back to article Is Gordon Brown safe to work with vulnerable people?

Number 10 refused to say this week if Gordon Brown will be subjected to the CRB checks his government has imposed on the rest of us ahead of the "voluntary" work he will be doing in his constituency as part of his over-spun staycation. Details of what he will be doing, or what organisations he intends to work with are currently …

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Big Brother

Trust?

Re "even a remote possibility that interaction between adults and a vulnerable group might lead to the creation of a "relationship of trust", individuals should be checked and registered"

Who the hell in their right mind is going to trust him???

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Coat

Common sense?

I praise Harriet Harman for recognising that common sense exists. Its just a shame she and her cohorts seem to have none. MPs have failed to recognise their proposals would technically apply to themselves and they've even recognised that it doesn't make sense.

They could do one of 2 things: recognise that their proposals do not follow common sense and need a rethink (most common sense approach in my opinion) or they could just exempt themselves from any legislation (the most likely behaviour from those who lack common sense).

Next week in government... proposals to make all private and public sector works in control of significant interests (banking, finance and health) to take mandatory 'common sense' exams. Common sense dictates that MPs will not have to take such exams themselves.

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Silver badge

Lawsuits?

A spokesman for the Home Office is also reported as describing the vetting database as like a "club", which all decent adults should want to be part of and if somebody didn’t want to be vetted "there must be suspicious reasons for that".

If I get into a position where I refuse to go through the process and someone trots out the above, is it grounds for libel/slander? As soon as it is applied to an individual it is defamatory. I guess there's the risk that you get a 'free' check because their only defence is that there is a good reason.

Anyway, I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members. (With apologies to Groucho.)

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Anonymous Coward

Ed 'Diddler' Balls

Ed Balls, has said that he (Ed Balls) WILL be checked because, he is in a position of authority over children and therefore needs to be checked. i.e. he said he is a risk to children. He said other MPs don't need to be because they don't work with children.

It follows that Brown needs to be checked because he is senior to Ed Balls, also in a position of authority over children, and therefore also a risk to small children.

It's worth remembering that Brown gets to see the 'secret intelligence' on himself included in their file, whereas everyone else doesn't, this extended background check lets information be submitted that can't be seen or challenged by the person themselves, making the appeals process a mockery.

It's also worth remembering that the pedo this was introduced to prevent, wasn't working with the kids he snatched.

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Stop

Ok...

"the guiding principle appears to be that where there is even a remote possibility that interaction between adults and a vulnerable group might lead to the creation of a "relationship of trust", individuals should be checked and registered."

Well yes, because the media bay for blood whenever someone who has a relationship of trust with a child is someone who you wouldn't want anywhere near kids. I'm not saying that's wrong, of course it isn't, but the quoted point doesn't seem to make much sense to me.

All in all, the media seems to be saying that on the one hand we need to perform checks, on the other hand we don't want to be checked ourselves. On the one hand the system is failing at the moment, on the other hand we don't want to have to look at another system which is providing better checks. On the one hand we don't think the government of today has any common sense, on the other hand, let's childishly jibe at the prime minister.

I'm someone who has lost a lot of faith in Labour (I probably wouldn't vote for them in a general election), but this seems like a silly jab.

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Big Brother

Don't you people know...

... it's one rule for the ruling Elite, and another for us lowly surfs?

Now stop questioning your betters and go back to being good little sheep.

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Paris Hilton

Behind Closed Doors

What difference does it make?

Given the amount of surveillance we are all under anyway anyone doing anything wrong will be seen, caught and punished.

Paris, as she knows there is no such thing as privacy.

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Anonymous Coward

That settles it then...

"the guiding principle appears to be that where there is even a remote possibility that interaction between adults and a vulnerable group might lead to the creation of a "relationship of trust", individuals should be checked and registered."

Who on Earth is going to trust GB again? Maybe his Mum but I can't think of anyone else.

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WTF?

Flawed, flawed, flawed

Please remember that Gordon Brown's constituency is in Scotland; our laws on this are rather different (yes, shock horror, PM's plans don't affect his own constituency).

