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."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 436.

    430. Adam
    Also illegally. This is from the CofE website.

    'All people working in churches as leaders and helpers of children’s and youth work...... should be CRB checked'

    Its not for parents to decide if they want CRB checks or not. I don't think Christian fellowship protected those children abused by Irish priests over many years... and I'm sure they were trusted by parents.

  • rate this

    Comment number 435.

    This appears to be more about reducing cost than beaurocracy, though they often equate, and increasing the risk to children. Because with the best will, parents can only do so much to protect their children against the often manupalitive paediophiles out there. At least the CRB system flagged those with a history of child abuse. Wilful negligence towards the vunerable, Dave.

  • rate this

    Comment number 434.

    Should I look before I cross the road?
    No point. After I'd looked a vehicle could appear so fast it hit me.
    Clearly we should all just walk across the road without looking.

    Any problem with that thinking?

    Where did people get idea a safety check is pointless unless it guarantees 100% safety?

    A CRB check isn't a 100% guarantee. So what? Still worth doing for the times it does work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 433.

    Bring back capital punishment for paedophiles and abolish CRB checks and let the public hangings commence because they just cant help them selves can they.

  • rate this

    Comment number 432.

    423. modusman
    'All it does is tell the Authorities if someone has a previous conviction.
    Without a conviction they pass the test. Frightening eh?'

    Also not correct. The police can include any non-conviction information they think is relevant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 431.

    I think there's a balance to be made. If someone works directly with chidren as a teacher, teaching asst, paediatric nurse, nursery nurse - thorough CRB checks needed 1st, no question. If someone comes visits school on an ad-hoc voluntary basis to help with admin a few times a year or to help with a craft activity like building a set for a school play - do they need as detailed checks?

  • rate this

    Comment number 430.


    I'm going to have to dissagree with you. Non of the leaders of the youth group at my Chrurch have had CRB checks and the parents don't have a problem with that because they know their children are being cared for 'in the spirit of Christian fellowship'.

    Not everyone believes that everyone who comes into contact with their child is going to abuse them.

  • Comment number 429.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 428.

    The world is no more dangerous today than it was decades ago...despite the myth propogated by busy bodies..

    What we have is a pernicous culture of fear..fear and under Labour a rabid love of passing laws...

    Talking with children seems common served my generation communication and boundaries..

    This culture of fear is repressive and divisive..

  • rate this

    Comment number 427.

    When do us sterotyped adults who don't have children get to ask the real question?
    Why do people who have children want them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 426.

    If the authorities cannot protect children from thier own parents how do we expect them to efficiently protect them from others? CRB checks should stay as they are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 425.

    The paranoia about paedophiles in this country has become ridiculous. I innocently photographed by niece in a swimming pool and you'd think I'd murdered someone. Children should be taught how to be very careful using the internet, but terrifying either them or innocent adults is not necessary or acceptable. I believe our attitude towards paedophiles is wrong: it is not 'evil', it's an afliction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 424.

    Before long all babies will be born wearing a hi vis vest waving a placard saying ' do not touch if you are a human being'
    Whilst i agree there are certain instances that require people to be checked the paranoia in todays society is ridiculous and does nothing but instill in our children that everyone other than their parents are 'bad people'

  • rate this

    Comment number 423.

    sadly a lot of people seem to think that the CRB check is accurate and complete and makes everything safe.It does not.All it does is tell the Authorities if someone has a previous conviction. There is a frightening number of first time Paedo offenders appearing in court.

    Without a conviction they pass the test. Frightening eh?

  • rate this

    Comment number 422.

    I am also surprised at the comments on here. The current system may be bureaucratic but that is fine by me if its protecting my children. My son has High Functioning Autism and has zero social imagination. He just has no understanding of what a stranger is.

    Cutting CRBs and leaving me the impossible task of educating him on stranger danger is putting him at risk.

  • rate this

    Comment number 421.

    The point is that every parent has the first duty of care to their child. Equally people working with children should be vetted to ensure they understand their duty of care. However having been involved in my organisation where new applicants are CRB checked, the time it takes and the way they are made to feel like lepers makes it obvious why most people wont try and work with youth especially men

  • Comment number 420.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 419.

    The plan to remove criminal checks on adults who come into contact with children is an astoundingly dangerous and irresponsible move. Something similar to the ubber social liberalism and progressiveness of the european parliament fighting for the vote for convicted criminals.

    This news and slackening of the law will be music to the ears of pedophiles

  • Comment number 418.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 417.

    378 Vin
    I was convicted of a drug offence 30 years ago, I`m 50 now, i got 3 years imprisonment, never been in any trouble before or since yet this prevents me from helping at my daughters gym club, why?
    - Have you applied for a CRB, or are you just assuming? The Scouts ignore non-sex or violence convictions (unless applying to be Group Treasurer when fraud/theft would be taken into account too)


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