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back to article Government swiftly backpedals on vetting scheme

The Vetting Database is in trouble: that’s official. Or rather, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), it most definitely is not. That is why Ed Balls, Secretary of State at the DCSF, is absolutely NOT calling for "a review". Rather, in a letter to Barry Sheerman, Chair of the …

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FAIL

Translation required.

".....a sure-fire vote-winner has less support than they expected."

I think this really means: "A knee-jerk political reaction designed to please readers* of the Daily Mail has been rubbished by the, er, Daily Mail.".

*It may be the right word, but it *feels* wrong in context. Any suggestions?

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FAIL

More pointless waste and intrusion

It's an impossible task - no vetting will ever detect the *first* and subsequent undetected offences and if we could spot pedos by their everyday behaviour there wouldn't be a problem anyway.

Waste of money and gives people who don't understand the problem false hopes.

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Paris Hilton

What information are they looking at?

It would seem that my assessment will be based on my medical records (drug use), interviews with past girlfriends (sexual history) and my Amazon wish list (favourite films).

So paracetamol, grateful and Terminator. Do I pass?

Paris, because she has had more screenings than I have had hot dinners.

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This is a load of BS

"the case worker will examine..."predisposing factors", such as "those factors relating to an individual’s interests or drives"; "cognitive factors", such as "strong anti-social beliefs"; and "behavioural factors", including "using substances or sex to cope with stress or impulsive, chaotic or unstable lifestyle. Drug use, sex life, favourite films".

So anything and everything an applicant is interested in would be under the microscope. As would "cognitive factors", whatever they are. "Favourite films" - what difference does it make if I prefer Psycho to Snow WHite?!?! This is all enough to lead me to have "strong anti-social beliefs" - if you include hating the government as an anti-social belief.

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I see the plan now

So, "using sex to cope with stress" will get people banned from contact with children?

Clearly the government's plan is to stop people having sex (nasty, durty stuff) at all. Then, of course, there will be no more children, which guarantees 100% child safety. As a bonus the non-children won't emit any CO2, nor consume any fossil fuel, so the UK future energy problems are solved. A masterstroke. And since it will be 18 years before these non-children become non-voters it won't be a problem for the current government, many of whom are soon to become non-MPs anyway.

What will all the bureautwats do then, though?

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Cool

Quote: three formal contacts within a three month period – even with different vulnerable groups - would count.

Cool. This means _ALL_ MPs need to be vetted. They end up visiting that much schools in the run-up to each election. It is also easy to force - just set your lawyer on any LEA that has not requested a vetting for an MP visiting your child's school. I definitely will (nothing, personal, just happen to "love" the local LEA).

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Black Helicopters

"Predisposing factors

such as those relating to individuals interests". Thought police, says me. Obviously anon.

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FAIL

Well, I'm screwed.

Despite four years wworking with Primary School children without a bad word said about me, no doubt I'll be "restricted" under this scheme because:

- I've watched "A Clockwork Orange" and found it an interesting insight into improper government intervention into individual's private life (Ironic?) and not a debauched perv-fest which should have all copies burned.

- I played Doom at around the same time as the Columbine kids played Doom

- I spend a lot of time playing WoW, and therefore not in the physical company of others

- I am witty and charming, and therefore engender trust in others (God forbid that should actually help me do my job, though).

They can't scrap this idea fast enough. It's total rubbish.

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Anonymous Coward

ISA and CRB checks

Comments on the need to continue with CRB checks given that ISA is a simple "yes/no" gets to one of the problems with the new scheme. A few months back I was speaking to a Church Diocesan secretary (who is responsible for handling all the Diocese CRB checks) as to how "negative" CRB results were handled (mainly because when our church had discussed CRB checks with seeminly no concern for any confidentiality and I asked how they would hanle a negative response and was told "well that's not going tohappen is it"). Her response was that while it was possible to get a result that clearly indicate the person must not be allowed to work with children (though she agreed that its unlikely now that people in this category would attempt a CRB check) the most likely issue was examples like a CRB result that showed no child protection issues but (and this is the example she gave) revealed a history of dangerous driving convictions in which case the result of the CRB check would probably be to say that the person was ok to work with children but an instruction that the Church was in no circumstance to use that person to drive children anywhere.