I would proposition he would need a basic Discolsure if he were to be working with children, perhaps an enhanced Disclosure if he were to be left alone with vulnerable people.

In Scotland, you CAN get an individual Disclosure, for yourself (for the self-employed and the like), or you can get one through a parent organisation. Where you got the idea that these 'umbrella bodies' would charge a fortune, I don't know. But if they are a voluntary group, they certainly would not be charged.

Yet again, El Reg is trying to apply English law in Scotland. It won't work. CRB checks, the ISA - none of these apply North of the Border.

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Stop

Harriet

I'd have thought that Harriet Harman would want all male MPs to be CRB checked. They#re all men and thus potential rapists, after all...

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The Buck Starts Here

It only stands to reason that those with the most control over the lives of the most vulnerable persons should be the first, and most deeply, vetted of all.

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Mary Wakefield is talking out of her arse.

i don't know what the situation is in England, but in Scotland if you are volunteering (and presumably he will be volunteering in Scotland) there is no cost for a Disclosure Scotland check, the body you are volunteering for sends an application to CRBS (the umbrella body) and they apply to Disclosure Scotland. There is NO COST to the applicant or to the body/group you are volunteering for.

I have no interest in defending Gordon Brown btw, but I do volunteer work with young kids.

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IT Angle

Brown doesn't need a CRB check

We all trusted him enough to vote him in to power in the first place.

Oh ... wait!

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WTF?

slander

Does anyone know if we can sue the government for slander as their spokesdroid stated anyone not a member of the club is suspicious?

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FAIL

MPs do not have a relationship of trust

"In respect of the new vetting scheme, which will be launched in October, and acts as a further safeguard around the CRB system, the guiding principle appears to be that where there is even a remote possibility that interaction between adults and a vulnerable group might lead to the creation of a "relationship of trust", individuals should be checked and registered."

Obviously MPs do not expect to be trusted by children, the elderly (>65), or anyone else. Surely this would be over half the population????

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Big Brother

If you take it to its logical extreme......

All parents should surely have to be vetted ( before they have children) as they are in a position of trust and by far the most abuses occur in the home!

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Anonymous Coward

Gordon won't need a CRB check

You answer the question yourself in the text, one would hope that no person (vulnerable or otherwise) would even try and create a "relationship of trust" with the aforementioned person - they're more likely to be scare witless by him. hence no need for a CRB check.

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Can I just say

The bloody HP ads are getting right on my tits.

Roll on until I get home and use FF+ABP

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@ Gregor

You can get an individual disclosure, direct from Disclosure Scotland, which costs £23 Scots.

If you are applying to work with an organisation the organisation would apply through an umbrella group (CRBS). If it's a voluntary organisation and you are going to be doing voluntary work with vulnerable people, this service is free (as is the Disclosure Scotland check itself). If it's a commercial organisation they charge an admin fee (£25 Scots).

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Joke

Common Sense

Ah, the refuge of those who can't form a cogent argument for their own views...

"There is no such thing as common sense. When someone says to you 'use your common sense' what they are actually saying is 'do it MY way'.. " ~ Billy Connolly.

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Megaphone

History's Warnings

"The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people." - Adolf Hitler.

History has shown that by far the biggest danger to children are those who would manipulate and control us by exploiting our fears for children's safety. Just look at the Hitler Youth: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitler_youth

Gordon Brown, just in being in the position of Prime Minister, is in one of the most powerful and potentially dangerous positions over children. According to the line of thinking being established, he absolutely must be vetted, and this must be made public.

"Nothing to hide, nothing to fear."

Let him lead by example, or lead not at all.

Better still, let's just scrap all this Orwellian stuff altogether.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Troll

Don't think of the children ....

.... think of the adults.

After the debacle with the banks aren't we all "vulnerable people"?

We trusted the then Chancellor and he let us down. Now he's Prime Minister .... a post that is only tenable if there is some element of trust.

Time for all MPs and especially all ministers to be vetted.

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Pint

If it is a publicity stunt,,,

Then it is an insanely misguided one. By engaging in worthy misery as a summer holiday, Brown just confirms to the public he is nothing like an ordinary human being. If he must do social work, he ought to have kept quiet about it.

