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back to article Home Office shifts feet as vetting database looms

With just one month to go before the new vetting database goes live, the public appear finally to be waking up to the threat to civil liberties implied – and they are not happy. Well, Home Office... we did warn you. It was just over a year ago that we did, in fact. Although the scale of the disaster about to hit the buffers is …

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FAIL

@Tom 15

No idea what you're smoking there. If you have a new system that replaces an old one, then you usually switch off the old one when the new one goes live. Otherwise you're doing double entry, with increased chances of mis-synchronising the data (and one system or the other will be producing false data).

Yes, common sense needs to be applied, and common sense says this new database should never be implemented ("soft intelligence" used to deny people jobs? That really is like a story from old Soviet Russia where someone ratted to the KGB, and you found your life screwed. No evidence, no comeback, apart from maybe a tribunal that looks through text you're not allowed to see from someone you're not allowed to know about, who in the end says "It sticks as is").

What is needed is scientific planning, and a proof that this will do what it intends. however, speaking as someone who vets and runs medical databases, I can guarantee you that this does not meet those critera The processes in place are hopelessly inadequate, and the "Signal to noise" ration is huge. However, the "noise" component is sufficient to wreck your life.

As for things being used with more common sense. CCTV and tracking people's bin habits, which school they go to an other spying? Anti terror laws used to detain people who want to take photos in a street?

No, this will inevitably lead to abuse. Very serious abuse. People are people, and there are always the nasty ones that are attracted to power just to play with people, and what better lure than this? When malicious gossip lets you ruin a life, then the bitter twisted people win; there is NO pressure to be 'good' in this action (or indeed, scope for it either). There is only a win if you're a malicious gossip that doesn't like other people, so you get to make them miserable.

To cure the ills that this was conceived to address, better linking of police systems would have done the trick (called "Fixing the working and trusted system"), not implementing something that doesn't address anything really, or help in any calculable way ("commonly called 'The MD has beent taken out to lunch and shown some shiny brocures of shiny things'"). There is no scientific merit in this system. And the thing with common sense is that it's not very common.. Especially amongst politicians that seem to bandy it around at the moment (they're very much of the type a few hundred years ago that said "The earth is flat. The Sun revolves around the Earth.. It's common sense, and everyone knows it.. You disagree, so you need to be punished, jailed and branded a heretic. Maybe burned at the stake too, as that would be common sense.").

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What Humphries didn't ask

was what will get you barred from taking a car full of kids to football training?

A conviction for drink driving 5 years ago?

A caution for posession of cannabis 10 years ago?

An acquittal for domestic violence?

A groundless allegation from when you taught in the 80s?

If the ISA is anything like the CRB in "erring on the side of caution" my guess is any of the above.

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WTF?

RE:the problem is.

See Icon.

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Anonymous Coward

I refused an ISA check and am now a 'pedophile'

My company is quite laudably trying to improve its contribution to the local community by supporting a reading programme in local schools. This involves employees spending a few hours every month at local schools helping children with reading difficulties.

I thought this was a great idea and volunteered to help. However I subsequently found out that it was assumed that I am a pedophile and that I must submit myself to a check from the ISA. I take my privacy very seriously and don't want to be subjected to an ISA check. I have nothing to hide, I have no criminal convictions and no allegations have ever been made about me, I simply don't agree to being treated like a potential child molester. As a result, I decided to withdraw from the programme.

Wouldn't you know it, I have now become aware of a nasty rumour in my workplace that 'some people' have been 'scared off' from helping out in the reading programme because they are afraid of being vetted. This is exactly the kind of divisive behaviour that the ISA check breeds. I, along with a number of other people have essentially been accused of being child molesters because we have not agreed to subject ourselves to this 'test'. It reminds me of medieval witch trials.

Some of the posters above have said that this kind of thing is the future - believe me, it is very much the present and will only get worse.

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Flame

What will happen now?