Given that the whole issue has just blown up over whether people driving children around need to be vetted then the idea that ISA is a benefit because it removes the need for a CRB check may actually be counterproductive as it removes information that while not directly child protection related in general may, by the nature of the specific role involved be very relevant.

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Megaphone

I refuse to prove I am not guilty

I like a drink

I like a smoke

I like to play Quake Live Online

I like to look at porn.

I sometimes get annoyed

I sometimes shout..................

but I love my own children and respect the others around me.

I am normal and refuse to submit to your categorising

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Big Brother

It's not paranoia... etc.

The government, and DSCF in particular, seem to have an obsession with safeguarding, to the exclusion of everything else. They don't care that children will be denied the chance to be children and do fun things, merely that no harm can come to them until they're 18 and have to find their own way in the world. In reality, we know that there will always be casualties as under-resourced government departments struggle under the weight of bureaucracy. Baby P and Victoria Climbie are two high-profile examples of this where, even with all the information,, the system still failed.

Therefore we need a sensible balance, which Balls did at least manage to understand, the problem being that his version of balance appears to be far from that of rational members of the public. Yes there will be unsavoury incidents, but proper education is the answer, not more regulation. Teach parents to help their children talk through things openly, to help avoid the culture of secrecy and fear that paedophiles attempt to create.

On a related note, the attempt at regulating home education is subject to protests this week, with activities all over the country to draw attention to a similar nasty registration scheme that DCSF wants to inflict on home educators. Next it will be compulsory welfare home visits for all under-5s, then it wil be all children visited over the long summer holiday, lest their long time away from school be used for evil intent.

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Title

surely the whole thing is absolute rubbish? A pdo looking to start their campaign of grossness surely will tip up with a clean bill of health, be given full access to the children and not get questioned as it'll have no history?

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There oughta be a law

As usual, this intrusion is the fault of the very people who were howling for it to happen. When will the public understand that calling for new laws and restrictions on other people will inevitably come back to impact them. There are no other people, just us.

Remember when people were complaining that every potential house buyer had to pay for his own surveyor's report? That lead to the current expensive and useless house seller's information pack that we all have to pay for (if you think only the seller pays, you don't understand economics), but you still need a surveyor's report as well. Naturally the government threw in all the extra red tape they could think of; they are government after all. Having a mandate from the public was an opportunity to slip in their own agenda, and of course they lost the original objective along the way.

We have to stop calling for draconian measures to be taken against others. They are inevitably applied against everyone. You think the government should regulate banker's pay? Think it through.

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Anonymous Coward

He doesn't speak for me or you

Independent Safeguarding Authority? Sir Roger Singleton? Another fake proxy to give approval on behalf of the parents who don't!!

It seems to me that ISA has no standing on the matter, because the people who disagree with the CRB checks didn't appoint him as their representative. He is of course not independent, he is an appointee! It's like the ID check thing:

Pilots: "We will not be force to take ID cards"

Data Protection Commissioner: "I have grave doubts about this ID card for pilots"

Government: "We will address these concerns"... (talks to Data Protection Commissioner rather than pilots)

Government: "We have addressed the concerns and now the data protection commissioner agrees it is ok"

Data Protection Commissioner: "I had my doubts, but I have been totally reassured and while I'm at it, lets take DNA samples too and do Extended Background Checks because they flay a plane that may contain children!"

In effect the government substitutes a fake representative in place of the objecting party, then addresses the fake complaints of that objecting party instead of the real complaint.

This sounds like the same thing Ed Balls is doing here. He's already tried the 'blame someone else' trick..... blaming the report when the report says it is unlikely to fix Soham because the kid snatcher didn't even work at the school!

Does he understand, that by creating a set of people who are vetted and approved, he is creating a huge *unapproved* set of people who must be excluded from interacting with children. i.e. the Children as freaks unable to deal with social interactions because all their social interactions with adults are adults walking away trying to avoid them!

Roll forward 20 years and you'll end up with a (more) socially dysfunctional Britain than today, you think it's bad when neighbours will call the police rather than ask someone to turn down their stereo, wait till 20 years from now when this anti social law has done its damage.

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Back-pedaling or U-turn

It seem the chickens are coming home to roost.

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Stop

WHAT?!

"'those factors relating to an individual’s interests or drives'; 'cognitive factors', such as 'strong anti-social beliefs'; and 'behavioural factors', including 'using substances or sex to cope with stress or impulsive, chaotic or unstable lifestyle. Drug use, sex life, favourite films.'"