Cameron and Clegg OTOH get non-Brownie points for coming across as standard upper middle-class Euro-trippers, having lined up doing vaguely-described nothing much in France and Spain respectively. (Cameron's "trashy novel" might be gilding the lily, but is at least a lily being gilded and not a rosy brier amid life's thorny path o' care.)

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Dead Vulture

Oops

"Who on Earth is going to trust GB again? Maybe his Mum but I can't think of anyone else."

If she weren't dead, of course.

http://news.scotsman.com/gordonbrownsfamily/Brown-mourns-loss-of-mother.2565552.jp

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WTF?

SHOCKED!!

"A spokesman for the Home Office is also reported as describing the vetting database as like a "club", which all decent adults should want to be part of and if somebody didn’t want to be vetted "there must be suspicious reasons for that"."

Did I really just read that??

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Thanks...and no thanks

Thanks, Sweep, for providing the definitive answer in respect of Disclosure Scotland. I have been aware for some time of the discrepancy between the Scottish "crb" and our own - including the fact that Scots pay rather less than what we do in the rest of the UK for one.

I am not altogether sure I do accept the point about using CRBS as the relevant umbrella group. That is, I accept that it exists as an alternative - but I have had enough experience of asking the same question of different bits of the same government and coming up with different answers to rely totally on what one bit of it claims.

For instance, the price differential between England and Scotland might open up a little bit of cross-border traffic in checking. I have had different answers as to whether that is permissible, with some officials saying a Scottish check can be applied for in respect of an English job, and others saying not.

I suspect Mary Wakefield concentrated on the English end of things, and didn't pick up on the Scottish aspect. But I may be wrong.

Mark 57: forgive me if I write to disagree with you. This issue is one that affects all of us. The government has introduced a scheme that will, in future, impinge on the working lives of between 40% and 50% of the working population.

It includes extra-judicial punishment - in the sense that even after you have paid the price for any crime committed, you may still find your job prospects seriously impaired by your history and even by allegations made against you. It also includes some very hefty penalties for both employers and employees who get it wrong: who fail to be checked when they should.

However, a parallel exercise, by the Manifesto Club has highlighted that in respect of critical details, no-one within government is really clear at all as to what the fine detail of the rules will be. So let's recap. A large proportion of the public don't see what the point of this exercise is: some may just ignore it; others may misunderstand the rules.

As a result of which, they will face the possibility of large fines and/or imprisonment.

Meanwhile, some MP's and some Ministers appear to be utterly cavalier about the rules and whether they plan to comply or not. If nothing else, putting such people on the spot and forcing them to grapple with rules they have put in place might just lead them to rethink how far these rules should afffect the rest of us.

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Pint

@Scrubber, 11th August 11:21

"Given the amount of surveillance we are all under anyway anyone doing anything wrong will be seen, caught and punished."

You obviously missed hearing about the attack on Hazel Blears' car then. On the other hand, it is a rather delicious irony...

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@Mark 57

You're completely missing the point.

No one is suggesting that Gordon Brown isn't trustworthy to work with vulnerable people, just as no-one cares what Jacqui Smith's husband watches on TV.

The point is that the current government has shown itself far too willing to impose rules and regulations on the population without taking into account how much ordinary law-abiding citizens resent being constantly made to feel they're under suspicion for something they haven't done. It's no bad thing therefore when they get to see at first hand what the impact of the rules they make are.

They need to understand that I may not have done anything wrong but that still doesn't mean I want mindless bureaucrats prying into my private affairs just for the sake of it.

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Alert

Re: This article is utter bollocks

What's the point? The point is that it show the ridiculousness of it all. There is hardly any politician that does not have some mark against them; even if it is from the previous regime that HAD to put something in there while they were in power. And now it all comes to fruitition; that slightly blaming piece put in by Ima Nutter, feverent party follower and "civil servant", against Harold Bloke, MP of So-and-so-on-Avon in his record, now shows a "positive" (which FAILS?) on a CRB check... with no explanation or reasoning.

Everyone knows (even on this side of the pond), Gordon has more bones rattling in his cupboard than Tony did... and no one wants the CRB check done until all that can be cleaned up, eh? What would it look like when the CRB comes back and he fails like we all know most of Government would?