I expect that a large number of voluntary organisations will shut their doors to non-adults (under 18) because of the financial cost and cost to their member's privacy of complying with the new rules.

I expect that a number of people will refuse to be vetted (or at least will refuse to complete a form that intrudes on their privacy), and will therefore cease to be able to support voluntary activities involving children. It's very likely that these organisations will then end up closing their doors, as they'll no longer have sufficient manpower to continue.

The end result will be children loitering on street corners for lack of anything else to do, falling into the clutches of criminal gangs and sexual perverts. This will cost uncounted children their innocensce or their very lives. But this may not be the worst of it.

Several branches of my extended family are today extinct, because the information voluntarily provided in the years 1890-1920 made it so very easy for the Nazis to organise their genocide in 1940. That genocide included the children. A worse form of child abuse is impossible to imagine.

You have been warned. Those who fail to learn the lessons of history, are doomed to re-live them. I just hope, not in my lifetime, but I fear for future generations. Once the data is collected, it will never be un-collected.

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Anonymous Coward

Having screwed the economy, what can Govt. screw up next...

I'm afraid this is probably going to win the "longest posting" prize...

There are over 3000 comments on BBC's "Have your Say" website following Friday's Radio 4 "Today" story about the ISA Vetting and Barring Scheme, most disagree with the scheme.

It which seems in many respects just to be an extension of CRB, a third level of checking, less detailed then the two levels of CRB.

I had a CRB check in order to work as a volunteer with teenagers (actually ECRB, the enhanced version which includes "soft" evidence which can be hearsay and unsubstantiated opinion). I was cleared and have been doing that work for a few years, however I have a substantial list of concerns:

In my opinion CRB is nothing more or less than a scam to that was set up give some of Blair's buddies (Capita CEO, Labour party donor) cozy jobs and to create the impression that the Government was "doing something".

The CRB is not transferrable. A friend applying for teaching jobs needed a new check for each job.

Similarly if I moved to a different youth group I'd need a repeat CRB check.

They have an unacceptable "error rate" - but we only get to hear about the errors which disadvantage the applicant, if there's an error passing someone as OK who shouldn't be, who will ever know? Is the applicant going to complain? No, they're teaching your kids.

There is no "recall" process so a woman who gets a paedophile conviction the day after getting the CRB cleared is looking after your kids.

I have heard that most offences (92%?) against children are committed by family members and close family friends - they aren't subject to CRB/ISA checks (yet?).

The check only discovers evidence that is on record. Personally I'd regard as potentially unsuitable to work with children someone who pays for photos of scantily clad young ladies as featured in some of our less reputable newspapers.

As a parent I cannot obtain a CRB check for an uncle, nanny or babysitter so the law is unconcerned about one of the highest risk situations: leaving a sole child alone with a sole carer, no third party to intervene or report inappropriate behaviour.

I don't like being "presumed guilty until proved innocent" but in any case the CRB check doesn't prove anything but that the applicant has never been CAUGHT doing anything that might appear on their record. I don't care if a government minister tells me otherwise, he may as well tell me the moon is made of cheese, I feel there's a presumption of guilt and that was enhanced when I started as a volunteer. For the several weeks wait for the CRB check to be completed I was not allowed to work with the kids - what clearer "presumption of guilt" could there be?

Defenders of the system say "it doesn't deter volunteers". That's just not true. When I signed up as a volunteer I did so before I was advised that there would be a CRB check, not really being fully aware of the scheme. Had I been told that before making the committment I would not have offered my services. I suspect there are many people who have something on their Police record, not material to the role they are seeking and yet which they'd prefer not to be brought to the attention of their future supervisor (smoking a joint or a motoring offence when much younger). I think a police warning for drunken behaviour when one was at university would appear on the ECRB check. How that would be interpreted - would it bar the applicant from working with kids? Either way I guess the applicant would be embarrassed to have that information disclosed and so would be deterred. I'm told there's already a shortage of volunteers for tasks such as Scout/Guide leaders. Scouts have a waiting list of 30,000 youngsters not able to join because there aren't enough adults to look after them.