Someone please, please tell me that the anti-vetting campaigners (or an El Reg hack) has over-sensationalised this!

*HOW* would they know about things like your interests, beliefs, sex life or favourite films? There isn't a record somewhere of the fact that I like martial arts, Kill Bill and Sin City ("Ooh, too violent, no job for me then").

Can't help thinking that the easiest way to find out people's interests is to buy the consumer purchase patterns from the likes of Nectar or Tesco Clubcard. Cash-only transactions, anyone?

So, how long until they start lobbying ISPs for data logs? That's the other logical way of finding out this stuff. ("Oh, you like p0rn? You won't be teaching any kids then!")

Combine this with an unfounded allegation, via the enhanced CRB 'soft data' farce, and no-one will be innocent of anything.

Right, that's it. I've not been motivated so far towards things like encryption for everything, but IF this stuff is true, then it really is time to start covering your tracks. Cash-only, encrypted comms, you name it.

Note also that the traits above, e.g. chaotic lifestyle, drugs etc, would be deemed as hugely relevant by most employers, not just ones involving kids. So the near-apocalyptic view by a poster yesterday that ALL employers would only recruit off the vetted DB comes MUCH closer to reality. Cue a 2-tier society; 'valids' and 'invalids', just like Gattaca.

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How the scheme will fail ...

Bearing in mind the new scheme deals with "soft" data, then somebodys position is absolutely irrelevant. Whilst you can be 99.9999% sure a fully-sworn police officer has no CRB issues, you cannot say the same of the "soft" data that may surround them. Or MPs come to that.

So there is no logical concept of "exempted" roles.

Wait till policemen and the like start failing ISA vetting ... it won't be dropped fast enough.

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Sign the petition - it's at...

http://www.petitiononline.com/vetting2/petition.html

Naturally, in doing so, you may notice increased incidents of black helicopters flying over your house...

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Heart

Hooray for John Ozimek!

More excellent work from John Ozimek. Give him a knighthood!

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Anonymous Coward

@ISA and CRB checks

"Her response ....the most likely issue was examples like a CRB result that showed no child protection issues but (and this is the example she gave) revealed a history of dangerous driving convictions in which case the result of the CRB check would probably be to say that the person was ok to work with children but an instruction that the Church was in no circumstance to use that person to drive children anywhere."

So the court decides that his driving license isn't worth taking away, yet she gets to decide not just if that should be a lifetime ban on driving children, not based on the evidence or testimony in court, based on a note in the record and some point score. Also at her whim she gets to decide whether he should even be allowed near children even if he isn't to drive them?

And why should this information be provided IF HE'S NOT BEING HIRED AS A DRIVER? If he was being hired as a driver, then his driving license would be provided and insurance required, which would show the problem.

Worse, the proposal is to include soft information, i.e. unsubstantiated accusations, and secret information, i.e. libel, because if they could be substantiated then they wouldn't need to be secret!

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FAIL

Why not just vet everyone, and be done with it.

Then, when the tragically inevitable happens, it can be proven to be a waste of everyone's time and money.

Think of the kids, won't you, that after school football club that never get's formed on that dodgy estate, because the prospective coach is worried that he was cautioned once for smoking a spliff.

Let the kids amuse themselves instead, bothering the elderly and getting caught up in gangs.

I don't know what bothers me most about all this, the intrusive pointlessness of it all, the obscene waste of money, or the Orwellian progression.

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The unasked question

In the course of interviewing for this piece, I shocked one Children's charity by asking the unaskable: what value would they put on a child's life...especially given the expense and social disruption that this system might cause. Do they genuinely believe that ANY cost is justifiable to save one child's life?

Should they be costed as adults are? Or should different rules apply?

Any thoughts? Genuine interest in how people believe this question can or should be asked...and answered.

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Flame

Reminds me of Niemöller......

"First they wanted CCTV cameras, and I said nothing as I had been scared into it as a victim of crime....

Then they forced an ID card on me, and I took it as I was not able to get served a jar at the pub......

Then they wanted to see my internet traffic, and I let them as I had nothing to hide......

Then they wanted to vet me, and I had to to keep my job.....

I failed the vetting because I surfed for porn, and now have no job, no money, no wife and kids, no internet, no beer, and no privacy......"