Remember, PEOPLE ARE FAILING FOR AS LITTLE AS QUESTIONING A PARKING TICKET. What do you do in your glass house? You don't have to answer, we already know. :)

Oddly enough, we in the Colonies don't need this; we are all assumed to be criminals and terrorists just for living here.

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Thumb Up

Re: Thanks...and no thanks

John Ozimek said "I have had different answers as to whether that is permissible, with some officials saying a Scottish check can be applied for in respect of an English job, and others saying not."

Both are correct - it appears that the 'basic' check is cross-border valid, whereas the more-stringent "standard" and "enhanced" ones definitely aren't, (oh, and the England/Wales process doesn't have the 'basic' check available anyway, although NI does too). Certainly this is the statement made in http://www.disclosurescotland.com/AnswertoFAQ53.htm

From my own experience, I recently joined a company that is a supplier to HMG. I needed the lowest level disclosure and, since I live in bonnie Scotland, my 'basic' paperwork went to Disclosure Scotland. I checked with my wife (a primary school teacher - a profession needing the 'enhanced' disclosure) and she tells me that colleagues of hers that needed to head "doon sooth" to work had to apply for a new disclosure because their Scottish one wasn't recognized by the CRB.

HTH

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FAIL

It's always been one rule for them...

CRB for public = Check

CRB for MP's = Nah, we're exempt

Smoking ban for public = Check

Smoking ban in house of commons bar = Nope, exempt and can still smoke happily in their bar!

Yup, same thing, move along...

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Silver badge

@This article is utter bollocks

This was the system before Harold Wilson abolished it - prospective MPs were vetted by the security services before being allowed to stand.

Of course this gave MI5 a veto on parliament. The files on candidates and reasons for rejections were of course classified but labour party members who might be a 'bit troublesome' were rejected for having links to unions.

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Go

Do MPs need vetting to work with MPs?

"the guiding principle appears to be that where there is even a remote possibility that interaction between adults and a vulnerable group might lead to the creation of a "relationship of trust", individuals should be checked and registered."

Given the current polls, I'd suggest that most MPs must be feeling they are part of a "vulnerable group". Does that mean anyone associating with an MP needs to be vetted? Including other MPs?

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WTF?

Hefty fees - crap

"However, this claim is rejected by Mary Wakefield, who points out that the CRB will not accept applications from individuals, requiring instead that people apply through one of the "umbrella bodies" – which charge hefty fees quite separate from the cost of the check itself."

Bullshit.

We check people through Disclosure at my work for both our employees and volunteers - we charge nothing other than the £20 Disclosure Scotland charge.

I've not come across anyone charging a hefty fee to countersign a Disclosure application, after all it takes 60 seconds at the most.

Another point - given the likely presence of armed officers etc, the chance of Gordon Brown having access to vulnerable people and people able to forge a 1 to 1 relationship or be alone with them is negligible, therefore technically he probably wouldn't actually need one.

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Anonymous Coward

Of course he's not!

If there's anything that the expenses debacle has shown us it's that MPs are exempt from rules meant for the hoi polloi and are above the law on fraud.

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Big Brother

A Simple Suggestion

Why not just CRB all 60-odd Million people, then we can RFID Tag them all and there will be no bad things happening ever again. We can then sack all the police an save lots of money.

... Then do it again for the passport office, then run the checks again for ID cards, Immigration checks, Revenue, DSS, Etc .

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Black Helicopters

Ohhh, wow...

""there must be suspicious reasons for that"'

Just... whoah. You guys totally have my sympathy.

In other news - I'm coming to the UK in a few weeks. Can I be reasonably sure that the US government will exert pressure on your autocratic government for my release should I be detained? And where in London is the US embassy, exactly? :P

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Anonymous Coward

@ This article is utter bollocks

Umm, Gordon Brown doesn't actually have access to *everything* - MPs and even the PM are not vetted to a high enough level to have access to protectively marked material.

The position itself is not automatically turning you into a lower security risk (IMHO the opposite is true), and with their habit of "accidentally" leaking info when it suits them I fully agree with those who ensure they always brief MPs from material in the public domain.