I think the effect of CRB checks is damaging to kids. The fee is a drain on the resources of volunteer organisations - money that should be being spent on enrichment activities for kids.

Where do kids from disfunctional families find their role models? The entire community has a role to play in raising kids. CRB just constitutes a further obstacle. I can't ask a parent to help out by transporting a bunch of kids because that will involve getting a CRB check and, yes, some checks may only take a few days but others can take many weeks or months. Kids organisations have a high turnover, some kids join and find it's not for them. Parent volunteers are unlikely to stick around if their kids have quit.

Extending the number of adults children are involved with in one way or another is an essential part of their upbringing and safety. In my organisation we are aware that some kids come from difficult backgrounds and we are alert to the need to take appropriate action if we have any concerns. The more such different environments kids are involved with the greater the chance that a third party will identify a concern and that there will be an adult the kid feels able to approach with their concerns.

It's interesting that the story comes in the same week as the conviction of two young Doncaster boys for the horrific acts of violence committed against two other boys. CRB checks did nothing to help those victims. One result of the CRB system is to increase youth disaffection leading to more such disfunctional kids. If those offending boys had some more interesting options to fill their empty days than hanging around on street corners looking for weaker kids to rob maybe things would have been different. Contact with more adults might result in the difficult behaviours being identified and a remedial response being initiatiated.

In fact ISA/CRB is in some respects a cover-up for the failure of social services to address the REAL risks to kids: bad parenting. How stupid to respond to that by further restricting those kids' involvement with other potential figures of authority, support, role models and often experienced parents that do have parenting skills.

Judging from press coverage the decisions to implement both the CRB and the new ISA Vetting and Barring Scheme scheme have been based on anecdotes, "expert opinion", and government's need to be seen to be doing something (while afraid to tackle the issue of problem parents). There are some dodgy statistics being thrown around: "In a survey 91% of adults agreed that people working with kids should be vetted" is represented as meaning "CRB checks don't deter volunteers" (and we all know that survey results are easily manipulated by the phrasing and context of the questions and the make up and size of the group surveyed).

What are the figures for child abuse cases before and since introduction of CRB? - in particular if those statistics are broken down by type of offender into: child on child, family and close friends, and the collection of groups which may fall into CRB check territory such as teachers, youth workers, sports coaches, ministers of religion.

Also, what has been the change in offences committed by youngsters?

By the way, when a kid in our group reaches 18 she needs a CRB or has to leave (they can stay till 21). After 18 she cannot share a tent with a kid under 18. On the other hand the two Doncaster boys were about 11 so no problem if one of them wants to share a tent with your kid...

One response to negative comments about CRB/ISA has been "If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. So why do the police need a search warrant, why can't they just come to my house whenever they please and search my private papers, my computer. Suppose they found an illegally downloaded music track - better report that to the PRS - and a dodgy copy of a movie on DVD? They guy's clearly a crook...

No material evidence? while they're here why not strap me to a lie detector and show me some porn, sweaty skin or a change in brain activity means I'm stimulated and so I must be a pervert. By saying in defence of CRB/ISA "if I've nothing to hide I've nothing to fear..." you smear me, I have nothing to hide but my privacy, I have something to fear, a police state.

Would a different political party take a different view? I doubt any would have the courage to face the storm of indignant protest from the mollycoddling brigade. They'd be branded as "friends of the paedoes". The best we can hope for is to give youth groups the OPTION of requiring CRB/ISA checks and require that parents are advised of the organisation's policies.

I'd quite like to see a government that manages the economy on a sound basis and whose members don't fiddle their expenses. Maybe if they didn't spend their time trying (and failing) to micro-manage every aspect of every citizens llife they'd have time to focus on the economy.

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Happy

Transport next?

Remember that if only one child is saved then it will all be worth while. (they say to justify yet another database)

Next will be motorists (how many lives could be saved there?)

Then aeroplanes and trains etc.

