Vetting Workers

 UK vets all adults to work with kids



7th May
2008
  

Child Protection Gone Mad...


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Teaching becomes a particularly risky career choice

CRB logoA headmaster caught fishing with an out-of-date rod licence is waiting to hear if he will lose his job for having a criminal record.

Bob Yeomans described his predicament as 'child protection gone mad' after his conviction for forgetting to renew the £25 permit was referred to a council panel.

Yeomans, the head of St John's Church of England Primary in Walsall for 26 years, was caught by a water bailiff last summer while on a fishing trip on the Dove in Derbyshire. Horrified at his oversight, he immediately pleaded guilty. He later paid a £50 fine and £70 costs and considered it the end of the matter.

But almost a year later the offence was flagged up by the Criminal Records Bureau following a routine background check.

The chair of governors was notified there could be an issue with a CRB check and rang to tell me, Yeomans said. I said, 'Is it a member of staff?' and he said, 'No, it's you'.

I was shocked. In effect, he was being asked if I was fit to work with children for forgetting to renew my rod licence.


As required by procedure, the chairman referred the matter to a council panel that decides whether staff can continue teaching.

It's a bit of a joke in the school now, he said. But you'd have thought someone would have had some common sense at an earlier stage. It was just child protection gone mad. It was clear the offence was irrelevant.

Mick Brookes, of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: He forgot to renew his fishing licence... that is the level of trivia that is bedevilling us all - it's petty.

A spokesman for Education Walsall, part of the Serco group which runs education with the council, said the panel dealing with such cases looked at factors including the seriousness of the offence or allegation, the history of offences and time since the event in question. In the vast majority of cases, a positive trace will not mean that a person cannot be employed or continue to be employed.

 

27th June
2008
  

Vetting New Laws...


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Teaching careers at risk for possessing adult porn

Pirates DVD cover The Government recently announced an extension to the vetting of adults who work with children

See full article from the BBC :

More than one in four adults in England will have to register with child protection authorities next year, under an expanded safeguarding scheme.

Anyone working or volunteering with young people or vulnerable adults
will have to register.

The government says 11.3 million people will be on a database, with registration costing £64 per person.

All well and good, maybe...but further details reveal that one criterion for exclusion from working with both children and adults is:

conduct involving sexually explicit images depicting violence against human beings (including possession of such images), if it appears to IBB that the conduct is inappropriate

Note that this isn't limited to the "extreme porn" law definitions - so potentially even larger amount of material (including lots more BDSM) would be included.

Also note it says “Image” means an image produced by any means, whether of a real or imaginary subject., so this includes anime, cartoons, art etc.

Who'd be a teacher when ones career is always at risk from such potentially trivial reasons. And no doubt "better safe than sorry" will trump any "benefit of the doubt".

Update: Banned

28th June 2008

More than 20,000 unsuitable people were stopped from working with children and vulnerable adults last year as a direct result of checks by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB), latest figures show.

The figures for the year 2007 published today bring the total of unsuitable people prevented from working with vulnerable groups to more than 80,000 in the last four years.

 

28th June
2008
  

Update: Poisoned Relationships...


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11 million potential child abusers to be vetted in Britain

Civitas logo A quarter of the adult population faces vetting in an escalation of child protection policies, according to a report.

The launch of a new Government agency will see 11.3million people vetted for any criminal past before they are approved to have contact with children aged under 16.

But the increase in child protection measures is so great it is "poisoning" relationships between the generations, according to respected sociologist Professor Frank Furedi.
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In a report for think tank Civitas, he said the use of criminal records bureau checks to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults has created an atmosphere of suspicion.

As a result ordinary parents - many of whom are volunteers at sports and social clubs - now find themselves regarded "potential child abusers".

Professor Furedi said most adults now think twice before telling off children who were misbehaving, or helping children in distress for fear of the consequences.

He said that the need for the checks had transformed parents in the regulatory and public imagination into potential child abusers, barred from any contact with children until the database gives them the green light.

From next year the new Independent Safeguarding Authority will require any adult who come into contact with children or vulnerable adults either through their work or in voluntary groups to be vetted.

But Prof Furedi's report, Licensed to Hug, highlighted examples of when adult-child relationships were distorted by the need for CRB checks already being required by schools and other organisations.

In one example, a woman could not kiss her daughter goodbye on a school trip because she had not been vetted. In another, a mother was surprised to be told by another parent that she and her husband were "CRB checked" when their children played together. In a third example, a father was given "filthy looks" by a group of mothers when he took his child swimming on his own.

Prof Furedi details how one woman was made to feel like a "second class mother" because she was barred from a school disco because she did not have a CRB check.

Prof Furedi, a sociology professor from Kent University, said that adults are no longer trusted or expected to engage with children on their own initiative. When parents feel in need of official reassurance that other parents have passed the paedophile test before they even start on the pleasantries, something has gone badly wrong in our communities.

We should question whether there is anything healthy in a response where communities look at children's own fathers with suspicion, but would balk at helping a lost child find their way home.

Figures show that volunteering is on the decline with 13 per cent of men saying they would not volunteer because they were worried people would think they were child abusers, according to a survey last year. The report comes after Children's Commissioner, Sir Al Aynsley Green, said 50,000 girls were waiting to join the Guides because of a shortage of adult volunteers, partly caused by the red tape of the CRB process.

 

7th July
2008
  

Update: In a Sorry State...

700 innocent peopled wrongly deemed unsafe to work with kids

CRB logo Hundreds of innocent people have been wrongly branded as criminals by the Government agency set up to vet people working with children, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Thousands of people are being forced to have multiple CRB checks for different jobs because the checks are currently not transferable

People applying to take up jobs as teachers, nurses, childminders and even those volunteering to work with youth groups are likely to have been among those falsely accused of wrongdoing by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).

Those wrongly accused by the CRB face having their careers blighted or being stigmatised by their communities. They also face having to endure an appeals process to clear their names.
Article continues

The CRB, an agency of the Home Office, was set up to vet those working with children or vulnerable people. It carries out checks on criminal convictions, cautions and reprimands, while an enhanced check also examines any other information held by local police forces.

