its own unique and cancerous problems that often do little to actually help the initial target problem but spawn a whole range of new and more dangerous and insidious problems. Communities fragment, distrust, label and begin to implode..... which could be said to be what the UK has been and continues to be suffering from. With so much over-reactive legislation continually asserting the negatives in our communities people are I believe, already tearing themselves apart. This is like saying some car drivers kill people so lets mistrust all drivers and strangle any notion of freedom, flexibility, rational thinking, realism and common sense.
    This is one more step on the road to a police state; add this to the number of surveillance cameras, the increased power of police and quasi police, the ID card, Government data bases of all kinds and the decrease in an individual or groups right to protest and challenge political decisions and the picture begins to look an awful lot like the early days of Hitler and Stalin etc. The Obama youth groups the UK's proposed Eco Youth Groups etc all start to look like brown shirts, wake up people before it's too late, this is not just a media issue it's about the kind of state you are allowing your supposed 'representatives' to build. buiold under your nosees m

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  • 119. At 12:15pm on 14 Sep 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    115 john

    You hit the nail on the head.
    This is ill-thought-out, knee-jerk legislation at its worst. And it is the children who will suffer in the long run as all the joys of childhood are replaced by suspicion and fear.

    Incidentally does anyone know if Priests must have a check-up? Surely that would be a step too far ............

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  • 120. At 1:20pm on 14 Sep 2009, wanderingsnowleopard wrote:

    Wow. There seems to be a bit of negative feeling about this whole process. It's like people are getting easily wound up by the media's attack on the idea without considering whether it's actually a good plan.

    Before the September 11th attacks in the States, security at internal flights wasn't as tight as it is now. As the changes were being made, how many people jumped up and down screaming "How dare you accuse me of being a terrorist?" and how many people stopped flying because they were so insulted by the extra checks they had to undergo?

    And yet here, we have changes that are trying to protect vulnerable people, and everyone's saying what a stupid idea it is. I'm so disappointed in the well known authors who are saying they're no longer going to go into schools because they are insulted by the checks. And yet they also say they're passionate about seeing young children grow and develop through reading. If they really are passionate about it, surely the prospect of having to fill out a form shouldn't stop them.

    I, for one, am not going to throw in the towel when it comes to working with young people, just because someone asks me to fill in an extra form. What a ridiculous and selfish thing to do. Thankfully, the government is focused more on the children's safety than my convenience. Sure, there might be a couple of things to be ironed out before everyone goes ahead, but there's nothing wrong with that, it's a normal part of the process.

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  • 121. At 2:49pm on 14 Sep 2009, Secratariat wrote:

    @ Nucleargreen

    A good list but I think you may have overlooked something mate, every school child in the country is required by law to take part in at least five days of work experience when they're 15.

    Are all companies who offer work experience placements now going to have all of their staff CRB checked too ?

    If so I can see a lot of companies withdrawing their offers of places on the scheme as it could end up costing them a fortune. If not then we're going to have thousands of children doing work experience with people who have not been checked which makes a mockery of the whole system.

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  • 122. At 3:34pm on 14 Sep 2009, purplebluesprout wrote:

    120 WSL
    haven't you ever heard of the phrase 'seeing the bigger picture'?

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  • 123. At 4:08pm on 14 Sep 2009, Paul Brooks wrote:

    I can understand how it got here BUT really concerned.

    There are two separate things here
    CRB - based on a legal conviction. So it is clear and we should check people against the register otherwise why have it. Only checked every 3 years though so can be a lag between an offence and being stopped. Also why do you need to be checked for every different instance. If you are a teacher and also a coach at an athletics club and also do drama classes you need three different checks !!

    VBS - This is a separate register. Continually checked rather than everyv three years once you are on it BUT contains information that might not be convictions. Where does this come from? Other official sources it stays in the Blog but basically it is hear-say. This relates to Soham, 'There had been various concerns about Huntley' but whereas unconfirmed concerns can be right they can also be malicious to the person being checked.

    This might well lead to people not wanting to do this. I am the Chairman of an Athletics club and can see real issues with getting coaches and team managers. Also who needs to be checked? Hopefully the frequently, intensively and overnight line means I don't need to get anybody who might volunteer to marshall our ONE annual home cross country match checked or indeed the parent we drag out of the crowd to rake the sand-pit in the long jump. If we do then either I am cancelling home matches or saving up to pay the club's, and probably my personal, £5,000 fine.

    This is the problem. People will say if it protects just one child then it is worth doing but the problem is that not letting any child do anything will achieve that and that is the route we are going down. Except that if many abusers are within the family then not letting them leave the house might be a problem as this year's case in Austria showed.

    We are probably damaging slightly ALL children in a bid to prevent serious damage to a few.

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  • 124. At 4:22pm on 14 Sep 2009, SSnotbanned wrote:

    News: Thanks for the excercise on day 1.

    Business: A Timocracy does the Job Banana.Gary.

    Comment: This, as with many daft and simple ideas, plan ''if it saves at least one XXXXX, then it will be worth it'' doesn't represent the full picture.

    Problems occur if the new changes actually makes things,individually,sub-group,or of the whole worse.

    Forinstance,are certain classes of children worse off because of these changes.
    If so, should we discriminate between one child or the other ??

    Also, are all sub-groups fully determined and valued appropriately.