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Silver badge

Jobseekers allowance

Depending on how many people fail the test (for whatever reason - usually irrelevant), the government is going to have to cough up a lot of money in jobseekers allowance, as more and more of the populace becomes unemployable because of this stuff.

Let's say 10 times the current figure.

That's going to cost a lot.

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FAIL

DDA vs ISA

@Nigel 11

"I expect that a large number of voluntary organisations will shut their doors to non-adults (under 18) because of the financial cost and cost to their member's privacy of complying with the new rules."

At our local cycling club we are likely to be in the situation where we have to ban disabled riders (a 'vulnerable group') for the same reason. Oh wait, DDA says we're not allowed to do that...

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Stop

@Neoc @Nigel 11 AC@09:12

@Neoc

Sounds a nice system but you've missed a few points about the British system.

It's meant to regulate *all* interactions. Not just professionals in specific fields. The Government admit to likely covering >11m people (Reg estimates 14-16m) which I think is greater than the whole population of Aus.

It has little to do with safeguarding people and a lot to do with populating another huge database for some civil servants data collection fetish.

@Nigel 11

"Several branches of my extended family are today extinct, because the information voluntarily provided in the years 1890-1920 made it so very easy for the Nazis to organise their genocide in 1940. "

IBM Germany provided that particular "Solution." You might care to check whose running this one.

"Once the data is collected, it will never be un-collected."

Exactly. Even if you trust the presnet administration, can you trust all future ones as well?

AC@09:12

"Wouldn't you know it, I have now become aware of a nasty rumour in my workplace that 'some people' have been 'scared off' from helping out in the reading programme because they are afraid of being vetted. "

And so it begins. Welcome to the future.

Anything to hide. Yes, your privacy.

Anything to fear. Yes, a police state of power crazed unelected jobsworths.

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FAIL

Welcome to the nanny state

This has just reminded me of a change I need to make to recruitment policy on the volunteer radio station I run, over 18s only from now on. I've been through a number of CRB checks before, but with these increased requirements, although I'm sure I'll pass no problem, they step over the line, invading my privacy just a little bit too much. I also won't be volunteering for anything involving children in future due to this.

As others have said, I see a number of volunteer groups going to the wall if UK.gov keep going with these plans and little gain from them.

Fail icon, because that's what the current gov do best

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Anonymous Coward

It's dumb

I help out at a club and I am about to arrange *another* round of CRB checks for everyone as the law is, frankly, an ass and our governing body and council do not help matters one bit. Anyway....

The situation we have is this. *ANY* adult with the kids must be checked. If that adult is the child's parent, it makes no odds. They *MUST* be checked. So to remain with their kids, all the parents have to go through these checks if want to come to the club. If they don't have these checks, then we are in breach.

Of course, this only applies to the club and it is perfectly OK for us to return the kids to the same adults (kiddy fiddlers or no) at the end the session without any checks; as it is then not part of the club. It's nuts and does nothing to improve child safety.

And that raises another question - does child safety even need to be improved? Is the situation from predators (who are usually relatives) any worse now? Or is it just the mee-ja whipping up another storm to sell their rot?

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Big Brother

Yet another step towards an Orwellian Police State society...

For a start, its not actually a protective database because its instead a database to protect other children *after* some have already been attacked, to then hopefully stop other public attacks. In this case, prison would be a far more effective form of protection than any database. Plus this database also fails to protect the vast majority of children in danger at home from the minority of parents who are the abusers. The database can only reduce (but doesn't stop) the chances of *high profile* attacks in public, which are the minority of attacks. (Thats a political goal as they want it to appear to us all as if they are stopping the attacks). So this database stops a small percentage of the attacks and completely fails to protect the vast majority at risk. Plus it then places yet another level of control over us all with many scary ways to quietly allow ever more government feature creep to make it even worse. So it doesn't work as they intend (or say) and on top of that it allows ever more government data gathering.