However, figures seen by The Daily Telegraph disclose that in the year to February 2008, 680 people were issued with incorrect information on their background checks by the CRB.

The disclosure is likely to deter many from applying for positions which require a check.

The Daily Telegraph has further learnt that the CRB agency is plagued by delays and mistakes which is jeopardising its efficiency. It is the latest Government agency to face questions over its handling of sensitive personal data.

Last night, the Conservatives said that blocking innocent people from working with children was "completely unacceptable" and that the CRB needed an urgent overhaul. It has also emerged that:

David Ruffley, a shadow Home Office minister, said: Nearly 700 mistakes that could ruin people's lives is 700 too many. There is an emerging crisis of public confidence in the handling of this public information.

The Home Office admitted that mistakenly branding innocent people as criminals was "regrettable".

A Criminal Records Bureau spokesman said: The Criminal Records Bureau's first priority is to help protect children and vulnerable adults, and we will always err on the side of caution to help ensure the safety of these groups.

 

15th July
2008
  

Update: CRB Vetting: UK Apartheid 2008...

Mother stopped from travelling with son in taxi to school

CRB Vetted Only sign A mother has been barred from travelling in the taxi provided by the council to take her own son, Alex, the five miles to school.

Her offence? Not to have had a Criminal Records Bureau check.

Mrs Jones has fallen foul of the council's policy which considers anyone travelling with the teenager to be working on its behalf and, therefore, obliged to have CRB clearance.

Now Alex, who has cerebral palsy, must travel alone until his mother passes the police check.

The Merthyr Tydfil Council Pedantry Officer said: The CRB checking is a requirement of our transport provisions in relation to adults travelling on home-to-school transport in the capacity of an escort.

This is a standard requirement and has been for several years. Any adult acting as an escort will, in the public gaze, be viewed as acting with the full acquiescence of the council and hence with its implied authority.

For the protection of the council and all vulnerable persons in its care it's essential all those endowed with an authority, implicit or explicit, should meet the security requirements within the transport contract provisions.


A recent study has warned that the rapid spread of child protection checks and health and safety rules has 'poisoned' relations between adults and children and left youngsters at greater risk. It said CRB checks and the rise in other regulation have fuelled an atmosphere of suspicion and left adults afraid to intervene or take responsibility.

 

26th July
2008
  

Offsite: Better Safe Than Sorry...

Criminal record checks could hit over 14 million people

CRB Vetted Only sign If we had suggested, ten years ago, that one day soon, the government would draw up a list of prescribed occupations: that they would build a database of millions of people who would need to register for those occupations; and that a committee of Public Safety would be set up with power of absolute veto over every individual on the database; it is just possible that you would have decided that even El Reg had taken leave of its oh-so-cynical senses.

But lo! All of the above is soon to come to pass - and there is a good chance that it will affect a far larger proportion of the population than you might imagine, far more people than the 11.3 million the Government claim it will affect. (14.3 million and rising is our prediction).

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (SVGA), introduced in the Lords in February 2006 and passed into law in November of that year. Although it is now 'the law', many of its provisions are only slowly being put in place...

...Read full article

 

20th August
2008
  

Offsite: Gossip Not Vetted...

Malicious gossip could cost you your job

CRB logo A recent landmark ruling by the High Court takes the UK one step closer to becoming an “informant society” along the lines of the former East Germany or Soviet Union.

The Register previously reported on the case of deputy head, John Pinnington, who was fired from his job when an enhanced criminal record background (CRB) check turned up allegations of abuse made against him. He took his case to judicial review, arguing that the allegations were seriously flawed, were unsubstantiated, and that the police should only include them in a CRB check where there were some grounds to believe they might be true.

This view was rejected, as Lord Justice Richards ruled that there was nothing unlawful about the actions of the Police force in passing on allegations. And future employers "should be aware" of the accusations, however weak and unreliable they are.

See article from theregister.co.uk

 

11th September
2008
  

Comment: Nosey Parkies...

Adults without children discouraged from public parks

CRB vetted only Council staff have been ordered to stop and quiz any adults found walking in Telford Town Park without a child.

Anyone who wants to go to the park but is not accompanied by at least one youngster will have to explain why they are there.

Telford campaigners battling to retain full public access to the park today branded the policy draconian and authoritarian madness but the council defended the policy, claiming it had a responsibility to protect the vulnerable.

The policy came to light after two environmental campaigners dressed as penguins were thrown out of the park last month when caught handing out leaflets on climate change.

Telford & Wrekin Council said Rachel Whittaker and Neil Donaldson of the Wrekin Stop War pressure group were ejected because they had not undergone Criminal Records Bureau checks or risk assessments before entering the park.

David Ottley, Telford & Wrekin's sports and oppression manager, said in a letter seen by the Shropshire Star: Our Town Park staff approach adults that are not associated with any children in the Town Park and request the reason for them being there. In particular, this applies to those areas where children or more vulnerable groups gather, such as play facilities and the entrances to play areas. This is a child safety precautionary measure which members of staff will continue to undertake as and when necessary.

Former childcare social worker John Evans said: It is authoritarian madness which can only be based on ignorance. It appears that the council wants to use child protection as a cover for anything they don't like taking place in the park, like the campaign against global warming by those two people who were handing out leaflets. It is absurd, it is insulting and what's more it is dangerous as it panics people about the dangers their children face.

Councillor Denis Allen, cabinet member for community services, said: Our staff are asked to approach adults without children in areas where children gather such as play areas, using their own judgement and discretion.

Comment: Telford Bulldozer through their Park Policy

11th September 2008, thanks to David

According to someone who lives in the area:

This is a little deeper than you know. The Telford Town Park was recently almost built over under first a labour administration and under the first few months of this Conservative administration. A gentlemen  went out into the park to leaflet people to let them know what was going on. He led a campaign that was politically embarrassing to the council and its authorities and they confiscated the leaflets and stopped him handing them out.

