back to article Would you leave your child alone with a cabinet minister?

When it comes to vetting adults who may come into contact with children, there is yet again one rule for politicians, another for the rest of us. There is much fuss in this morning’s papers over a statement by Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials trilogy, that once the government’s new vetting system is in place, he …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple solution

    If everyone without an ulterior motive for wanting to spend time with children refused to be vetted then the only ones willing to be so would be the potential molesters.

    Another thought, if politicians are so wonderful then if you need to be vetted to care for your own elderly parents refuse to be so and leave said beloved relative on a politicains doorstep with a note to kindly look after them.

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Operation Ore

    Weren't there some senior politicans among the suspects?

  3. Tim 30
    FAIL

    The English language

    as good as it is fails to provide me with the words I need to express my feelings about this.

    Ludicrous, crass, unnecessary, arrogant, idiotic, offensive, stupid. I should go back to school (if I'm allowed) and see if there is a word that is all of these and more.

    These idiots need to be voted out of power as soon as possible.

  4. Brian Morrison
    FAIL

    Meeting government ministers will be very educational!

    With any luck it will teach children that the drooling idiot in a suit is indeed a drooling idiot and that when they have the vote they should ensure they use it in favour of people capable of independent thought that drool far less.

    As to this whole extended vetting idea, I assume that the gubmint does realise that reducing the people that give up their time to help schools by possibly 90% is going to be bad for education?

    No, well they're drooling idiots then!

  5. Christoph Silver badge
    Flame

    Gossp and Rumour

    Of course once an author refuses to undergo these checks, someone will do the old "no smoke without fire" and assume that they refused to be checked because they knew they would fail.

    And then they'll start rumours to that effect. Which the police will put on that author's record.

    So if the author is eventually forced to be checked, they will fail because of those rumours. And the original gossip monger will say "See! It's true!"

    And then quite likely someone will decide to rid the world of this terrible paedophile.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    last night on tele

    ...was Prince Charles pushing and promoting the idea of more men volunteering to work with groups like the Scouts.

    Quite rightly too, such institutions are good for children, but just the issue that Philip Pullman complains about is what scares so many from volunteering.. ... one allegation, unproven can ruin your life, not just your job.... so sorry kids but you are not worth it due to this over sensitive rather naive nanny state.

  7. sleepy_chicken
    Unhappy

    Cost

    I agree heartily with the context of the article, but there are 2 things that tick me off considerably.

    I help run a childrens drama group and we will need to spend ~£640 to get our adult helpers registered under the new scheme, where will we get the money from?

    Secondly, just like the CRBs, will they still be invalid as soon as they are issued (the cert could be issued the day before a court appearance!)

    Grrrrrrrrrr

  8. TeeCee Gold badge
    Grenade

    Er, I call bollocks on this.

    Vetting is for "people with access in their work"?

    Now explain how this applies to an author, whose work involves writing books, but does not apparently apply to the minister for children, families and schools.

    What a complete load of utter bullshit.

    This a typical result of kneejerk legislation which was introduced for two and only two reasons. The first, to be Seen To Be Doing Something and the second to distract attention from the inconvenient fact that the subsequent enquiry showed that the existing systems *should* have prevented the problem being addressed (Huntley / Soham), had not they been both crap and used by incompetant fuckwits.

    Philip Pullman is whatever the atheistic equivalent of a saint is for shining a bright light into the murky corners of this classic nuLabour, stateist cockup.

  9. Lis 0r

    Ha!

    I think I'd rather leave a child in the care of a professional Dominatrix before I let a politician at them - at least the pro-Domme has some integrity and standards.

  10. Chris O'Shea
    Flame

    So out of date already!

    "Only authors who plan to go into schools regularly - once a month or more - will have to be registered. And the government has said the fees will be paid for authors, provided they are not being paid to visit schools."

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8153251.stm

    And "volunteers" don't have to pay for the vetting, so if the author is being paid, then they are no volunteers.

    If you have an adult visiting a school more than once a month, making friends with the children, reading them stories etc. then I have no objection to a background check being run to see if that adult has a history of child abuse. If they visit a school less often, or don't have contact with children, like, say a government education minister (grin) then they don't need the backgruond check ... though one hopes that our politicians have already been vetted.

    Sure it's a "nanny state" but in this case, that's the point!