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Big Brother

@ Dan10

El Reg hasn't made any of this "soft inteliigence" up:

http://www.isa-gov.org.uk/pdf/GuidanceNotesforBarringDecisionMakingProcessweb.pdf

Sections 4, 5 and 6

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Alert

What a Sly Trick!

"He stressed the minimal burden that the new vetting scheme will impose on the average citizen. However, he agreed that there might be some scope for re-adjusting "the line that separates those situations that should be covered from those that should be excluded".

So he is instructing Sir Roger Singleton, chairman of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), to check the Government has drawn the line in the right place – and to report back by the beginning of December."

The trick here is to respond to the public outcry as if it's really only about where the line is drawn. That's the government choosing the battle it wants, so even if it "loses", it still wins its war. It can retreat to a more "reasonable" position, but it still has its Vetting and Barring Sham, its "Independent" "Safeguarding" Authority. The real battles that need to be fought then get avoided. The government still has its oppressive, Orwellian scheme of disregarding people's innocence "just to be on the safe side" and all that.

Never let your enemy choose the battlefield.

Campaigners, opponents, etc, need to loudly make the point that this isn't just about how many people will be affected by the scheme, but also about the nature of the scheme itself.

For example, a lot of very loud noise needs to be made about how "soft intelligence" is to be used. And when the government and the ISA respond by pointing out that the "soft intelligence" doesn't come from just anybody, but from police, the CRB, and various other authorities, the question needs to be asked, and asked recursively: where do they, in turn, get their "soft intelligence"? Chase it back to the origins, and show how the whole network of authorities acts as a libel laundering operation. Ultimately, the "soft intelligence" does originate from anybody who provides it to any of the relevant authorities the ISA then relies upon. It's practically a formalised system of trial by rumour.

Ed Balls and the ISA need to be called on this. If we let them set the agenda (which is what they're trying to do by focussing on where the line is drawn on whether or not vetting is needed), then they will set the agenda that leaves them winning by default. They must be challenged on the rest of it.

I'm going to have a look at the ISA website to see what interesting things I can find there: http://www.isa-gov.org.uk/

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@john ozimek

I beleve the army had a prive for each solider logicley a child is worth less as they are untrained and under equiped

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Uneasy times

...Create all sorts of idiocy and blatant danger for ordinary people. Sadly the rise and rise of the Great Paedogeddon™ has marked an unstoppable thirst for bad law and tabloid-style mob-handedness.

Still, looking on the bright side, all this protest over the vetting scheme, coupled with a few recent public utterances from the likes of IWF and CEOP have all combined to rid us of a few well rehearsed myths about 'stranger danger' (a complete red herring in and of itself). We now know (because 'the experts' have had to admit it) that the overwhelming majority of sexual abuse against children is committed by adults or others already known to the victims and their families... Roger Singleton (ISA) confirmed that as a known and accepted fact on Ch4 News only last night. Very emphatically.

Which does kinda beg the question - what - or, more specifically, who - is the new vetting scheme for? If we know - and the experts appear to confirm it - that the overwhelming numbers of children sexually assaulted are attacked by adults or others already known to them... I just don't get it. When looked at like this, the new scheme appears to be nothing less than a 'certificate' for every relative, youth worker or family friend to hold up as proof they are not a nonce. If you don't have such a certificate...

I 'regularly' go to stay with a very old friend (who happenes to be Child Protection Officer) and his wife and young son. I have known this friend for over 25 years. His son is just 13. I'm starting to feel very uneasy about my visits. I'm starting to think perhaps I'm gonna need a certificate from the ISA proving my credentials as a non-kiddy-fiddler before I can feel secure about being left alone with the boy. Or perhaps I should just stay away from now on, despite the fact I enjoy a good, healthy relationship with the boy..? How will I know whether or not I'm liable for a 5K fine if I don't get myself 'approved' by a Government list..?

I thought NuLabour said the idea was the create a society 'at ease' with itself..? Did I get that wrong..?

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Silver badge

Re: The unasked question

The price of any life should not be one's own freedom, after all, without freedom what is life worth?

As to whether a child's life is worth more than that of an adult, NO.

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Re: The unasked question

Oh, please do ask that kind of question! Please ask the government, the ISA, etc, etc.