    The proposals appear to encourage unknown paedophiles to register with the Scheme because this will allow them access to those who they seek to corrupt.

    Various questions:

    Assessment: How many unknown paedophiles are there estimated to be in the country ? What danger do they represent to children ?

    Preventative: Is 'society' continuinally manufacturing 'new paedophiles' ?

    Status Quo: Is this a bigger problem than 'managing' the existing paedophiles known to current records ?

    This Scheme as it stands, may well save one child from harm, but at what cost ???????????????????

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  • 125. At 4:36pm on 14 Sep 2009, Nucleargreen wrote:

    @121 Secratariat

    Good point. I was only thinking of younger children (below 10).

    They will probably have to and I wouldn't be surprised if companies didn't take work experience placements. Atleast the companies who don't typically involve working with children.

    When you broaden your mind to what this can impact it brings in a whole spectrum of people besides carers, sports coaches etc.

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  • 126. At 5:22pm on 14 Sep 2009, silvery wrote:

    wanderingsnowleopard message 120, read all the posts.

    Post 36 explains the circumstances of this law coming in. And also the references of the criminal had not been checked properly, which would have set alarm bells ringing.

    secretariat message 121, a very good point about the work placements. This legislation just hasn't been thought through at all. Why are we not surprised.

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  • 127. At 6:44pm on 14 Sep 2009, Define_real wrote:

    It seems not that long ago, ordinary people ridiculed and mocked others who saw this Orwellian culture coming some years ago. Those ordinary people (Some of whom, it's reasonable to assume have posted here) are no longer mocking, no longer seeking to ridicule. This is refreshing. I've looked through the posts on this topic and almost overwhelmingly the argument against the proposed collection of adults' backgrounds helping children is based rightly in my opinion on division, of making non compliant adults, monsters. People who are obviously hiding something. Is it any wonder then, as more than one male poster has said, distressed children are left to defend themselves, a crying child left sobbing on a bus because the grief that would result from trying to comfort her would be catastrophic? Chipping children will come, soon enough. It will of course be dressed up as 'keeping tabs on YOUR offspring', but in reality it's about control, it's about herding and behaving in a certain way. Then it will be adults, again this time the story will be along the lines of perhaps 'a moneyless society' and you'll have all your financial details on a chip inserted in your arm or leg..As well as everything else, as it will of course be a transponder, meaning it can in itself be controlled, manipulated. Naturally, many will dismiss this all as fanciful nonsense, lifted from some si-fi novel. Well, actually no, it is in fact being proposed in the USA as a means to ensure patients are reminded when to take medication etc.
    This rubbish about not applying to ad hoc lifts to family and friends' kids but will apply if the youth club arranged it, is of course laughable! By this logic, a potential abuser won't attack a kid in his/her car when it's with the arrangment of the youth club and he/she has the certification? Yet, that self same person can go out the next day with the same kids only this time the youth club has no involvment? Oh yes I can see how that will work..But then, I'm not one of the highly paid lawyers or legislators who cooked up this horlicks.

    Scenario: Five years from now, all children will be chipped at birth, eventually phased to include up to 18 years old... Then adults. The Matrix was fiction, but boy it wasn't far off what will happen.

    Be well.

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  • 128. At 7:01pm on 14 Sep 2009, wanderingsnowleopard wrote:

    pbs, yes, being a highly educated person, I am familiar with the concept of 'seeing the bigger picture'. In fact, I even know at least one song about it :)
    What I'm saying is, if somebody says to me, 'would you rather have three safeguards to protect children, or four?', my reaction is likely to be 'four'. That's not about wrapping them in cotton wool, it's just about taking precautions. There also seems to be, in many of the comments made above, the assumption that because we'll all have to fill in one more form, children will somehow be terrified of everyone all of a sudden. Surely their response to this scheme depends largely on how we deal with it. If we don't run about like headless chickens decrying it, then they're unlikely to worry. I don't remember any children developing a sudden fear of grown-ups at the introduction of the CRB checks, so why on earth do we think they're going to panic now? Imagine for a moment that nobody made a big fuss about this new legislation. In a couple of years time, I'd apply for a new post or some volunteer work and the people 'employing' me would ask for my ID, a special pass-phrase/number and they'd get on with it. I would just let it all go through as normal. Having cleared the check I'd go through. If I don't clear the check (although it's likely that I'd know in advance!) I can appeal.

    Obviously, there would have to be safeguards in place. There are already issues in working with vulnerable (particularly young) people surrounding the making of false allegations. That doesn't mean the scheme shouldn't go ahead, any more than it means we should scrap all child safety laws for the benefit of those few against whom false allegations are made.

    I just feel everyone (well, a lot of vocal people, anyway) is getting more and more wound up about the whole situation, and I just don't see that it's such a huge deal.

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  • 129. At 9:30pm on 14 Sep 2009, silvery wrote:

    People can get black-listed on account of unproven allegations. Which have to remain secret. The person who is black-listed cannot be told.

    Careers and lives will be ruined. With, it seems, no appeal. If you don't know, you don't know, and no-one is allowed to tell you. I can see malicious allegations happening.

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  • 130. At 9:55pm on 14 Sep 2009, amezza wrote:

    [I just feel everyone (well, a lot of vocal people, anyway) is getting more and more wound up about the whole situation, and I just don't see that it's such a huge deal.]