Simon 40: "NuLabour are trying to establish stink of a common architect, an architect who wants to control." ... The problem is once NuLabour are thrown out, the conservatives are very likely to just keep using what NuLabour have setup to maintain control. They can then blame any negative press on NuLabour. This is because all politicians regardless of which party they are in, are at their core, people who seek political power over others and ever improving technology gives ever increasing power to control people, because knowledge as we all know is power. Plus in seeking power they by definition seek to be the people who make the choices for others, but that also means as their power increases, everyone else looses ever more freedom and technology is continuing to increase and so their power is increasing. After all, the act of seeking power over others, is also the act of seeking to deprive others of the power to choose for themselves, as the power seekers want to be the ones who make the choices for everyone (and then they personally gain from having power over others and their personal gain is increasing as we loose freedom). Also if they fail to seek power at every opportunity in the highly competitive environment of politics, then other politicians will out maneuver them and gain power over them, so they are locked in an endless struggle for ever more power and so the most power driven politicians inevitably fight to get to the highest jobs with the most power to control us all. Therefore all politicians regardless of party, all ultimately seek to control us all. (If they don't others throw them out who do want power).

So combine their ever present need to control to gain power over others with ever improving technology, (such as improving research in data mining) and we get an overall trend towards a world where the people in power (in every country) are gaining ever greater power to monitor, manipulate, punish and control the lives of us all. That also means any mistakes they make have increasing potential to cause increasing harm to people. For example, imagine the damage that could be caused by someone accidentally being put on this database. Plus that is before you add in government feature creep where ever more reasons to monitor people will be added to ever more databases opening up the data to ever more people. Plus "accidentally" placing a political opponent on this database is a very powerful way to totally destroy them and even after they fight to clear their name the damage has been done and they have been stopped from being an political opponent. With ever improving technology the 1998 film "Enemy of the State" is starting to look like a documentary.

Plus if that isn't bad enough, it will continue to get ever worse, because information technology will continue to improve and the relentless power seekers (in every party, in every country) will continue to fight each other to gain ever more ways to win control over us all and in doing so, all the time our remaining freedom is slowly being destroyed. Sooner or later such an unfair control would normally trigger a full scale revolution in previous centuries, but now with ever improving technology to spy on us all, they will be able to silence and punish ever more. So as time passes the book 1984 starts to look ever more like a documentary as well. :(

Plus if all that isn't scary enough, people with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder have a competitive advantage in fighting for power over others, as their self centered attitude gives them a competitive advantage in the highly competitive environment of politics. Which sadly also explains why they so often fail to see they are wrong and why they fail to show empathy towards others.

So it sadly looks like we have all the ingredients we need to force us all into some very scary times ahead. :(

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Headmaster

What If?... A Different Approach

Ian Huntley invited Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman into his house when they passed by.

What if they'd said, "No, thanks. We're not allowed into other people's homes without our parents' permission"? What if they'd simply declined to enter his house?

They'd still be alive today, wouldn't they?

This Vetting and Barring Scam simply wouldn't have saved them. Maybe Huntley wouldn't have been a caretaker (at another school), but he could still have shared a house with Maxine Carr. He could still have invited those two girls into his house. He could still have murdered them.

But if those two girls had been taught not to go into other people's houses without their own parents' permission, and if they'd actually done as taught, they'd almost certainly still be alive.

When I was young, Charlie said, "Never go with strangers": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86X30SxMczA

A far better approach - not perfect, but far better than this evil Big Brother nonsense - is to do a proper job of educating children regarding the dangers posed by would-be child molesters, murderers, and the like. (For a government obsessed with sending messages, "PR" propaganda, etc, I would have thought this would be obvious?)

Firstly, proper education will help children keep themselves out of danger. Shouldn't that be a basic part of a child's upbringing anyway? Shouldn't that already be one of the most basic parts of education? Teach them - repeatedly - not to go with strangers, not to go off with familiar people in unfamiliar contexts, etc, and there will be fewer opportunities for those who would harm children to do so.