He demanded an apology and an explanation.

When the council were pressed for a reason why they took this action, after many, many attempts to get a reply, the officers came up with this "policy" as the reason. It's junk made up after the fact to justify what was in effect an attempt to silence somebody who didn't agree with their development plans.

Now the same guy raised and won a parish referendum. It made enough fuss and garnered enough support, with others, to cause the council to rethink the policy. Though the Park is not certain to be saved in its entirety the position is now much more secure.

When the two environmental protesters came into the Park dressed as Penguins, the council were stuck with their recently made up policy and enforced it. So earning themselves a rebuke from the Home Office as well.

 

12th September
2008
  

Update: Smokey Databases...

Councils create additional vetting databases of adults working with children

This'll hurt me more than
it hurts you Jenkins

That's right Mr Chips!
...Especially when I tell
'em you're a paedo!

All adults who work or volunteer with children must have abuse allegations made against them investigated by council officers and kept on file until they retire, even if they are totally groundless.

Local authorities around the country are setting up databases to hold records of accusations made about anyone from teachers and doctors to Scout leaders and private tutors.

They are employing staff just to look into the claims - which can be made anonymously - who are required to contact police, social services or the adult's employer and then keep track of the case.

Details of the allegation will be kept on the accused's personnel file until they retire so they can be seen by potential employers, and in a reversal of the basic tenet of English law they will only be deemed innocent if they can prove it.

It comes on top of the new vetting system being implemented for everyone who works with under-16s, the Independent Safeguarding Authority, which will lead to 11.3 million adults having their backgrounds checked.

Professor Frank Furedi, a sociologist at the University of Kent, said: Those who are accused may become the lifetime victims of these allegations. It then creates an incentive to make those sorts of accusations by people who know it can affect someone's career. This will play into the hands of those who believe there is no smoke without fire.

Following the Bichard inquiry into the murders - which called for the creation of the new nationwide vetting body - the Government published guidance which told local authorities to do more to investigate allegations of harm of children. Since then they have been recruiting Local Authority Designated Officers whose job it is to record and monitor allegations of abuse.

They must investigate any claim that an adult who works with children - whether self-employed, business staff, volunteers or public sector employees - may have harmed a child or committed a crime against them.

The LADOs have to tell the employee's manager about the allegation, as well as the complainant's parents, and decide if police or social services should get involved.

They track the claim to ensure it is resolved, and record whether it has led to disciplinary action, dismissal or a criminal prosecution.

Councils are told to keep a "comprehensive" summary of the allegations, which should be given to the accused as well as kept in a person's confidential personnel file... at least until the person reaches normal retirement age.

Definitions make it difficult for an employee to remove all suspicion. The guidance states that unsubstantiated does not imply guilt or innocence , just a lack of evidence, while for a claim to be classified unfounded or malicious the council must have evidence to disprove the allegation.

 

15th November
2008
  

Update: Vetters Need Vetting...

Criminal Records Bureau understates inaccurate vetting reports

CRB More than 12,200 innocent people have been branded criminals by bungling police and Government officials, it has been revealed.

The incorrect records showing them to be paedophiles, violent thugs or other convicts were disclosed to schools, hospitals, nurseries and voluntary groups by the Criminal Records Bureau. The extent of the misreporting is four times worse than officials had suggested.

Those wrongly accused by the CRB face having their careers blighted. They also have to go through an appeals process to clear their names. By the time that has finished, they may have been stigmatised and their chance of obtaining a job or training post dashed - disclosures are sent to the potential employee and the applicant on the same day.

The CRB's annual report indicates that only 680 inaccurate disclosures were made last year. But figures seen by the Daily Mail reveal there were 2,785 last year. Since 2003-2004, more than 12,200 have been wrongly stigmatised as criminals. They contested their cases, and were proved to be right.

Figures obtained by Tory MP Mike Penning show that, in some years, virtually every contested disclosure was found to be inaccurate. In 2005-2006, 2,669 disputes were upheld, out of 2,675 that were contested.

The CRB had been effectively covering up the scale of the problem by only making public those mistakes for which its staff were personally responsible. It had not been releasing details of disclosures containing inaccuracies supplied to the CRB by other public bodies - most notably the police - then subsequently disclosed in the agency's name. Mistakes have included people having convictions wrongly attributed to their name because of a mistake by staff entering information into the Police National Computer.

Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said: The increase in the number of incorrect disclosures is disturbing. These are mistakes that risk ruining people's lives.

Phil Booth, of the NO2ID privacy campaign, said: One mistake in the system and your whole life can go down the pan. You are officially tagged a criminal when you have done nothing wrong.

 

5th February
2009
  

Update: Vulnerable Britain...

Children's chat room moderators will required vetting

CRB Vetted onlyOrganisations with interactive websites likely to be used mainly by children must ensure that staff moderating the sites are not barred from working with children from October.

It will be a criminal offence for an organisation to knowingly employ a barred person for a regulated role, such as moderating children's sites.

The Government is changing the way that it controls who has access to children and vulnerable adults and new laws take effect on 12th October. Those make the moderation of online services such as bulletin boards a regulated activity.

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act was introduced in 2006 and has been modified by a commencement order which expands it to include some online services as regulated activities, meaning that they cannot be performed by anyone on the list of banned people. The new law includes as a regulated activity "moderating a public interactive communication service which is likely to be used wholly or mainly by children".

The law will be phased in and from 12th October this year will only apply to people filling new jobs in regulated areas. It will extend to all 11 million roles connected with children and vulnerable adults over the following five years on a phased basis, but the Government has not yet published the phasing-in programme.

 

13th February
2009
  

Offsite: Even Ann Widdecombe can see the Injustice...

Tainted by a crime you did not commit

CRB Vetted onlyThere was a time, when British justice was the envy of the world, when innocent until proved guilty meant just that.

If the police could not find enough evidence to bring a case, the name of the suspect might lie on file but that had no impact whatever on his ability to function as a normal citizen.

If someone came to trial and was found not guilty he left court without a stain on his character.