    The reason people did not object so strongly about the CRB checks is that they were mainly for teachers and replaced the existing scheme of police checks, which I believe were done at your local police station.

    As I pointed out in a letter published today in the Telegraph, the figure of 11 million peopel requiring vetting is way off the mark. The reason for this is Section 59 of the Safeguarding Act 2006 which states that if you are receiving health care OF ANY DESCRIPTION you are a vulnerable person. It is no exaggeration to say that if you are seeing your doctor for a cold sore or a migraine, you are therefore a vulnerable person - at least according to The Act. Consequently, anyone who comes into regular contact with you and your migraine, will require vetting. Such examples would include your postman, your dentist, your neighbour, your mates down the pub, the bloke who runs the corner shop where you always buy your fags, your bus driver etc... In other words, I can;t actually think of a single person who would NOT require vetting (at a cost of £64).

    BTW, I'm not makign this up, it's based on my reading of the Act itself.

    I'm a teacher and have no issue with the CRB checks. And obviously care workers, doctors, nurses etc... should be checked. THe issue that people are mainly shouting about (once they've managed to swallow the £64 bill) is the PRESUMPTION of guilt. It is desparately unhealthy this tainting of adults - the web is full of examples like the 60 yr old woman who was asked to leave a swimming pool waiting area while a bunch of kids in trunks walked past. Why? How does this solve anything? How does endless applications to the ISA (yes at a cost of £64 which of course will double within a few years just like the CRB did) help? It won't prevent a single child form being molested, and we all know it.

    False allegations will be made - so a tenant has a few problems with his landlord - won;t it be tempting for that tenant to contact the ISA and make a few suggestive remarks about the landlord. Someone gets a parking ticket - they might do the same to the traffic warden. In fact, anyone who has an axe to grind about anyone, might be tempted to use the ISA.

    We are constantly told, you have nothing to fear. ON the contrary - we have nothign to hide but Everything to fear.

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  • 131. At 10:23pm on 14 Sep 2009, amezza wrote:

    ...In fact I believe that its is the government's intention that all adults would be vetted. This would bring everybody under full control of the state. Sounds like an exaggeration, I hear you cry. But is it? This government likes us all to be clients of the welfare state - the most obvious example of this is the ludicrous position whereby a multimillionaire is entitled to Child Benefit - nothing to do with him needing the money of course, but everything to do with becoming a grateful customer of the State.

    The same will apply to the ISA vetting. Once you receive your clearance, should you be so lucky, won't you feel o so grateful to the government.

    Rarely has such an issue provoked such outrage - including some surprising people like Rantzen and the awful NSPCC. To those who complain there is too much shouting going on - I say there should be more.

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  • 132. At 11:04pm on 14 Sep 2009, Define_real wrote:

    Amezza in # 130/131 you make very valid points. Particularly in reference to us all being customers of the state. It's been the case for years when it comes to benefits-probably to try and raise the percieved level from Mailesque 'scrounger'. The Inland Revenue bizarrely use their own surnames when introducing themselves, I asked one why 'For security reasons' I kid you not! Bit of a blow if your name is Mr Sillynameyes itis, isn't it?
    But I digress; It isn't about protecting children-Ian Huntley wouldn't have been caught using the same legislation that has cost £600 MILLION to formulate..ironic? It's about pen pushers justifying their index linked pensions, it's about generating suspicion of the single bloke down the road who in turn is suspicious about your next door neighbour, and so on.. divide and conquer. It's about making sure the population is so wound into paranoia, that they will do anything to be 'protected'. This is only the beginning.

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  • 133. At 00:01am on 15 Sep 2009, MallardMK wrote:

    Just a couple of further points to what I and so many others have said above and elsewhere.

    1. The cost - £200 million and a massive new Quango, at a time when (pace Lord Mandelson) cuts are inevitable. And when increased funding for youth programmes might actually have an impact on gun and knife crime and measurably save lives.

    2. As anyone who has read Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink" will probably agree, all these detailed discussions about the regulations and their impact are really neither here nor there. The reason people are upset is simply they just had to take one look at this to know instantly that it is WRONG. There is actually no need to analyse, explain or justify this thought. What is needed is action.

    The no. 10 petition is now live at

    A further petition can be found at

    There are at least 4 Facebook groups as well as other social media sites - links to a couple of these in earlier posts. Efforts are being made to coordinate information and action among these.

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  • 134. At 00:51am on 15 Sep 2009, tarquin wrote:

    128 WSL

    you make some reasonable points - of course there is nothing wrong with background checks to protect children, but the question as always with safety measures is 'where do you draw the line?'

    Should we be placing over 11 million (government's own estimate) people onto a database? - that's 25% of the adult population, to catch under 0.1% of the population (estimate of 45,000 people) and should it be covering things like volunteer sports coaches or mere visitors to schools - bear in mind the CRB checks already covered teachers, carers and most people working with children (such as scout leaders and people in other out-of-school activities) - yet somehow they have found a way to vet another five million people

    So yes I think this a bridge too far - I'm all for teachers, school janitors and carers being checked when employed, but when people like visiting children's book authors are being asked to prove they aren't a risk it's got beyond a joke - they are right to be insulted by this measure, it's excessive

    And as you can see it's already having an affect - the authors are boycotting, you say that people employed with children won't face a hassle - true they won't, in fact it's potentially better than the CRB check they already had to go through, but they aren't the issue here - they already faced the checks, and it's a reasonable ask of someone who makes a living in that area of work - the issue is that it now includes an extra five million people who have very limited contact with children (or 'vulnerable' people) and they will quite possibly be put off performing that very small involvement altogether, and so I have to ask - what price safety?