Secondly - and this is perhaps more important - if children are brought up and educated about abuse and the need to report it, then those who would abuse them face greater risks of getting caught as a result. If children are repeatedly taught about what the signs of abuse are, how to report it, who to report it to, and so on, then the very children who would be abused themselves become the deterrent. Such education needs to be ongoing, since abusers will seek to adapt, but if abusers know they face the very real risk of the children themselves blowing the whistle, it will deter at least some of the abusers, and stop at least some of the abuse.

It also means more abuse gets reported, more abuse gets investigated, more abusers get stopped. Even if an abuser isn't convicted, such investigation may be enough to deter them in future.

Ultimately, because of how child abuse works, it will always be the children themselves who will be on the front line against child abuse. That might be frightening, disgusting, etc, but it's the abusers themselves who make sure that that's how it is. It's simply a part of the abuse itself that the children themselves are ultimately on the front line. That's why it's absolutely essential that children be adequately prepared, adequately educated, on how to deal with such abuse, actual and potential.

Education, education, education.

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Anonymous Coward

By the way...

Anon wrote: Education, education, education.

How true, but did you know that Bliar didn't originate that phrase it is a rough translation from Lenin.

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Anonymous Coward

OK - I givin - who is NuLabour?

They certainly do not seem to be from this part of the Western hemisphere. More the old Russian block - control the people -control the masses and those in high power reap the benefits.

In future no more elections for the common people because those in power know what's best!

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There has to be **some** system

I don't think many would disagree with the principle that there should be some check made on those who have frequent contact with children. As a parent I'd like to have some measure of assurance in the people my kids interact with.

But it seems to me that it's actually quite a difficult thing to get right, and despite my deep misgivings about the current vetting schemes in the UK, I'm not sure I have a better, or more effective proposal.

What seems to be lacking in the discussions I've seen, and that's not a criticism of the comments on here by the way, is evidence. What is the extent of the problem? Just how much at risk are our kids under the old system? How does the new system mitigate that risk?

The current scheme seems like a bit of a sledgehammer cracking a nut. I know the media have turned us into a paranoid society where pervy men lurk round every corner just waiting to abduct and abuse our children - but just how accurate is this perception? Not very, I would suggest.

And that's the problem - these measures seem more designed to lower the **perception** of risk without doing very much to lower the **actual** risk.

Just because someone has a criminal record does this make them a danger to our kids? Doesn't it rather depend on the nature of their previous offence or offences? So whilst an employer might well baulk at employing someone who, as a youth, was nicked for a spot of burglary, does this automatically mean that they are a danger to kids?

It seems that the CRB system and the enhanced system for protection of our kids are quite different and with quite different purposes. Maybe I've misunderstood the proposals, but it seems that the enhanced checks are not particularly well targetted.

And as for the inclusion of hearsay and allegation - well the mind just boggles. What moron thought that this was a good idea? I despair at times.

So yes - let's have a vetting system by all means - but for heaven's sake, the crude scattergun approach that will be implemented is just plain idiocy. Our kids deserve better than the current set of blithering idiots that seem to be running our country. But some of these people are not stupid - far from it - which does make me wonder about hidden agendas here, and I'm not normally one given to conspiracy-style reasoning.

We need some system of vetting, but it has to be reasonable, proportionate, targetted, and efficient. I'm pretty sure, given the evidence and requirements, most of the folk who read El Reg could come up with a better system than the government is going ahead with.

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Soft Intelligence

Soft intelligence is the real danger lurking in this one.

I once had a key role in the running of two youth clubs catering for ages 5 - 12 and 13 - 18. Very successfully.

Was then entirely falsely accused (by the local school) of abusing one of my children by starving him. I rapidly discovered how the "Child Protection" system works with the same "professionals" acting as accusers, prosecution, judge, jury and executive agency and with "soft intelligence" acquiring the same status as "fact" when laundered through a "professional" and becoming "a professional opinion." I have in my possession a letter from the BMA stating that a doctor who gave an untruthful communication to prosecution authorities did nothing wrong. A teacher who was witnessed actually dragging the said child along the floor by his feet, head stotting off the floor was judged to have done nothing actionable.