That is no longer the case and especially where sexual offences are concerned.

...read full article

 

5th August
2009
  

Update: Vetting the Vetters...

CRB who vet people working with children got it wrong in 1570 cases

CRB More than 1,500 people have been wrongly branded as criminals or mistakenly given a clean record by the government agency set up to vet those working with children.

The number of errors by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) has more than doubled in the past 12 months, despite intense pressure for it to improve its performance.

Many of the victims of mistakes would have been intending to take up jobs as teachers, nurses and childminders, or become youth volunteers.

Hundreds of innocent people have been accused of wrongdoing by the CRB. They are likely to have faced career problems or stigma from their communities as a result. They will also have had to go through an appeals process to clear their names.

The worsening figures are an embarrassment for the Home Office, which faced criticism after the number of errors by the bureau was first highlighted by The Daily Telegraph last year.

The latest figures show that 1,570 people being checked by the CRB were wrongly given criminal records, mistakenly given a clean record or accused of more serious offences than they had actually committed in the year to March 31.

This compares with 680 people in the previous 12 months. The disclosure is likely to deter innocent people from applying for positions that require scrutiny, for fear of being labelled a criminal.

A copy of the CRB's annual report, which will be formally published next month, shows that 3.9 million certificates were processed by the agency: an increase of 500,000 on 2007-08 and the highest figure since the agency's creation.

 

13th September
2009
  

Update: Vetting even the Nanny of the Nanny State...

British hostility to vetting required for adults to interact with kids

CRB Vetted only Ministers are under intense pressure to scale back plans for a big brother child protection database which will force millions of parents to undergo paedophile and criminal checks.

In a major blow for the Government, Britain's largest children's charity, the NSPCC, criticised the regulations for parent helpers which it said threatened perfectly safe and normal activities and risked alienating the public.

Esther Rantzen, the founder of the Childline charity; paediatricians; teachers; children's authors; politicians and members of the public also joined the growing coalition opposing the Vetting and Barring Scheme, which could lead to one in four adults being screened.

Barry Sheerman, Labour chairman of the Commons' children and families select committee condemned the way the policy was being implemented and demanded that Children's Secretary Ed Balls get a grip on this.

Next month parents in England and Wales who take part in any formal agreement to look after children – even if it is as little as once a month – will be told they have to register with the new Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) – at a cost of £64. From next summer, parents who have failed to register with the ISA could face prosecution.

Critics claim parents will be wrongly labelled as criminals. Others fear that those who currently give up their time to help out in schools and clubs could give up rather than go through the hassle of registering.

Wes Cuell, director of services for children and young people for the NSPCC, said: The warning signs are now out there that this scheme will stop people doing things that are perfectly safe and normal, things that they shouldn't be prevented from doing.

When you get this degree of public outcry there is generally a good reason for it. I think we are getting a bit too close to crossing the line about what is acceptable in the court of public opinion. We don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

 

16th September
2009
  

Update: Speaking Balls...

Balls talks in clichés about the right balance in a big brother state
Ed Balls

  You want rights?

Ed Balls, the Children's Secretary, has ordered a review of the Government's scheme to vet around 11 million adults who work with children or vulnerable adults.

Balls said he wanted to look again at the scope of the Vetting and Barring scheme to make sure the right balance has been struck on how many people are covered.

There was outrage last week when it emerged parents who regularly give lifts to other children on behalf of clubs like the Cub Scouts would be required to undergo criminal records and other checks.

The supposed review will be carried out by ISA chairman Sir Roger Singleton and will report by the beginning of December, Balls said.

In a letter to Barry Sheerman MP, the chairman of the Commons Children, Schools and Families Select Committee, Balls defended the scheme, and claimed there was strong support for it among children's charities and in the voluntary sector.

He claimed that  asking people to register for vetting was categorically not a presumption of guilt, but a sensible and proportionate contribution to keeping children safe .

But he acknowledged concerns about how low the bar for contact with children was set before people were required to register.

Chris Grayling, shadow home secretary, said the announcement was "not good enough" and called for a review of the whole issue. He said: I'm afraid this is just not good enough. The reality is that the Government's words on this are so vague and ill-defined that no one will know where the dividing line falls. They'll look at the level of fines and register everyone to be on the safe side. The Government has to look at this whole issue again.

 

29th October
2009
  

Update: Are Council Administrators Vetted to Ensure that they're Arseholes?...

British parents banned from playing with their own kids in the park

Vetted Only Parents are being banned from playing with their children in council recreation areas because they have not been vetted by police.

Mothers and fathers are being forced to watch their children from outside perimeter fences because of fears they could be paedophiles.

Watford Council was branded a disgrace after excluding parents from two fenced-off adventure playgrounds unless they first undergo criminal record checks. The rules were imposed at Harwoods and Harebreaks adventure recreation grounds from this week.

Children as young as five will instead be supervised by council play rangers who have been cleared by the Criminal Records Bureau.

Councillors insist they are merely following Government regulations and cannot allow adults to walk around playgrounds unchecked .

But furious parents attacked the move and threatened to boycott the playgrounds.

Concerns were raised last night that other councils around the country are adopting similar policies amid confusion over Government rules and increasing hysteria over child protection.

Mayor Dorothy Thornhill argued the council was merely enforcing government policy at the play areas. Sadly, in today's climate, you can't have adults walking around unchecked in a children's playground and the adventure playground is not a meeting place for adults, she said. But the Tories claimed the row showed the Government's heavy- handed approach to safeguarding was completely out of control .

Offsite: Paranoia in the playground

See article from guardian.co.uk by Henry Porter

Henry Porter The mayor says that this enforces government policy. Actually that's not true because no government policy has yet determined that parents may not supervise their own children in a playground.

It seems possible that the mayor and her appalling council may be in breach of article 8 of the Human Rights Act - the right to family life.

A mother of three named Rebekah Makinson was quoted by reporter Neil Skinner as saying: Banning parents from an open access playground, I feel, is a breach of our personal freedom.