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  • 135. At 08:30am on 15 Sep 2009, shamblesbaby wrote:

    Monday: The chairman of the quango setting up this scheme on behalf of the Home Office did his best impersonation of somebody selling dodgy car insurance telling us all to “calm down, dear”.

    Tuesday; The Childrens’ Secretary admits that the scheme needs to be re-thought (what used to be called a balls-up, perhaps) but pointed out all the failings already highlighted by opposition parties as if they were good things.

    Nice to see that government spin, bumble and incompetence is not something that only happens at the Treasury and Downing St.

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  • 136. At 08:36am on 15 Sep 2009, shamblesbaby wrote:

    While so many are discussing the groups of people who will have to be registered, a few that may have been missed out:

    1 - Restaurant/Pub staff, whether in the local chippy, McD's or anywhere else, if they allow entry to children and they are unaccompanied or allowed leave from their parents table.

    2 - Amusement parks, whether they be the large theme parks around the country or the travelling units including circuses, children form a huge proportion of their audience and often unaccompanied.

    3 - Shop staff, whether they be large supermarket or local newsagent, if unaccompanied-child access is allowed they will come under the act.

    The 11 million sounds an understated amount to me and, let's not forget, that the biggest abuse risk to all children lies in their own home and family circle.

    This is all adding up to something bigger than a sledgehammer being used to crack a sunflower seed.

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  • 137. At 10:03am on 15 Sep 2009, Secratariat wrote:

    What is the point of all of the extra checks when known paedophiles and abusers aren't even locked up ?

    Gary Glitter moved into my area recently, he lives about five miles from my house and within a couple of minutes walking distance from three Primary schools.
    This guy is a known paedophile who has been convicted for his crimes yet the government are perfectly happy for him to live in a residential area surrounded by families with young children.

    Many of the local families complained about him moving into the area but the Police, Council & Government were either powerless to stop him or didn't care enough to do anything about it.

    Why should decent people be forced to have this dangerous person, or any other dangerous person living near to them ?

    The Government are perfectly happy to treat innocent people like potential abusers but they let known abusers walk the streets as free men, it's all a sham, nothing but smoke and mirrors to make people think they're doing something to protect them when in fact all they're doing is providing more government contracts for the likes of Capita, whose Directors will be rubbing their hands at the prospect of another government database and administrative centre for them to profit from.

    I doubt these regulations will do anything to protect children and, as we've seen above, will have countless unforeseen negative impacts to our society.

    Children will be the big losers in all of this and the only winners will be the likes of Capita.

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  • 138. At 10:17am on 15 Sep 2009, fillandfrowpist wrote:


    Quote: "What I'm saying is, if somebody says to me, 'would you rather have three safeguards to protect children, or four?', my reaction is likely to be 'four'."

    No, your question would be "what are the safeguards and how would they work?". It is a little like having a burglar alarm installed but leaving the front door open - no safeguard at all. Remember the crucial statistic - a child is many times more likely to be abused or harmed by someone they know than they are by someone they do not know.

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  • 139. At 10:56am on 15 Sep 2009, wanderingsnowleopard wrote:

    #138. Amused that you know my question ... ;)

    (It depends to some extent on whether your alarm is based on motion sensors, or entry/exit points, but that's a side issue)

    It's only a 'crucial' statistic if the gov is saying 'we're going to eradicate child abuse with this fantastic new system'. Which is isn't saying at all. The "many times more likely to be abused or harmed by someone they know" isn't relevant when the government isn't trying to address that issue, surely... Indeed, if the gov DID try to address that issue, everyone would be up in arms, because it would involve a fairly hefty 'big brother' approach, much more so than we have here.

    Surely the government is just trying to help reassure people that those to whom they trust they children in formal settings are indeed trustworthy. It's not even going to eradicate problems in said settings, but it might help. I wouldn't feel more paranoid just because the people who work with my kids have a form to fill out (and I'd ensure my child didn't either). Surely it's also about stopping people from doing things again and again. If someone who's committed some (relevant) crime is prevented from repeating it elsewhere in the future, then that's a good thing, isn't it?

    I'm beginning to think maybe I should apply for a job with the ISA, giving their side of the argument :) (I'm kidding - I'm much too busy looking after my little boy - wouldn't trust him with anyone else (kidding again (about the trust, not the boy!)))

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  • 140. At 11:18am on 15 Sep 2009, Define_real wrote:

    139#I wouldn't feel more paranoid just because the people who work with my kids have a form to fill out (and I'd ensure my child didn't either)

    Hmm, however, not everyone is as level headed as you, which explained why twenty year old women with six year old kids (Do the maths!)went on protest marches in between episodes of Big Brother, X factor and Jeremy Kyle in Plymouth a few years ago. Such was the level headed and obvious intelligence of some, that the home and car of a pediatrician was attacked! This proposed bill will not protect one child that isn't already being protected. It will however vilify many thousends of people wrongly accused, or have their details mis directed in the data base (which they have no access to or ability to address) Again, it's a pointless excercise if the same person is transporting/looking after children OR vulnerable adults but with different arrangements, i.e. Formal/informal.. What will happen is far fewer volunteers (mainly male), far more kids on street corners, far more paranoia generally, and more of our money going to un-accountable beauracrats.