One idea might be to quote Martin Narey, chief executive of Barnado's: "If the vetting and barring scheme stops just one child ending up a victim of a paedophile then it will be worth it." http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/new-checks-unveiled-for-childrens-club-drivers-1785536.html

Then ask whoever you're asking if they agree with that. If they do, ask if it's worth it if the cost is two children's lives in other ways. After all, a cost of £170m has been touted for this scheme (and that's probably not the total cost - 11m times £64 is over £0.7bn). How many children's lives could be saved in other ways if that money was spent in those other ways instead? How many opportunities to save children's lives are being forgone for this Vetting and Barring Scheme? Is it worth it, just to save one, single child from abuse?

Would you really let two children die just to stop one being abused?

This is basically about the Broken Window Fallacy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_broken_window

When accused of trying to reduce the value of a child's life and welfare to just a monetary value, just point out that it's really a matter of comparing a child's life with a child's life, treating all children as being equal. Keep asking: should that £170m be spend saving just one child from abuse, or should it be spent saving more children in a variety of ways?

Pressing the Broken Window angle further, there's also the stuff a lot of people are going on about when it comes to deterring volunteers, lost opportunities to benefit children in various ways as people are put off by Vetting and Barring, as you've already said. I'm beginning to think there could be a lot of mileage in the Broken Window angle.

There's also the question of what sort of future we're building for today's children. Is it worth condemning them to adulthoods spent in some kind of Orwellian nightmare just for the sake of keeping them safe while they're still children and teenagers?

Another approach, if they agree with Martin Narey, is to invite them to publicly call for the installation of State-monitored CCTV in every room of every home. After all, the majority of abuse - sexual and otherwise - takes place in the privacy of the home. Abusers exploit and abuse that domestic privacy to hide the abuse. Such a truly Orwellian extreme might seem, well, extreme, but "if it saves even just one child from abuse..."

When they refuse to support such a scheme (which undoubtedly would stop at least some abuse), ask them why they're taking the side of child abusers. Turn the tables on them. Give them a dose of their own medicine. See how they start pleading for reason, for "striking a balance", etc. Then press them on what they mean by "striking a balance", ask them if they really believe it's acceptable to forego opportunities to stop child abuse in the name of respecting the rights of adults - when it's some of those adults who are abusing those children. Be ruthless!

And if they point out that such intrusive CCTV would deprive the children themselves of privacy? Well, just ask how that's really any different to State intrusion by social workers, the family courts, etc. And don't forget, "nothing to hide, nothing to fear."

Go on, John, give them a taste of their own medicine. Be ruthless, give 'em hell!

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Anonymous Coward

@The unasked question, False dichotomy

I reckon that's a false dichotomy. The rozzer in charge of Soham pointed out:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article6834544.ece

"Retired Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Stevenson said that “no amount of legislation, record keeping or checking” could prevent future murders of children by paedophiles. He accused ministers of creating a state of paranoia after the deaths of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in 2002. "

As I see it, it's all an interconnected system. You can check everyone, but for each angry alienated person you CORRECTLY refuse a job, you'll create 1000 angry alienated people WRONGLY refused a job. Those people have kids and you are destroying people lives based on hysterical irrational fears.

It's not a sliding scale, refuse-more-people-jobs vs more-kids-alive, they may actually be destroying many more lives and creating many more alienated loners by their actions.

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Big Brother

The world gone mad

Ms Appleton adds: "the case worker will examine... 'predisposing factors', such as 'those factors relating to an individual’s interests or drives ... favourite films"

Do you think I should not mention Bugsy Malone in my list of favourite films ?

Heaven help those who have a copy of Lollita and admit to it.

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WTF?

This has to be a wind up?

"the case worker will examine... 'predisposing factors', such as 'those factors relating to an individual’s interests or drives'; 'cognitive factors', such as 'strong anti-social beliefs'; and 'behavioural factors', including 'using substances or sex to cope with stress or impulsive, chaotic or unstable lifestyle. Drug use, sex life, favourite films."

__________________________

So you have some 'case-worker' making a moral judgement on a person's lifestyle - on what basis?

predisposing factors?

cognitive factors?

behavioural factors?

And how in the name of holy f**k are they going to get this information?

What professional qualifications or experience will the 'case worker' have for forming an assessment based on such information?

What is the evidence anyway that the existence of such 'factors' necessarily imply that an individual is a danger to kids or others?

My flabber has been well and truly gasted. I knew this scheme was half-cocked - but this is absolutely unbelievable. The ramifications and implications of this are really quite sinister.