She is right. This is a fundamental breach of rights, but almost as serious is the offence to common sense. The council pretends that it is forced into this position to protect children under the new vetting and barring scheme but as parents point out, the number of kids using the play areas and the range of ages means that some parents want to keep on eye on the children. Makinson said: We have used Harwoods since I was a child and my mother stayed with me. It has always had a fantastic community atmosphere. Even with the excellent staff employed it is ridiculous to assume that three staff members can safeguard the high volume of children that currently use the playground.

...Read the full article

 

1st November
2009
  

Update: Vetting the Vetting...

Supreme Court finds that child protection vetting disclosures go too far

Uk Supreme Court Criminal record checks have gone too far and must be tilted back towards those wanting to work with children, the new Supreme Court has ruled.

In a victory for campaigners fighting the rise of the Big Brother state, the Justices ordered an overhaul of enhanced criminal records bureau checks against anybody seeking a job with a vulnerable adult or child.

In particular, the presumption in favour of disclosing soft intelligence against an applicant came under attack. Each year, around 20,000 people have details of this type of information disclosed to potential employers, in many cases scuppering their hopes of gaining a job.

But Lord Neuberger said soft intelligence may constitute nothing more than allegations of matters which are disputed by the applicant, or even mere suspicion or hints of matters which are disputed by the applicant . In future, where there are doubts about the information, Chief Constables should allow the individual affected to make representations before the information is released to employers, the court ruled. Police must also show much greater consideration for the private lives of job applicants.

Lord Neuberger said: The widespread concern about the compulsory registration rules for all those having regular contact with children demonstrates that there is a real risk that, unless child protection procedures are proportionate and contain adequate safeguards, they will not merely fall foul of the Convention, but they will redound to the disadvantage of the very group they are designed to shield, and will undermine public confidence in the laudable exercise of protecting the vulnerable.

Lord Hope said that, in many cases, disclosing details about an applicants private life goes further than is reasonably necessary for the legitimate object of protecting children and adults . The same information will be released to a succession of employers, in what Lord Hope described as a rigid, mechanistic system that pays too little attention to the effects of disclosure on the applicant.

Lord Hope said past rulings had tilted the balance of the system against the applicant's right to privacy. He added: It should no longer be assumed that the presumption is for disclosure unless there is a good reason for not doing so .

 

7th November
2009
  

Offsite: Sexually Correct...

Her Majesty's Pleasure: How England 'Safeguards' Sexuality
  dejected  

 What is it dear?

They refused my vetting.
They said I voted Labour so
showed masochist tendencies

If your sexuality does not fit, don't go looking for work in the United Kingdom. That is the message from across the Atlantic, as chilling new social controls, instituted this month, threaten to bar from public employment anyone whose sexual interests place them outside a very narrow normal consensus.

The consequences go far wider than the strict letter of the law. Just as censorship generates a chilling effect on speech, so placing the question of individual fitness to work in certain jobs in the criminal arena is creating a culture in which private conduct becomes the touchstone by which public acceptability is judged.

...Read full article

 

8th December
2009
  

Comment: Visitors Not Welcome...

The pernicious rise of the CRB Stasi

Big Brother Watch logo The Daily Mail are reporting that Manor Community College in Cambridge is to ban any visitor who has not been checked by the Criminal Records Bureau.

The Head of the Secondary School claims the decision is necessary to prevent strangers walking around the premises. But also admits that volunteers, visitors and contractors will be hit with the ban.

So, unless Manor Community College is unique in that there are a slew of strangers wanting to check out Year 5's latest art project, what this measure will actually achieve is reducing the number of volunteers able to donate their time and energy to help out stressed teachers at sports days or similar events.

Not content with poisoning the way children view adults, the government is effectively making the fear of being left alone with young children the first step into adulthood for 16 year-olds.

The CRB is the rotten core at the heart of the national obsession with paedophilia. It seriously hinders volunteerism, has frightened many adults into not spending time with the young children of friends and family and is on the verge of making scouts and sports clubs a thing of the past.

The CRB is fast becoming a symbol of the so-called broken society and needs urgent reform.

 

23rd February
2010
  

Update: Loners to be Banned from Working with Kids...

'Better safe than sorry' guidelines at the vetting agency

Independent Safeguarding Authority logoPeople could be banned from working with children because of their attitudes or lifestyles.

Workers judged to be loners or to have a chaotic home life could be barred from working with vulnerable people, even though there is no evidence that they pose a risk, according to guidelines from the Government's new vetting agency.

Decisions about staff will be taken by officials who have never met them, based on details passed on by their employers.

Experts claimed that the Big Brother approach meant innocent people could have their careers wrecked on the basis of cruel rumours or ill-informed moral judgements.

The row is the latest controversy to hit the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), which was set up to vet millions of people working with vulnerable people.

Guidance seen by The Sunday Telegraph, which has been given to more than 100 case workers at the ISA reveals that those referred could be permanently blocked from work if aspects of their home life or attitudes are judged to be unsatisfactory.

It says case workers should be minded to bar cases referred to them if they feel definite concerns about at least two aspects of their life, which are specified in the document.

It means, for example, that if a teaching assistant was believed to be unable to sustain emotionally intimate relationships and also had a chaotic, unstable lifestyle they could be barred from ever working with children. If a nurse was judged to suffer from severe emotional loneliness and believed to have poor coping skills their career could also be ended. ISA's case workers are expected to establish the person's relationship history and emotional state based on the file passed on by their employer.

Psychologists, professional regulators and health and teaching unions last night expressed horror over the guidance. Harry Cayton, chief executive of the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, which oversees Britain's nine health regulators, said: My concern is that judgements are being made not on the basis of facts but on opinion and third party perceptions.

Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, said: This Government is creating a society where everyone is treated as guilty unless they are proved to be innocent. These changes contravene any principles of natural justice and will destroy the lives of decent innocent people. Gordon Brown is creating Government by thought police .