As for the overall question: would you trust Gordon Brown with anything? No, I wouldn't, but that's my personal opinion :-).

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Big Brother

The Thought Police?

Where will this vetting stuff end? Are the vetting authorities to be New Labour's thought police?

We already know this government's opposed to so-called "extremism", "radicalisation", and the like. But what really counts as "extreme" and "radical"? Will the government, through the vetting authorities, end up trying to protect everyone from anyone who's regarded as a "bad influence"? And isn't that really a matter of trying to control people ("manage" society) by trying to control what kinds of thoughts people might end up thinking?

There are plenty of people who believe the political establishment is rotten to the core, undemocratic and tyrannical, and that it should be replaced with something better, something truly democratic. But isn't that tantamount to seeking the overthrow of our so-called "system of democracy" or the State? Isn't that heading in the direction of outright terrorism?

Would you have bomb-tossing anarchists, their supporters or sympathisers, looking after vulnerable members of your family? No? Better blacklist those Liberal Democrats, then, just to be on the safe side. Just to make sure your children don't end up radicalised against the State, of course.

It might sound ridiculous now, but how would this current vetting stuff have sounded twenty years ago? Not to mention massive communications databases, data sharing, ID cards, etc, etc...

The government's attitude towards and opposition to so-called "radicalisation" demonstrates how the government believes it's necessary to take control of what kinds of thoughts people might end up thinking in order to pre-empt acts they might go on to commit. And legislation such as the extreme porn law and the proposed cartoon law currently going through parliament also demonstrate this government's belief in pre-empting acts by trying to limit thoughts.

This vetting stuff all sounds increasingly like a kind of replacement for the existing justice system, but where the established system of justice is gradually getting subsumed into the new system. And it's a new system where we don't really have rights, only responsibilities (isn't that basically slavery?). We don't have the right to the presumption of innocence. We don't have the right to know what the allegations against us are. We don't have the right to defend ourselves. But we may end up with a duty to participate in implementing, imposing and enforcing this system.

"In the far distance a helicopter skimmed down between the roofs, hovered for an instant like a bluebottle, and darted away again with a curving flight. It was the police patrol, snooping into people's windows. The patrols did not matter, however. Only the Thought Police mattered." - 1984, by George Orwell, http://www.george-orwell.org/1984/

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Wouldn't it be fun

if someone who had failed a CRB check on the basis of undislosed allegations took every MP who voted for the law to the ECHR or breach of youman rites?

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Headmaster

Is Gordon Brown safe to work with vulnerable people?

This title implies that Gordon Brown may not be in a position of safety.

I would have thought that he is safe from vulnerable people but that vulnerable people would be unsafe with him.

So your title should have been....

"Is it safe for Gordon Brown to work with vulnerable people?"

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Unhappy

Seems uncomfortably apposite

From the film "Downfall - Hitler and the End of the Third Reich":

Registrar of Marriages: (awkwardly) My Führer, I… The Race Laws require me to ask you this: My Führer, are you of pure Aryan descent?

Adolf Hitler: Yes.

Registrar: May I see your ID?

Hitler pauses.

Josef Goebbels: You’re talking to the Führer.

Registrar: Yes, sir… And are you, Fraulein Braun, of pure Aryan descent?

Eva Braun: Yes.

Registrar: Then the matter is… there are no obstacles… I ask you: do you my Führer Adolf Hitler, take Eva Braun to be your lawful wedded wife?

BTW, this is not a "Brown is a Nazi" post (though the actor who played Hans Krebs was a dead ringer for him :-\ ).

On the subject of clubs, what sort of club will the vetting database be? The Freemasons? The Conservative Club? The golf club? The local church or kirk, back in the days when non-churchgoers could be prosecuted for godlessness?

Crap. Didn't the Nazionale Socialisten Partei regard themselves as something that all decent menschen should want to be part of, and regard refusal to join, send children to the Hitler Youth, or display a swastika flag as suspicious? Sigh. Welcome to the United Kingdom of Great Suspicion and Nasty Innuendo; join in the fun - or else.

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