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@John

And what was the answer, John...? For most charities AFAIK the problem is not that there's too few rules already, it's that there's too little effort put into enforcing them. So little Jimmy/Janey gets sent back from the hospital with the abusive father (or mother) who put him/her there in the first place.

Someone further up really nailed it. The problem is that social workers are so overloaded already, they can't deal adequately with the caseloads they've already got. If the government decides to put this scheme in place *and* funnels an extra billion to child welfare services to do the job properly, then great. But if they expect the people already on the ground to implement it with no new money, they're simply deluded.

Because we already have absolute proof that the system is currently only failing because it's under-funded, the answer to "how much is a child's life worth?" is "more than the government is spending right now". And no amount of new legislation or words in Parliament or in print will solve the problem of too few social workers with too many vulnerable children.

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@John Ozimek

I don't know if I could answer that question to be honest. I pasted in your comment and was going to answer it in parts, but found myself contradicting myself. The reason it's such a difficult question to ask (I think) is because people skew it the wrong way, and instead of trying to answer it, try to answer "do you think your own kids are worth more than an adult life" which just blows it right out of the water. If I thought my son was in danger and something could save him, I wouldn't be able to put an upper limit on what I was willing to spend to save him, so is it really fair to put a value on saving other people's childrens' lives?

I fully understand that there has to be a value in order to judge the benefits of a system, but I don't know if I can come up with a good answer as to what it's worth. I guess, personally, I think that all human life should be protected as much as possible, and children have more life in them, so should be protected more (bear in mind I'm just meandering through my thoughts here), but the way I'd probably try and value it would be, would the economic impact of a system damage more lives than it would help? And I guess I'd use the same idea of more life.

So say a child of 6 is saved but a man of 66 is killed, it could be said to be a success. If a child of 10 dies, but two 16 year olds are saved, it's also a tragic success. I think you could say it's a success partially, but continue to strive for perfection, to avoid death at all. Bleh, I really am just rambling now, especially because then I don't know how I would value children who were going to die within a few years.

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Replies

@Chris Arnold

Thanks for confirming what I thought - not very reassuring though!

@John Ozimek

I don't think that's the right question. It's like asking how badly I need food in order to justify battery-farmed chickens - the two are not intrinsically linked, since I choose to buy free-range chicken. A poor analogy perhaps, but the point is that your question assumes that the vetting DB, in it's current intended form, is the only viable way forward.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @John Ozimek

>So say a child of 6 is saved but a man of 66 is killed, it could be said to be a success.

This is one big mistake, you are assuming the child will not grow up to be a serial killer and that the adult has nothing worth living for.

Just consider a 6 year old Adolf Hitler against a 66 year old Oppenheimer* and then tell us if you'd consider the trade off to have been a success. On the other hand there must be many Japanese that would be happy with it.

Life is life, fullstop. Until a life has been lived then you cannot say that one life is worth more than another, or more correctly that one life contributed more than another.

*I know he died at 62 but that is irrelevant to the point of the argument.

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@the unasked question

There are a few hidden assumptions that I reckon proponents of the new scheme will jump to when answering this question.

Firstly, that the proposed system **will** actually save lives

Secondly, that it is the **optimal** system

Thirdly, the scheme brings only positive benefits

Fourthly, no child will be harmed as a result of the implementation of the scheme.

Let's imagine the scenario where someone has to undergo vetting, fails and loses his job. No longer able to afford mortgage payments his house is going to be re-possessed, his marriage is under strain etc etc.

There have been tragic cases where some people snap in these kinds of conditions and end up doing something very bad - like killing their wives and children and then themselves.

So in the interests of saving these lives maybe the scheme should be scrapped?

Isn't saving one child's life worth it?

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Anonymous Coward

How much is a life worth?

From the point of view of government policy, when you don't know anything about the people whose lives may or may not be saved, and there's no high-profile political or emotive issue to distort people's judgement, the answer is about half a million pounds.

So, if there is a proposal for some kind of health screening that will cost X million pounds a year and save Y lives a year, then, if X/Y is much less than 1/2 it will probably be implemented, but if X/Y is much bigger than a 1/2 it will probably be rejected (assuming politicians keep out of it and there is no bribery and corruption, etc).

There is absolutely no way the Vetting Database makes economic sense as a way of saving lives. So maybe it increases the quality of life? No, rather the opposite, in fact.