To cut a long story short, the case collapsed when the child was diagnosed with coeliac disease. Two teachers were moved to other schools. One school nurse was moved elsewhere. The (acting senior) social worker (in his late 50s) is no longer a social worker of any variety and was last seen working as a labourer to a double glazing fitter. The lying police officer at the heart of the case is no longer in child protection work. The senior paediatrician involved (based at a hospital where the records of the child concerned had been illicitly removed from the Records Office for a time and had been mysteriously tampered with -- easily confirmed by comparison with duplicate copies retrieved from other agencies under Data Protection legislation) and the Community Paediatrician have gone away to New Zealand. An untruthful GP and an untruthful Chief Constable, however, have got off the hook.

And of course the Child was removed from the Child Protection Register when they realised the game was up. But not one of the culprits has admitted wrongdoing in any way, shape or form.

And the bottom line is that the allegation still has not been withdrawn and stands on the Education, Social Work, Police and Medical records. Indeed, it's been trotted out again in an application for guardianship involving a mentally-handicapped relative.

The Youth Clubs? I suspended them as soon as the allegations were made against me. And no, I haven't restarted them. The kids in the community have no youth clubs now. Who'd risk running them?

Co-operate with the police now? Far too risky -- better to steer clear of them at all costs.

And what if I hadn't been one of the articulate middle class well able to call on support of a very telling variety? Where would I be -- yet another innocent behind bars?

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There has to be some system ??

I know the media have turned us into a paranoid society where pervy men lurk round every corner just waiting to abduct and abuse our children - but just how accurate is this perception? Not very, I would suggest.

And that's the problem - these measures seem more designed to lower the **perception** of risk without doing very much to lower the **actual** risk.

Bumbling Fool wrote

"I know the media have turned us into a paranoid society where pervy men lurk round every corner just waiting to abduct and abuse our children - but just how accurate is this perception? Not very, I would suggest."

You're probably right, but remember that abuse is carried out by women as well -- it may take slightly different forms and it's certainly politically incorrect to allege it, but that doesn't stop the reality, as my own family has (sadly) good reason to know.

Bumbling Fool also wrote

"And as for the inclusion of hearsay and allegation - well the mind just boggles. What moron thought that this was a good idea? "

Sadly, nothing new about that. That's the way the current "Child Protection" system works. No legal standard of proof required and hearsay acquires a status equal to fact when it becomes "professional opinion" on being laundered through a professional at a meeting of agencies.

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Anonymous Coward

Opus Dei - Original Sin

Worst Part is #

By Paul 87 Posted Sunday 13th September 2009 11:14 GMT

The government is basically saying that in fact people are inherantly guilty until proven innocent. I haven't heard that line since RE class was teaching the concept of Original Sin...

Nail -> Head

The catholics have taken over the asylum

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Soham

The tired comment of "this would have prevented Soham".

How, exactly ? Huntley didn't work at the girls' school, he worked at another one (this fact is irrelevant, as he didn't attack a child from the school he was working at). Huntley's girl-friend worked at the school with the girls, which is where the contact came from.

She would have passed an eCRB check.

I've not checked, but are church based groups included in requiring checks ? Choir, Sunday school etc ?

I mean, thats a group that, as a whole, have more paedophile convictions and controversy than any other.

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Anonymous Coward

Rocking horse nursery

In the news currently because some kids acquired fractured bones and an allegation of sexual assault. Staff there must have all been CRB checked, further evidence that the system doesn't work.

BTW lots of misunderstandings about the ISA. I believe the aim has some merit. It does address some of the shortcomings of CRB and builds on that. The real problem is not the ISA but the underlying CRB check on which it depends.

This is my understanding (may not be 100% right).