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  • 141. At 11:36am on 15 Sep 2009, tarquin wrote:

    139 wsl:

    'Surely the government is just trying to help reassure people that those to whom they trust they children in formal settings are indeed trustworthy. It's not even going to eradicate problems in said settings, but it might help. I wouldn't feel more paranoid just because the people who work with my kids have a form to fill out'


    But again, what are these 'formal settings'? - the CRB checks were already very comprehensive - yet they have almost doubled the scope with this new scheme

    Either the amount of teachers and childcare workers has nearly doubled or the definition is very loose...and clearly too loose in many people's eyes

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  • 142. At 11:40am on 15 Sep 2009, fillandfrowpist wrote:


    Ouch! I am too presumptuous by half and I do apologise... :-#

    I think neither of us know what the Government are trying to achieve because, now they are having a rethink, they obviously do not know either. However the company that will have this contract (Capita in all probability) will know that every capture they can make is big money into their coffers and so 11m people seems to be a conservative estimate on size.

    We also have to reckon with how the Government plan to get all the data they need for their ID cards, which are so popular comparatively few people are likely to co-operate. Politicians move in sinister and ugly ways....

    but please do ignore my earlier rudeness.... and forgive me please!

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  • 143. At 12:08pm on 15 Sep 2009, wanderingsnowleopard wrote:

    No offence taken - I chuckled rather than fumed :)
    I guess part of the problem is that even the most perfect schemes (no, I'm not saying this one is perfect!) are carried out by wholly imperfect people, which is rather a fly in the ointment (or, as a colleague once said, a spanner in the ointment ... 'odd place to keep a spanner', I thought!)
    and #140 - I'm touched by your assessment of my level-headedness! Not everyone would agree with you, I'm sure.
    and #141 - fair point about the scope, and I guess some people are getting irate because it comes across as a desire to take the decision and common-sense away from the parents (where it should be) and hand everything to the 'state'. Suffice it to say, the majority of parents have the wherewithal to make such decisions. However, I think I'd still come back to the thought that if it's implemented in a sane, rather than a witch-hunt-esque fashion, it may prove to be useful in the long run. That's not to say it doesn't need some further thought, just that I don't think it should be jettisoned just because people are railing against it.
    As for the whole appeals process, the website informs me that: "If an individual considers that the ISA has made an error in fact or law than an appeal may be made to the Upper Tribunal." Now, I have no idea what that will mean in practice, but it suggests that there won't be a 'fait-a-complis' attitude.

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  • 144. At 12:23pm on 15 Sep 2009, Define_real wrote:

    #143 If an individual considers that the ISA has made an error in fact or law than an appeal may be made to the Upper Tribunal." Now, I have no idea what that will mean in practice, but it suggests that there won't be a 'fait-a-complis' attitude.

    If you'd just listened to the caller 'Chris' On JV's show, you'd see that the current system is deeply flawed. He was ejected from his job instantly with no recourse, because he play fought with his step daughter! He had no case to answer, yet he lost his job. Yeah, I can see how that is going to work.

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  • 145. At 12:50pm on 15 Sep 2009, Eviscera wrote:

    I don't see as this helps anyone. Just because you have not committed a crime before, does not mean you will not do so in the future. Similarly, just because you are an innocent and well intentioned person, does not mean that a child cannot make allegations against you.

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  • 146. At 12:58pm on 15 Sep 2009, Woolfbane wrote:

    When parents leave their child(ren) under the supervision of another party, it is a risk which the parent must be responsible for assessing. Some parents are probably (either out of desperation or thoughtlessness) a bit too optimistic about the quality of care and supervision that will be provided, but I do believe that the parent must ultimately be responsible for the risks to which a child is exposed, no matter what the outcome.

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  • 147. At 2:36pm on 15 Sep 2009, DisgustedOfMitcham2 wrote:

    If it saves just one child...

    ... then we'll have taken another gigantic and draconian step towards an absolute police state for the sake of just one child.

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  • 148. At 2:43pm on 15 Sep 2009, PesudoFantasticMrFox wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 149. At 3:45pm on 15 Sep 2009, PesudoFantasticMrFox wrote:

    It seems my comment was removed because I liked directly to a .pdf file. I find this a curious policy.

    Unable to provide a direct link, I urge those interesed in seeing how some of this stuff may be implemented to google for the following:

    For me the .pdf version is the the very first hit. Makes for interesting reading. My favourite part is section 5.6.1. This details how in situations where one has been accused of a crime but not been found guilty "beyond reasonable doubt", the ISA may re-examine it using the less stringent "on balance of probabilities" criteria, and bar you if they are satisfied the events concerned happened.