Adrian McAllister chief executive of ISA said no one would be barred purely on the basis of their lifestyle or attitude, given that all referrals had to identify either harm done, or a future risk of harm . He said: One of the understandable concerns we have heard from people is that they could be barred for private interests like pornography, or liking a drink. That isn't the case. We only look at these risk factors if relevant conduct [actual harm] or a risk of harm has been identified.

The organisation was unable to explain the reasoning behind its instruction to staff that definite concerns in two areas should be sufficient to be minded to bar staff. It would only say that the protocol follows advice from a forensic psychologist.

 

15th April
2010
  

Update: False Accusations...

2,522 cases where employment vetting has wrongly labelled people as criminals

CRBThe Criminal Records Bureau has paid out compensation of £290,124 to people wrongly labelled criminals during background checks by the agency.

The CRB issued 3,855,881 certificates in 2008/2009. In the same year there were 2,522 disputes handled, and upheld.

These claims were brought by the registered body or by the applicant because they believed the information either related to someone else or was in some other way incorrect.

Hat tip to The Sun for making the Freedom of Information request, which also found there have been 15,000 other bungles in the last six years. Most of the mistakes involved either mixing up records checks or incorrect information from the police.

 

21st April
2010
  

Offsite: Police Thugs...

Football fans don't deserve this police abuse

football policing video The Burnley v Blackburn derby provided another example of police using violence against fans who posed no threat

One of the troubling developments in the past few years, is the number of times police have been captured on film lashing out at innocent demonstrators and football fans, neither of whom can rely on ready sympathy from the public, but who nevertheless have rights in a democracy.

...Read full article

 

16th June
2010
  

Update: Working with Children Vetting on Hold...

Government vetting procedure weeds out bad database

rejectedPlans for a database of adults who want to work with children have been halted following a wave of criticism.

Ministers feared the Vetting and Barring scheme, designed to protect children from paedophiles and which was due to be introduced in England and Wales next month, would drive a wedge between adults and children.

Nine million people who wanted to work with children or vulnerable adults would have had to register on the database, or face a £5,000 fine.

The plan was heavily criticised by nurses, teachers and actors such as Sir Ian McKellen, who said the measures were excessive.

It would also have affected parents who signed up for school driving rotas for weekly sports events or clubs.

Last night, 66,000 employers, charities and voluntary groups were being informed of the sudden change of plan.

Home Secretary Theresa May will say that the scheme is being halted to allow the Government to remodel the scheme back to proportionate, common sense levels . The safety of children and vulnerable adults is of paramount importance to the new Government. However, it is also vital that we take a measured approach in these matters. We've listened to the criticisms and will respond with a scheme that has been fundamentally remodelled.  Vulnerable groups must be properly protected in a way that is proportionate and sensible.''

Tim Loughton, the children's minister, will say he was worried that the scheme would have driven a wedge between children and well-meaning adults, including people coming forward to volunteer with young people : Such individuals should be welcomed, encouraged, and helped as much as possible, unless it can be shown that children would not be safe in their care.

Civil liberties campaigners welcomed the news. Dylan Sharpe, the Campaign Director for Big Brother Watch, said: While the new Government's tackling of vetting and barring is welcome, this cannot be just a temporary halt.

 

18th June
2010
  

Offsite: Where do you Stop?...

Hysterical jobsworths assumed my 80-year-old assistant was a danger to children

tom wrightWhen I became a bishop, I had to fill in a form to say I hadn't been charged with any relevant offences.

This was sent to a central department to be checked and verified. (Sometimes, the computer the Home Office uses can't cope with the flood, and parish appointments are held up for weeks or months. Also, the CRB staff sometimes misread the forms and send them back for more unnecessary information.)

But then, after I arrived in the diocese, I was asked to be patron of a local inter-church youth organisation. This meant I had to fill in another form and be checked again.

And then, when I was invited to speak at a youth rally elsewhere in the country, I had to do the same once more. And because I'm a governor of a school, I had to do yet another.

This is just my own local version of the disease which has gripped us as a nation.

It crept up on us slowly, so we didn't really notice anything was wrong. But once you start checking up on everybody all the time, where do you stop?

Nobody seems to know the answer to that question.

...Read full article

 

27th June
2010
  

Update: Volunteering Made Difficult...

A Manifesto Club report about child protection vetting

volunteering made difficult As many as 4million volunteers have been forced to undergo Criminal Records Bureau checks over the past decade, according to a new report, but many are giving up on their roles because of the red tape involved and the feeling that they are under suspicion.

People who devoted their spare time to helping out in their communities say they found the vetting process thorough insulting while the bureaucracy it entails creates a burden and a bore .

Even people who sell tickets to a botanic garden or offer to write a local newsletter have been told that they must have their backgrounds checked in case they pose a risk to children.

Some children are being prevented from joining Cub packs and Scout troops until their parents have been vetted, while schools are forcing visitors to wear badges displaying their CRB numbers and making teachers accompany them to the lavatory.

The flower guild at Gloucester Cathedral, who make arrangements before services, were told they had to be vetted to prevent paedophiles infiltrating their group, and in case they used the same lavatories as choirboys. Five members have already resigned while a further 20 are threatening to do so.

Since 2002 the CRB, an agency of the Home Office, has carried out 20m detailed background checks on those who work regularly with children or vulnerable adults. Its Enhanced Checks look for convictions or cautions as well as unproven allegations held on file by police.

Although volunteers themselves do not pay to be vetted, their organisations must pay a £20 administration fee while the rest of the cost is borne by CRB checks paid for by companies and public sector bodies.

The new report, Volunteering Made Difficult , discloses that 3.87m volunteers have been vetted over the past eight years – a fifth of the total. A further 2m are likely to have to sign up when the Government's new vetting and barring scheme, now on hold pending a review, comes into force.

Josie Appleton of The Manifesto Club, the civil liberties group that compiled the new report, said: The regulation pressed on volunteers is completely out of proportion with the everyday nature of their activities - after all, they are just listening to children read or doing the crosswords with elderly people.

 

9th July
2010
  

Update: Obstacle Course...