An ISA costs £64, that's comprised of a £28 fee to cover the new ISA cost and £36 to cover the CRB costs. (So the "free for volunteers" seems to relate only to the £28 ISA element).

The first time an ISA is applied for the Independent Safeguarding Authority apply for a CRB check for that individual. The ISA use that to give a "pass/fail" result but do not disclose any of the CRB information to the employer.

Therafter the ISA database is kept up to date. Any new information that comes to light about someone on the register may result in their removal and anyone who is recorded as employing that person is advised of their changed status.

This does address some of the problems with CRB (e.g. disclosure of irrelevant unnecessary and possibly intrusive personal information to employers. CRBs failure to provide updates should an individual's status change.)

What it fails to address is:

That most offences have always been by close friends and family.

Persons with CRB checks are still capable of misdemeanours (e.g. Rocking Horse nursery).

The underlying CRB check is still required and sometimes take weeks during which time individuals are unable to work in their chosen job, economically damaging to them personally and the uncertainty creates an organisational nightmare for a prospective employer.

The CRB/ISA process places an assumption of guilt on all of us and innocence is unprovable, all the check can show is that there is nothing on record. I have heard people denying that there is an assumption of guilt but were that true applicants would be allowed to work with kids while awaiting CRB clearance.

Malicious unfounded smears may be recorded, reported on CRB and treated as fact. If you dispute a recorded allegation you have a right not for it to be struck off but to add your own statement in respect of the allegation.

There is a "quality control" problem with CRB, last year 1500 people were incorrectly identified as representing a risk. (And who will ever know how many people were cleared but should not have been, they probably didn't complain!).

The case that started this all off, Huntley in Soham would not have been prevented had he been identified by CRB as unsuitable to work with kids. The murders were in a domestic property, the victims were not pupils at the school where he worked.

Some mixed age clubs and societies will solve the problem simply by closing their doors to under 18s.

Some organisations heavily dependent on volunteers will cease to operate. I spoke to one

today who said they didn't want the additional overhead, they felt it was intrusive to ask their volunteers to participate and that even if they did some had already indicated unwillingness.

The volunteers in that organisation are mostly well-heeled upper middle class middle-aged housewives. I would be utterly astonished if their reluctance to subject themselves to CRB was to hide guilty secrets!

The analogy I would draw is this:

When you go on a flight you are subject to a level of checking at the airport. This is for our own safety and we accept it. There remains a significant level of risk. For example, the fluids we are no longer allowed in our hand luggage could be concealed in "body cavities" so it would be in the interests of our own safety to submit to a full body strip search with the "rubber glove" test. Were that the case I suggest rather fewer of us would choose to fly.

There is little personal benefit to be had from working as a volunteer and so there is no personal benefit in submitting yourself to a CRB check, especially in the light of the knowledge that it is ineffective against the evil it pretends to address. The CRB is a metaphorical equivalent of the rubber glove.

The simplistic "if you've nothing to hide you've nothing to fear" response contains a partial truth. I do have something to hide, it's called my privacy. I do have something to fear: the increasing interference of the state in every aspect of my life (or in more colourful terms, I fear a police state). The other side of that coin is more sinister, there is an implied "If you don't comply you must have something to hide."

Just for the record I have had an enhanced CRB check, it came back squeaky clean, not even any unfounded rumours or suspicions. However if the volunteer organisation I work for (military Cadets) asks me to convert to ISA I will use that as a reason to quit because I've had enough anyway, I'm fed up of all the bureaucracy that prevents us doing anything useful with the kids.

(Come to think of it our MPs did have something to hide and something to fear, they tried to hide their expenses for fear of ridicule and losing their parliamentary seats. We only found out because someone leaked the data to the press. How can these guys have the gall to preach to us and tell us how to run our lives.)

Even on the government figures the cost of the ISA scheme will be something like £700,000,000 (over 11 million persons to be checked at a cost of £64 each). Think what that money could do were it instead to be spent on enrichment activities to keep kids occupied and interested.

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