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  • 150. At 4:16pm on 15 Sep 2009, purplebluesprout wrote:

    128 WSL
    ouch! i never claimed that you weren't very well educated, or didn't have a wide knowledge of music.
    i think that mezza has covered how i would have replied to this post pretty much.
    thanx mezza

    143 quote 'However, I think I'd still come back to the thought that if it's implemented in a sane, rather than a witch-hunt-esque fashion, it may prove to be useful in the long run.'
    I have a feeling that because this scheme has been devised by THIS government and as usual it involves a faceless agency with no-one having any responsibility for the decisions they make, it will be totally ineffective in doing what it's supposed to do. it will have a minimal, or no effect on increasing the safetey of our children and vulnerable adults from those who wish to abuse them physically, mentally, and fiancialy.
    so watch it if anyone has any CCJ's you may be barred aswell
    i am quite in favour of going back to the police check system, and scrapping the CRB check. i bet it's cheaper, quicker and i would rather that sensitive information such as this was kept in one place, and with the police seems good enough to me. it must be better than spreading it around various gov agencies, as they are really good at loosing our private data.
    believe me this scheme will never be implemented in a sane way!

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  • 151. At 5:06pm on 15 Sep 2009, fallengingerdolly wrote:

    I am a grants assessor for a charity that makes funding availble to very small community and voluntary groups. I deal with groups on a regular basis who ask for quite large sums of money, to take children on camp, transport for sunday league teams etc. As an orgnaisation we ask for the basics: a constitution, a bank account & financial record, and as an absolute must for any group working with children under 18 - some form of child protection / safeguarding children policy.

    So many groups do not take this seriously. A minority of them flaunt their parent body's recommendations of implementating CRB checks and having a clear statement to follow in the case of suspected abuse as being an infringement on their himan rights. We are talking scouts, guides, the armed forces junior corps, football clubs etc - all groups with a serious obligation towards their members' well-being. So many times I have had to reject these groups for funding because they are so shambolically run that I wouldn't let them care for my hamster never mind my child.

    And yes - I have dealt with a serious case of a faith group that had a paedophile driving their minibus with children unsupervised, who them abused some of the children in his care. They didn't bother with CRB checks either. They ended up with funding suspended and in the hands of the Charity Commission. Just because someone does God doesn't mean they don't also like children.

    I have been spat at and abused verbally by members of groups who have been turned down, all because they won't accept that standards are actually there for a reason. We even provide funding to pay for these checks, and for awareness training for group management committee members and volunteers. many funders do, because it is seen as one of the basics in managing a group. But it appears that people would rather bleat about how hard it is for them rather than thinking through logically why we would ask this of them....

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  • 152. At 5:10pm on 15 Sep 2009, Define_real wrote:

    149# For me the .pdf version is the the very first hit. Makes for interesting reading. My favourite part is section 5.6.1. This details how in situations where one has been accused of a crime but not been found guilty "beyond reasonable doubt", the ISA may re-examine it using the less stringent "on balance of probabilities" criteria, and bar you if they are satisfied the events concerned happened.

    So they'll have anyone by the short hairs irrespective whether or not it's justified or not? I'm sure that seems reasonable if you lived under Hitler or Stalin. If this was written into the script of a tv program, people would put it under fiction and not documentary, which is what it is.

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  • 153. At 7:38pm on 15 Sep 2009, wanderingsnowleopard wrote:

    Sorry pbs - just being a bit facetious (a word I like in part because all the vowels are in alphabetical order - so tidy!) As for the music, it's a song from somewhere in the 80s, if I remember correctly, so not exactly bang up to date :)
    I like your thoughts on the current gov (and note they are fairly widely held!) Perhaps I'm just too much of an optimist.
    I'm aware of situations where people have acted in a 'risky' fashion and been out on their ear, others where people have acted in a 'risky' fashion and stayed for ages, and still others where people have crossed way over the line and been out before the close of play. I think inconsistency is pretty rife.

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  • 154. At 8:25pm on 15 Sep 2009, fillandfrowpist wrote:


    Quote: "For me the .pdf version is the the very first hit. Makes for interesting reading. My favourite part is section 5.6.1. This details how in situations where one has been accused of a crime but not been found guilty "beyond reasonable doubt", the ISA may re-examine it using the less stringent "on balance of probabilities" criteria, and bar you if they are satisfied the events concerned happened."

    Mmmm. "Balance of probabilities" means that a bureaucrat determines whether or not "you dunnit", quite a lot lower proof than a criminal court! Heads you lose, tails I win...

    I think there is a very negative side to all the state "intervention" in that people do not take responsibility and care in the same way they would were there absolutely no protection offered. This tends to blur the natural intuition that most parents, particularly mums, have about people they get to know better than just acquaintances. But there are lots of obscurities. I know one family where a lodger was having relations with a mum and her two daughters (all above age of consent) and they all hid it from each other... for far too long. The lodger was eventually found in a number of different towns before being reassembled. It's strange how attachments for whatever reason tend to hide or obscure glaring faults in people.

    But, overall, I tend to agree with #147 with his brief but profound:
    "If it saves just one child...

    ... then we'll have taken another gigantic and draconian step towards an absolute police state for the sake of just one child."

    Reasonable summary I guess.

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  • 155. At 1:14pm on 16 Sep 2009, keithunder wrote:

    Having read these post I thought it would be useful to share a link to the consenting adult action network (CAAN).

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  • 156. At 1:28pm on 16 Sep 2009, KennethM wrote:

    I don’t think we should be telling our children not to talk to strangers. I think it is rude.