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Personal vs. State Value

Interesting...guess the question of a life value instantly deconstructs into what value do you place personally on your child - say if they had a life-threatening illness, how much of your own life/resource/money would you sink towards trying to cure them.... would you go into bankruptcy, f'rinstance...or are there some hard-hearted souls out there who would say this far - and no further?

Then there is the value a state imposes.

The end cost of the vetting base is likely to be near £1 billion.

If it saves just one child's life, is that worth it (as Martin Narey of Barnardo's seems to think)....

...how many respirators, ICU's, etc., etc. could we buy for that money. Basically, what we spend is not an absolute, but a trade-off...and I think maybe the question boils down to what PREMUM would we spend to save a child's life over any other.

Or how much would we take away from other services in order to preserve a child.

A wholly neutral policy would say... every adult is worth spending up to £900k for (a figure close to that used for Transport)...and the same figure would apply to children.

On that basis, the Vetting Base would need to save something like 1100 lives to be worth putting up. But for other purposes, we use higher values. Maybe we say £500k for an OAP... £1m for an adult and...£2 m for a child?

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Anonymous Coward

It may not be the 'intention' but let's see what the result will be

Anonymous Coward Posted Tuesday 15th September 2009 10:55 GMT has it spot on, if you don't like a teacher or the decision the ref made in your sons football match, just start the rumour and the ISA will do the rest.

The ISA will also reduce the number of real abusers are take to court. If one of the key purposes of the crimial justice system is to prevent the perpitrator from doing harm then the ISA is a simple and effective way of doing this without the need of pesky issues like: evidence, trial, jury, judge, rehab, treatment, parole and reintegration into sociaty (in the utopian view of our justice system of course)

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Anonymous Coward

@How much is a life worth?... half a million pounds.

I think the problem is the currency used, you say half a million pounds, but I think it should be measured in one of two currencies:

1. About 100 votes.

2. About 1 favourable newspaper headline

Lets not kid ourselves that this was intended as anything but a way to turn bad headlines into good ones. It's backfired sure, but that's because they has piss poor judgement, and couldn't resist the urge to turn a background check into a 'good-citizen-as-defined-by-a-NuLabour-nanny' check.

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Megaphone

Rights of Busybodies

In one of the Convention on Modern Liberty videos, Tony Benn said something that, for me, really captured an essential part of liberty: "People said, 'Who gave him the right to do that to me?'"

http://www.modernliberty.net/what/who/videos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzITwU3Px2k

I think an essential part of why so many people have such a dislike for these kinds of authoritarian schemes is that it comes down to an essential inequality of rights. For example, what right does the busybody have to decide what's in the best interests of the child that the parents themselves don't have? Who has the right to give those busybodies such rights, and, in doing so, to deny the parents themselves those same rights? If the parents themselves don't have those rights, who else does?

As I understand it, an essential concept - if not the central, fundamental concept - in liberal democracy (or democratic liberalism, or whatever you want to call it,) is the idea that as each individual will naturally, and rightly, object to this kind of authoritarian hypocrisy, the majority of individuals will therefore democratically oppose authoritarianism in favour of true liberty.

When we're talking about this Vetting and Barring Scam/Sham/Scandal, we're talking about bureaucrats (or whatever they want to call them) exercising rights to decide that others are therefore denied. Who gives them the right to decide who is and is not fit to work with children and vulnerable adults? Supposedly, we, the people, do, through parliament - so it goes back to the sham of "democracy" that the government relies on for its claimed democratic legitimacy. (I still remember, in the early years of this New Labour government, Labour ministers claiming to be doing the "will of the people" as a justification for ramming their legislation through parliament.)

What people need to realise, as Apocalypse Later pointed out, is that when people call for other people to be subjected to vetting, it's not just other people who will be subjected to it, but the people calling for it as well. Apocalypse Later said, "There are no other people, just us." Putting it another way, we're all other people. There's no "them and us": we're all "them"; "they" are us.

What people need to realise is that when they call for what amounts to the abolition of the rights of innocent people to be treated as innocent - that's what the presumption of innocence essentially is - it's their own rights to be treated as innocent that they're calling to have abolished. It should be no surprise when, as Apocalypse Later explained, they find that they themselves are being treated with suspicion, prejudged "just to be on the safe side", and so on.