Unvetted parents banned from their children's school sports day

CRB Vetted onlyA school turned a father away from his son's first sports day after banning parents who have not been checked by police from mixing with pupils.

The taxi driver had gone to watch his son, a year seven pupil, compete in sprints and egg-and-spoon races.

But teachers refused to let him spectate because they did not believe he had undergone checks by the Criminal Records Bureau.

De Lisle Catholic Science school in Loughborough has a policy which says that any parent who has not passed the checks is banned from attending events in which pupils take part.

The father told a Talksport radio programme: I couldn't believe it when they told me I wasn't allowed in because I didn't have the relevant CRB checks. I'd called the school that morning to ask if it would be OK if I came along and they said it would be no problem. But when I got to the school the assistant head teacher said that as I hadn't had a CRB check then I couldn't watch.

I'm a taxi driver and I have to have regular CRB checks as part of my licence. I've never had any trouble.

What is the world coming to when parents can't watch their own kids take part in what is a big day in their young lives? I'm all for protecting kids, but surely there has to be a place for common sense.

The school said in a statement: We fully appreciate that one parent was upset by our policy regarding the attendance of parents at sports days.

A spokesman for Leicestershire County Council told Talksport: Parents should have access to school activities. We certainly do not issue any guidance to say parents should have a CRB check to attend school sports days. The day-to-day running of the school is a matter for the school and its governors, but we are contacting the school to discuss their policy with them.

 

29th September
2010
  

Comment: Vetting those that Work with Children...

A disproportionate interference that doesn't make children safer

Licensed Hug Protection Relationship Generations With the imminent results of the Coalition Government's major review of the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS), which regulates contact between adults and any child not their own, independent think tank Civitas releases a new edition of Licensed to Hug , which insists the Government must get rid of the VBS once and for all.

The dramatic escalation of child protection measures, such as the VBS, has created an atmosphere of suspicion that actually increases the risks to children and damages relations between the generations.

In October 2009, Britain's newly-established Supreme Court ruled that the vetting system poses a threat to individuals' rights and represents a disproportionate interference in people's lives. Also in 2009, the outgoing Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, warned that the use of so-called soft intelligence had the capacity to damage an innocent person in his or her career financially and socially . However, well-founded civil liberties concerns had to contend with a powerful cultural acceptance that those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear :

Concerns about civil liberties tended to be outweighed by the idea that you cannot argue with a scheme that intends to protect children.

Many individuals simply complied with the rules, and hoped the problems caused by false allegations or incorrect information would not affect them. For some, this gamble didn't pay off:

Headlines such as Vetting blunders label 12,000 innocent people as paedophiles, violent thugs and thieves ... indicate that the consequences of the inevitable errors that will be made by this vast technical system should not be regarded lightly.

Home Secretary Theresa May announced the major review of the VBS in June 2010, in recognition that the existing system has got out of hand. She insisted that a new proportionate and commonsensical scheme would take a measured approach and scale back the regulations. If the Government fails to halt the VBS, the scheme will continue to poison the relationship between the generations, intersecting a broader culture of fear, which creates a formal barrier between adults and children. Licensed to Hug calls on the Government to adopt a radically new approach which recognises that the healthy interaction between generations enriches children's lives:

What's required is not just a new system, but an enlightened approach towards the promotion of intergenerational contact.

Perhaps the worst thing about the current vetting procedure is that it doesn't guarantee that children will be safe with a particular adult. All it tells us is that the adult has not been convicted of an offence in the past. Employers might even feel that they had fulfilled their obligations by paying for a CRB check and lower their guard:

Rather than creating an atmosphere of fear and suspicion based on the assumption that the majority of adults have predatory attitudes towards children, we should encourage greater openness and more frequent contact between the generations.

 

27th October
2010
  

Update: Vetting Vetted...

Government announces review of vetting for people working with children

Home Offie logoThe Home Office have issued a press release about their plans to scale back the vetting scheme being applied to workers who may come in contact with children:

In order to meet the Coalition's commitment to scale back the vetting and barring regime to common sense levels, the review will:

consider the fundamental principles and objectives behind the vetting and barring regime, including:

  • evaluating the scope of the scheme's coverage
  • the most appropriate function, role and structures of any relevant safeguarding bodies and appropriate governance arrangements
  • recommending what, if any, scheme is needed now; taking into account how to raise awareness and understanding of risk and responsibility for safeguarding in society more generally

Announcing the review, Featherstone said: While it is vital that we protect the vulnerable, this scheme as it stands is not a proportionate response. There should be a presumption that people wishing to work or volunteer with children and vulnerable adults are safe to do so unless it can be shown otherwise.

The review will also take on board the criminal records regime, which Featherstone describes as having developed piecemeal and due for an overhaul to ensure that we strike a balance between protecting civil liberties and protecting the public.

 

12th December
2010
  

Offsite: A Common Sense Revolution...

Growing numbers of volunteers are refusing to put up with humiliating and unnecessary vetting checks
Blakey from On the Buses

  CRB vetting?
Best thing that ever
happened to this country

Last January, Annabel Hayter, chairwoman of Gloucester Cathedral Flower Guild, received an email saying that she and her 60 fellow flower arrangers would have to undergo a CRB check. CRB stands for Criminal Records Bureau, and a CRB check is a time-consuming, sometimes expensive, pretty much always pointless vetting procedure that you must go through if you work with children or vulnerable adults .

The cathedral authorities expected no resistance. Though the increasing demand for ever tighter safety regulation has become one of the biggest blights on Britain today, we are all strangely supine: frightened not to comply. Not so Annabel Hayter. I am not going to do it, she said. And her act of rebellion sparked a mini-revolution among the other cathedral flower ladies.

...Read the full article

 

6th February
2011
  

Update: Millions Still will be Vetted...

Government to scale down the vetting scheme for people who work with children

Independent Safeguarding Authority logo A scheme for vetting people who work with children is to be scaled down.

The Daily Telegraph reports that following a review of the Vetting and Barring scheme, criminal record checks will only be carried out on those who have intensive contact with the young.