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  • 157. At 2:21pm on 16 Sep 2009, fillandfrowpist wrote:


    Quote: "I'm aware of situations where people have acted in a 'risky' fashion and been out on their ear, others where people have acted in a 'risky' fashion and stayed for ages, and still others where people have crossed way over the line and been out before the close of play. I think inconsistency is pretty rife."

    I think there is an equally big problem with balancing the seriousness of offences. As someone who has acted as a negotiator in disciplinary cases I have faced numerous cases where "facts" are hugely exaggerated in order to add impact to a case. When it comes to questioning individuals I found that there had been discussions (collusion) about evidence and how situations would be described. I am aware that bosses put pressure on staff to testify in favour of managers in return for small "improvements" or "incentives".

    When collecting evidence for a potential tribunal hearing you have to be very careful to allow the trap to remain open long enough to get the person to take the bait or this evidence is lost. Unfortunately sometimes they do not take the bait and an innocent person gets the rap for something they patently didn't do.

    I believe that our "legislation" and "blame" based society is at least fifty percent of the problems we face. It is a pity "trust, respect and honesty" went out the windows when Thatcher came to power.

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  • 158. At 02:51am on 17 Sep 2009, Phil_bloggsIV wrote:

    The death of those two girls, not so long ago would have been prevented with better communication between the justice, police and the schools. The system failed catastrophically. And he didn't meet the girls at his work...they were brought to his home.

    The vetting system will depend in large part on that self same system. It will require 100% accuracy to work properly. Have there been any proposals to improve that communication?

    Currently, a prominent person has been found to employ someone that had right of residence but no right to work. The worker had a NHS number, had paid income tax and had come from a previous employer. Despite this 'evidence' of right-to-work, the employer still faces prosecution.

    She didn't have the 'right piece of paper' it seems. The point being that the more levels of bureaucracy we create, the greater the possibility of error AND, in my extensive experience in business management, greater opportunity to cheat the system.

    The proposed system is akin to canceling all buses and trains because some people don't buy tickets.

    As for putting chips in kids. Why would we want a system to tell us where our kids are being molested, when they are likely to be exactly where you think they are? And I hate to say this but a child molester with intent is not going to think twice about cutting the chip out. A frightened child is not so different from a child in pain.

    Having the same name as a car thief in the same town nearly cost me a contract once. Having exactly the same name as my father resulted in our medical records being swapped. Not life threatening but very inconvenient.

    We cant castrate child molesters though I'm starting to ask 'why not?'. We cant tattoo the word on their forehead, though its arguably more humane than castration. We have severe penalties prescribed for such people yet I have the impression that, in practice, they rarely go full term. No one,I hope, is stupid enough to believe a former offender that he/she has repented. Its as believable as the hangover stricken individual swearing never to drink again. Desire hides well in the afflicted. And 'never has been' does not mean 'never will'. All that piece of paper can hope to show is that 'Mr XXX has no record'. And record keeping here does not fill me with confidence.

    There are a million ways for our kids to get mutilated, maimed and killed. Kids represent a sizable proportion of the intake at A&E along with their worried parents who often face a grilling on the 'how' of the accident.

    Child-harmers are a danger and we reduce that danger by being with our kids as much as possible. Lose a child and you are likely to die earlier yourself because that's what the loss does to you. They are not replaceable yet a measure of freedom and independence is essential for their well being. Its a difficult balance to strike.

    I can check people out myself. I will spend time with them, in their homes if I have to. If their kids seem normal then the parents gain some points. If I get a hint that all is not well, my kids will never be left with that family. No piece of paper telling me what they 'are not' will convince me.

    If the government really want to be helpful then I want a list made available to all parents telling who the offenders ARE. They are the incurable in my view. The rest will be forever suspect, even my best friends.

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  • 159. At 10:15am on 17 Sep 2009, MallardMK wrote:

    There's a lot of "disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" here, but how about taking some action?

    Joining the Facebook group or the Ning group will give you access to some easily useable, downloadable resources that will enable you to take some positive action (e.g. writing to your MP) with minimum time and effort.

    Otherwise, don't complain when the reality of all this starts to bite.

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  • 160. At 1:18pm on 17 Sep 2009, DisgustedOfMitcham2 wrote:


    Does writing to your MP count as positive action? I've given up writing to mine. If I get a response at all, it's just a totally impersonal form letter trotting out government policy and saying how wonderful it is, with no attempt whatever at answering any specific points I have made.

    But still, it's probably worth doing if you have an MP who actually bothers to read constituents' letters.

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  • 161. At 3:41pm on 17 Sep 2009, nottoonear wrote:

    Thankfully I no longer live in UK. My male colleagues and I are still allowed and indeed expected to be humans when we teach. Evidently this does entail attending to children in distress.

    Children need a support system, not an unintelligible bureaucratic system which stigmatises every adult until "proved" innocent - even when they may not be. Children do not turn into healthy caring adults by being surrounded by adult automatons.

    It would be far wiser to spend the money on children. Employ more school nurses and listen to the professionals who help those children who have been abused. (instead of lawyers and legislators drawing up impractical and unrealistic registers)

    Take forward suggestions from those who have experienced child abuse, rather than from a set of "unvetted" over-paid, box-ticking, back-covering politicians.

    wanderingsl, this legislation will not save children; it only alienates even more adults, especially men, from acting like caring human beings to the detriment of all children.

