Parents warned over plans to cut criminal record (CRB) checks

Boy - posed by model The government says the system of checks on child workers has become too bureaucratic

Parents should teach their children about the risk of paedophiles, a minister has said as he defended plans to ease Criminal Records Bureau checks.

Lord Henley said the current system was "disproportionate" with "unnecessary red tape and discourages volunteering".

Ministers plan to drop the checks for adults if someone who has been cleared, such as a teacher, is supervising.

But Lord Bichard warned "dangerous adults" would "take advantage" of the proposed changes.

Lord Bichard, whose report after the murder of Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman by a school caretaker led to the present system being set up, warned the safety of children "must come before our desire to minimise regulation and bureaucracy".

Start Quote

What we are trying to do is create a system that will provide the necessary safeguards but does not make parents feel that their children are automatically safe”

End Quote Lord Henley Home Office minister

He said that "children assume that adults who are trusted to offer guidance or instruction can be trusted - not just in those limited circumstances such as the youth centre or playing field but wherever they are encountered".

"I fear that we will very quickly find that dangerous adults will realise that there are some settings and some ways in which it will be easier in future for them to gain access to vulnerable children," he told peers.

"The people we are talking about are manipulative and clever. They will take advantage of those opportunities."

The proposal to cut the need for Criminal Records Bureau checks for adults working under supervision with children is part of the red tape-cutting Protection of Freedoms Bill currently being pored over in the Lords.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced the proposed change a year ago, saying he wanted to get the checks "into proportion" and end the "atmosphere of distrust over adults who are simply trying to do their best by their own children".

Defending the proposed changes, Home Office minister Lord Henley said that "whatever the setting, we believe that parents have the primary responsibility for educating their child in how to react to an approach from an adult if it goes beyond that adult's normal role".

Lord Henley said "what we are trying to do is create a system that will provide the necessary safeguards but does not make parents feel that their children are automatically safe - parents must still have the duty of looking after their children by warning them of potential dangers".

'Not fair to parents'

He also conceded that schools and other organisations would be allowed to insist on CRB checks: "We want to emphasise the importance of good sense and judgement by the managers on the ground when they look at the issue."

A number of peers joined Lord Bichard in raising concerns - including the Archbishop of York - that dangerous adults who gain children's trust in the supervised setting might be able to take advantage of that trust when not supervised later.

One of those unhappy with the plans, Labour peer Lord Harris of Haringey, said he agreed a balance had to be struck and "no system will necessarily protect all children against abuse and against predators".

But, he said, "the difficulty is that the normal assumption of parents will be that every person whom their child comes into contact with in a club or other activity is safe".

Lord Bichard, who withdrew his amendment to the government's plans after assurances there would be further discussions about the issue, said all sides agreed on the need for less bureaucracy.

The issue was the need to avoid people who were a risk having "privileged access to our children".

"Parents expect schools, clubs and centres to be places where they can leave their children with some confidence... I do not think it is fair to expect parents to be able to monitor those kinds of situations."


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 416.

    @ HmmmInteresting 401
    "The news that the budget deficit is the smallest in 9 years is the biggest story and a sign that conservative policies are working!"

    Off topic and over-simplistic. If govt policy is working why has the Bank of England just had to pump in another £50 Billion of "Quantitive Easing"? This is money created from nothing & is effectively a blood transfusion for a dying patient

  • Comment number 415.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 414.

    The government should look to cut costs in other areas. Safety of children should be a paramount social conscern.
    All adults coming into contact with children in schools or clubs should be checked for previous crimes, it goes without saying neglecting this is dangerously irresponsible.
    Focus on eliminating tax dodging and tax havens for the obscenely rich before sacrificing child safety.

  • rate this

    Comment number 413.

    A CRB check is only a guide, valid on that day based on LA and Police intelligence. It does not protect a child or vulnerable adult or safeguard the integrity of a carer, teacher or helper. Implementing best practice policies does. There is no documented case of a serious paedophile offender being successfully "cured". Chemical or physical castration does not remove their urges.

  • Comment number 412.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 411.

    CRB checks have their purpose, however there are other lists that governors, heads and others involved with children can check when applications are made.CRB checks discover only those who have been caught and have a conviction. We know that over 75% of abusers are family members or friends therefore child abuse will never be rooted out.Passing a CRB check is no guarantee that the person is safe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 410.

    CRB checks or more crucially the hysteria must be doing damage to the kids and the wider society. It is state enforced phobia!

    How about we get the community spirit going again then children might actually be safer, and be wiser too.

    Youll never stop determined harmers, it is such a waste of money this CRB stuff

  • rate this

    Comment number 409.


    Maybe we should also remove railings from busy roads to make crossing easier & educate our children on the dangers!

    It's about getting a balanced view of the risk, and acting proportionately.

    i.e. I wouldn't add railings to every single road in order to try and save a child being harmed? But railings in the right place are undoubtedly good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 408.

    Maybe we should also remove railings from busy roads to make crossing easier & educate our children on the dangers! Or maybe the risks of just one child being injured outweigh the benefit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 407.

    Surprised at the comments on here.

    If my child is at a youth club or any establishment where the organiser has a duty of care, they should have carried out proper checks to ensure that they are employing or using people who are suitable to be around children.

    Every time we start to get these issues right, we change the rules and get them wrong again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 406.

    In this country these days if u are male you will always be either guilty or guilty and got away with it. the histeria has been perpetraited by the feminist elite by promoting woman good man bad forgetting the fact that there are good and bad in both sexes but lets not allow the truth to be printed

  • rate this

    Comment number 405.

    Yes, paedophiles will find ways around legislation but I'm surprised at the reaction to getting a CRB. I'm a Dad and Granddad and I work with vulnerable adults and children. If it means that children are a bit safer because I have to fill out a bit of paperwork now and again I'm happy to do it. People fill out lottery & football pools weekly why not a CRB

  • rate this

    Comment number 404.

    CRB checks to see if the person is known to be a risk to children. If we relax the system we all need to accept that the chances of detecting these individuals decreases.
    At some point in the future we will be debating the case of why a known child abuser had access to children. That can still happen under the current system, but will be more likely if rules are relaxed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 403.

    You know, what concerns me most is that "allegations" are apparently included in the CRBs remit. As a male volunteer with young kids I'm not hugely concerned about the possibility of a false allegation holding up in court, but that one malicious accusation without any evidence could stay on my CRB and prevent me from continuing to volunteer is a sobering idea indeed. Innocent until proven guilty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 402.

    We need a system but practical experience suggests that the current one is over burdensome. Our church had (I don't think anything has changed) to get the entire Sunday school staff rechecked purely because we used a different building for one week. Same people, same organisation and a complete waste of time and money.

  • Comment number 401.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 400.

    For those who help out in schools, CRB checks are a bane, for the teachers who organise trips, they have to get a new CRB check every time, even if that parent helper has had a CRB check and helped out regular.

    What is the point? Allow people to make their own judgements.

  • rate this

    Comment number 399.

    There are two entirely separate arguments here.

    1. Do we need a system for identifying potential danger? Yes of course!

    2. Do we need the current appallingly badly designed system which only seems to benefit companies administering the checks? No of course we don't!

    Just replace it with something better that doesn't undermine normal helpful volunteering & waste insane amounts of time & money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 398.

    I work with children - albeit in schools so I am never supervising them or in charge - and have been CRB checked repeatedly! This cannot be a good use of resources. So I agree that we should be more sensible about CRB checks, educate children and, in the words of Harry Potter's Professor Moody, exercise 'Constant Vigilance!'

  • Comment number 397.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


Page 5 of 25


More Politics stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.