As a result, ministers agreed to vet adults only if they saw the same group of children or vulnerable people once a week or more, rather than once a month as originally proposed.

It is estimated that this will halve the number of people who will be vetted from the 9 to 11 million people previously caught up by the scheme.

At the same time, the government will announce that criminal record checks are to be sent to individuals first - before they go to potential employers - to allow them to challenge any mistakes.

Also minor offences will be removed from the checking process.

A Home Office spokesperson said an official announcement would be made shortly.

 

18th February
2012

 Offsite Article: Britain's Security State...

CRB Vetting is Completely Out of Control

See article from dailymail.co.uk

 

  Righting Wrongs...

Home Office to expunge consensual gay sex from criminal records currently used to unjustifiably ban gays from working with children


Link Here 11th September 2012  full story: Vetting Workers...UK vets all adults to work with kids

Home Offie logo The Home Office will, from 1 October, begin the process of correcting an anomaly in the criminal records system which has for decades seen gay men unfairly stigmatised.

Anyone with a historic conviction, caution, warning or reprimand for consensual gay sex, that meets the conditions laid down in the new Protection of Freedoms Act, will be encouraged to come forward and apply to have these records deleted or disregarded.

Until now, people wishing to volunteer or work in roles that require criminal records checks have been discouraged from doing so, for fear of having to disclose offences which have long since been decriminalised.

These changes mean that, after a successful application, this information no longer needs to be disclosed on a criminal records certificate and those individuals who may have been inhibited from volunteering or seeking new work will now find that inhibition removed.

The change was made under the Protection of Freedoms Act, which received royal assent on 1 May 2012. The Home Office is working closely with the Courts and Tribunals Service, and the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Ministry of Defence to run the application process. A dedicated team of caseworkers will consider each case and make recommendations to the Home Secretary who will have the final decision.

Successful applicants will have their records updated so the offence will no longer appear on a criminal records certificate or be referred to in any future court proceedings.

Update: Now in force

2nd October 2012. See  article from  homeoffice.gov.uk

From 1st October anyone with a historic conviction for certain decriminalised consensual sex offences can apply to have these records deleted.

Until now, people wishing to work in roles that require background checks have been discouraged from doing so for fear of having to disclose offences which have long since been decriminalised.

The change was made in the Protection of Freedoms Act, which received royal assent on 1 May 2012.

The process

You can apply on the Home Website by filling out the following online form.

The Home Office will then work with the Courts, Tribunals Service and Association of Chief Police Officers. A dedicated team of caseworkers will consider each case and make recommendations to the Home Secretary who will have the final decision.

Successful applicants will have their records updated so the offence will no longer appear on a criminal records certificate or be referred to in any future court proceedings.

 

 Offsite Article: Caution. Job Destroyers at Work...


Link Here 4th November 2012  full story: Vetting Workers...UK vets all adults to work with kids
Growing numbers of people are being turned down for jobs and university places because they accepted police cautions for minor offences. Cautions showed up on 153,000 Criminal Records Bureau checks last year.

See article from dailymail.co.uk

 

 Offsite Article: Judges rule criminal record checks to be incompatible with Human Rights Act...


Link Here 26th January 2013  full story: Vetting Workers...UK vets all adults to work with kids
The overzealous criminal record vetting system has allowed old, minor and unreliable information to wreck the lives of too many hardworking people in the UK.

See article from bbc.co.uk

 

 Offsite Article: This High Court ruling on criminal records is only a minor win for human rights...


Link Here 1st February 2013  full story: Vetting Workers...UK vets all adults to work with kids
This ruling may limit the disclosure of historic information, but what about its retention?

See article from independent.co.uk

 

 Offsite Article: Parents treated like felons on remand by school CRB checks...


Link Here 26th February 2013  full story: Vetting Workers...UK vets all adults to work with kids
crb logo Thousands of parents are still being forced to undergo suspicious and hostile criminal record checks to volunteer in schools despite Coalition reforms designed to introduce common sense into the child protection system.

See article from telegraph.co.uk

 

 Update: Arranging Flowers whilst the Church Sinks...

Archbishop gets heavy about enforcing CRB vetting checks on flower arrangers


Link Here 25th July 2013  full story: Vetting Workers...UK vets all adults to work with kids

rowan atkinson this means you videoFlower arrangers, refreshment stall staff and Church sidesmen could face CRB vetting checks if they have substantial contact with children.

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has warned that the Church is now being utterly ruthless in its approach to CRB checks despite saying that cases of abuse are now negligible .

In his most outspoken comments on the issue since his appointment earlier this year, the Archbishop said that volunteers refusing checks are being told: You can't come to church . He said:

The whole structure has changed. I know a safeguarding officer who went into a very traditional church recently...a number of people who had been members of the church for years and years and years, refusing to fill out the CRB forms.

And they said, 'Well were not going to do it, we've been members of this church for 50 or 60 years', and the safeguarding officer said, 'Fine, don't do it, but you can't come to church'.

The Archbishop's comments come after a series of cases where volunteers including flower arrangers complained about overzealous CRB checks.

A source close to the Archbishop tonight insisted that people who refuse the checks will not be banned from services, but would be prevented from volunteering or working for the organisation.

 

 Update: An abuse of human rights...

Pre employment job vetting of minor offences now illegal


Link Here 25th January 2016  full story: Vetting Workers...UK vets all adults to work with kids
Old BaileyMandatory pre-employment criminal record checks have been ruled unlawful in the UK, following a ruling in the High Court.

Lord Justice McCombe and Mrs Justice Carr declared the government's disclosure scheme is incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The High Court heard the complaints of two people who had suffered professional setbacks after being forced to disclose minor criminal convictions to potential employers.

Lord Justice McCombe ruled that the criminal record disclosure scheme in the UK was arbitrary and unlawful.

The challenge related only to minor offences, and no challenge was made to the rules requiring disclosure for those who have been convicted of violent or sexual crimes.

The Home Office has declared that it will consider whether to appeal the decision.