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  • 162. At 9:24pm on 17 Sep 2009, zanathalor wrote:

    lets stop and think for a moment. So only people involved in teaching, training, care, supervision, advice, treatment or transport are required to have this cleareance.
    Hmmm Ian Huntley isnt any of those so he doesnt need clearance and as he doesnt have any record in ANY form (criminal, psychiatric or even a caution) he would have been cleared even if he did sign up for it.
    What bunch of ing morons came up with this criteria? Lets face we could of course expand this to include EVERYONE that has contact with children. Everyone on the high street stores, banks etc would need it for example but that would be seen as interfering too much in peoples lives and cost too much etc etc etc.
    When will the goverment realise that either do something or dont do it. Stop giving us half measures that dont do anything useful apart from create 'jobs for the boys'

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  • 163. At 9:27pm on 21 Sep 2009, Coraston wrote:

    Once again, in the blether about rights and unwarrented intrusion in private lives the true angle of this legislation is missed. When Labour came to power they provoked a storm of anti-paedophile feeling in the public. There was no good reason why. Attacks by paedophiles had not increase for 20 or so years.
    When those two poor girls were murdered by that creature in Soham Labour scraped the bottom of the barrel and produced a stealth tax. It's nothing more. Paedophiles are still attacking children at the same rate as before as the vast majority of them have never been caught so aren't on the register.
    But every teacher, caretaker, social worker, child minder, nursery nurse and every other worker who comes into contact with children has to pay this tax. The working with children tax.
    I had to pay £40 just to work in my client's offices. There are no children there and my client's work doen't even remotely impinge on kids. So why did I have to pay - just in case I might 'embarass' them in the future. All their suppliers who work on site have to pay too.
    Plus Mark Easten failed to mention that this new quango will employ 1400 civil servants in a marginal Labour seat ...
    This has nothing to do with the safety of children and everything to do with paying for Labour's vote-rigging obsession with the public sector.

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  • 164. At 5:18pm on 22 Sep 2009, nottoonear wrote:

    Is it too far-fetched, due to recent developments, to maybe ask to have another quango for everyone who wants to work. This quango will vet all workers to make sure they are not illegal immigrants.

    Perhaps Baroness Scotland could head this one...

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  • 165. At 9:53pm on 22 Sep 2009, Leviticus wrote:

    I think one of the most notable parts of this legislation has been missed by most of the contributers here:

    In order to VOLUNTEER for charitable work you will have to PAY for approval to do so.

    Am I missing something here?

    As for the wider implications of:

    * Not addressing the largest demographic group of abusers (close friends of family etc)
    * Labelling the innocent as 'unsafe', implying they are guilty
    * Labelling those who are adept at avoiding the system as 'safe' when they may not be
    * Furthering the paranoia that all single men are peadophiles

    ...well, once again politicians provide more evidence that they are all gutless and incompetant!

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  • 166. At 10:01am on 27 Sep 2009, Define_real wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 167. At 2:53pm on 30 Sep 2009, TheMahatma wrote:

    Here's something we used to read about the downsides of western culture:
    - There is an utter lack of trust
    - There is little or no bonding between families

    The long term solution is to nurture the concept of "TRUST". A word which is the lifeline of a sustainable society. Something that cannot be forced upon but has to be "nurtured" and grown. And govt. regulations like these tend to throw it completely out of the window.

    It seems to be the single most biggest cause of:
    - broken families/marriages
    - ineffective governments
    - shattered social structures
    - societies living in fear and anxiety
    - abused kids and adults.

    Akin to Human Rights, all regulation must consider and preserve "Social Trust". And this should apply to all Media publications as well. Reports which damage the concept of trust should not be freely published.

    Now thats something any government can count on if they really want to improve their country. Labour!! are you listening ?

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  • 168. At 1:51pm on 01 Oct 2009, Anna wrote:

    I'm convinced that this will steadily destroy healthy relationships between adults and children and society will fall apart. Got so depressed the other day after having been to a conference about how the Scheme will work and the effects, ended up crying in frustration when sharing my thoughts with our HR officer - my organisation will be affected quite heavily, we'll no longer be able to offer as many life-valuable activities for young people, like work experience, volunteering, nature education.
    I've signed already, will you? -

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  • 169. At 7:44pm on 06 Oct 2009, Define_real wrote:

    Slightly off the exact subject, but still relevent is the two police officers who had an OFSTED inspector warn them about not being registered child minders. Interestingly it isn't the tenticles of the World police only infecting the UK; last week a similar situation has happened to a woman in Michigan USA. Look it up.

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  • 170. At 08:22am on 11 Dec 2009, Robert trory wrote:

    I am one of the millions who go through the CRB check every three years and with different organisations, in order to teach in schools and to volunteer. Like the vast majority of those who are CRB checked I find the process absolutely no problem - I don't take it personally and I beleive that the safety and of children is paramount. I congratulate the Government on doing all it can to protect the vulnerable and condemn those that seek to undermine it - including the BBC News Editors. The system is not perfect and occasionally someone will slip through the net but that dosen't mean that there should be no net. All crtics are putting vulnerable lives at risk.

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