We need to cultivate a culture, in our society, of stopping and thinking of ourselves as being the targets of what we're calling for. When we want people to be presumed guilty, "just to err on the side of caution, for the sake of the children," we need to stop and think about how we ourselves will find it when we're being presumed guilty.

(This is also a tremendous opportunity for the Lib Dems to evangelise, to spread the Lib Dem message of liberal democracy. I hope they don't waste it!)

So, when and where are the public protests to begin?

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Anonymous Coward

I <3 you

"The origins of the vetting database lie in the perceived need to prevent "another Ian Huntley"."

This particular bit never gets coverage anywhere and when asked the lying basterds have the audacity to say that it will.

As to the "is it worth it"

I suspect that the billions that shall be spent as years roll by would have been better invested in improved social care and awareness training in industries closely related to children. Spotting the early signs of abuse would be far more helpful then hopping you've blocked all the bad people.

The idea that sexual preferences are taken into account isn't new they've been wanting to ban people they view as perverted from working with normal people for sometime (which makes me laugh if you've ever met mental health care nurses, those guys are freaky awsome lol.)

All another database will do is drain money on magic beans creating the illusion of safety where none exists and reinforcing the idea that there is a massive problem where there is not. The lies from government and vested interest groups is amazing (especially in relation to the Huntley case) and the fact that most Journalists are such sock puppets they don't pull them up on the blatent lies.

Amazing, but as I've said society is broken, and this is just another example of how were breaking it even more. No trust without a badge.

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So, no musicians cleared then ?

So that means that no musicians will be cleared then ?

After all:

Sex

Drugs

Rock-and-Roll

Three-time losers ?

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Anonymous Coward

@It may not be the 'intention' but let's see what the result will be

"If one of the key purposes of the crimial justice system is to prevent the perpitrator from doing harm then "

I prefered it when the criminal justice system was about convicting and punishing criminals and it was the local communities job to make life nice for other members of the community.

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Joke

about £4.50/ lb

double if it's organic.

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Black Helicopters

@AC, "This is a load of BS"

"... what difference does it make if I prefer Psycho to Snow WHite?!?!"

Well, if they're vetting for both killers and kiddie-fiddlers, I guess either of those would flag you up - and having both on your list? Instant "regulation"!

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The quickest way,

I suspect, to kill off this nonsense is to start challenging those wonderful people who are members of ACPO on how many policepersons in their respective forces have been cleared. In parallel, I'm sure that there must be many who wold be only too willing to volunteer soft intelligence about their least favorite coppers - it doesn't have to be based in fact, rumour is sufficient to thin the ranks to a miniscule blue line.

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FAIL

Thank god for the meja

They (the meja) might have got us into this mess but now they are pressing ministers and the ISA about this bollocks scheme and the result is rapid backtracking. I have a crb check - it's rubbish and when you pin people down about it everyone agrees. All is says is that no criminal record is held but the applicant. The result is that the CRB check in itself becomes a stamp of approval and eyes are probably taken off the ball so to speak, as a result. When I entered youth work 30 years ago I believe that there was a cursary police check undertaken, however as a team we checked each other put our own boundaries in place. It seemed very effective to me.

The ISA is going to be a collosal failure. It will criminalise many people for not being compliant or blight them when the get barred for something of little consequence. It will not protect children, indeed it will end up having the opposite effect. Adults will AVOID children who will probably at worst end up with little contact with well meaning adult role models. What they will get is what they get now... professional - arms length intervention and procedure based relationships. These kids will grow up well and truly fucked!!

BTW I know this because my job brings me in contact with public sector staff who work with children and young people. They really go for this dogma, they love it. the number of times 'safeguarding' is mentioned per sentance with this lot is unbelievable. but hey,,,, another useful meeting/training event to attend to review safeguarding strategy or to training about partnership working for child protection to get through the week?

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Silver badge
FAIL

Enormous damage for zero result

"'cognitive factors', such as 'strong anti-social beliefs'" - So anyone who objects to this scheme will fail.

"chaotic or unstable lifestyle" - We only want teachers who have never done anything else but be teachers. We definitely don't want anyone with lots of experience of life.

Huge numbers of false positives, people kicked out of jobs or denied them for no reason.

And no effect whatever on what it was designed to prevent. If someone has a driving urge to attack children, removing the easy options to get at them is not going to do anything more than slow them slightly while they look for another route. Unless you keep every child locked up all the time, someone driven and determined will always be able to get to some child somewhere.

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