  11. asiaseen

    One wonders

    if the Reverend Charles Dodgson would have been allowed to visit schools.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Deep Thought...

    What does this mean for the hoardes of press that have to accompany ministers when they are kissing babies ... ahem, I mean ascertaining the effectiveness of their latest disasters ... um, I mean policies.

    Also, what of the assistants that stand there, whispering in the ministers ear with an on-the-fly brief about what they're actually doing, in the hope of stopping said ministers looking like idiots. Oh, sorry, a bit late there.

  13. Grease Monkey

    FFS

    So unsubstantiated allegations are enough to bar you from working with children? That has got to be a breach of human rights laws.

    This government just gets better and better doesn't it?

  14. Greem
    Stop

    If you have nothing to hide...

    ...you have nothing to fear.

    Apart from the baseless rumours and unfounded, indeed unconfirmed, allegations about which you know little (or nothing) and can do even less.

    I wonder how long it will be (in all seriousness) before people have to be vetted and approved before they can have children? After all, the majority of abuse of young people happens in the home and is perpetrated by those adults closest to them.

    <shakes head in disappointed resignation>

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shall we...

    start making anonymous, implausible allegations about every schoolteacher we can find? It might help people to realise how ludicrous this scheme is when nobody is allowed work with children.

  16. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!
    WTF?

    Quick! Start a rumour!

    That JK Rowling is bad for kiddies. She'll end up on the "Barred" list, and the resultant Daily Mail Shark-Frenzy about the Unfairness Of It All ("Why, oh why, is my child's favourite author not allowed to visit the local school? Churchill would spin in his grave!" etc... etc...) will force the gubmint to abandon this plan, and allow Phillip Pullman back into classrooms to explain to children why God Is Bad.

    Either that, or start a FaceBook group. Yeah. that's sure to work...

  17. Efros
    Paris Hilton

    Independent Safeguarding Authority

    It is predictable that any government department, commission or agency can quite happily go about its business which is the complete antithesis of its own title. Justice department hmmm, ISA hmmm, what next a Truth Commission to get to the bottom of MP expenses. You just know it makes sense... or not.

    I would trust Paris with my children, although I might not trust my children with Paris!

  18. GrahamT
    Big Brother

    Next comes the book burning

    How long before a school bans one of these authors' books because it was written by someone who refuses to prove they are not a paedophile?

  19. Tony Keen

    DCSF not done its research?

    Sorry, I don't think it's the DCSF that hasn't done its research properly, but Philip Pullman, Anne Fine, and others. From what you quote and what is quoted in the BBC story, it seems clear that this only applies to authors (and other visitors) who visit the same school more than once per month. So the majority of authors, who only visit a school once a year, don't have to be vetted.

  20. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Joke

    Light relief

    This always reminds me of a film

    <mob> We've caught a witch, may we burn her?

    <knight> How do you know she is a witch

    <mob> she looks like one

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    See also the BCU

    "You don't work with children or vulnerable adults? Irrelevant, if you're a coach you should have your details registered on multiple government and private databases!"

    Ok, I'll stop coaching, bye!

  22. Greem
    Unhappy

    Re: Operation Ore

    @Dan 55: possibly. Also listed as suspects were many, many people whose credit cards had been cloned or otherwise fraudulently misused, whose careers and lives were wrecked (and in some cases lost, sadly).

    Yes, Ore uncovered a lot of diabolical behaviour and gave a lot of people a criminal record (and rightly so), but the collateral damage to those guilty by association was (is) a high price to pay.

  23. Richard Johnson
    Thumb Down

    what a waste of money

    From those figures, a minimum of 11 million people will need to register with the Independent Safeguarding authority (ISA) at a cost of £64 each. That makes a total income of £704,000,000 for the ISA.

    That's a lot of money to spend, and how many cases of child abuse will it prevent? None?

  24. Iggle Piggle

    Guidelines?

    I frequently deliver my daughter directly to her classroom (she is four years old) do I need to be vetted along with every other parent? I'd suggest that as long as they change that guideline to a fixed and enforced rule that states that all visitors to the school must be accompanied at all times unless they have clearance then our children are safe from even the most predatory author or politician.

    It really pisses me off that politicians feel they should have different rules than the rest of us and this case is no different.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    The United States may be tort lawsuit happy...

    ...but I'll take that over what you guys have going on any day. Ugh.

    Hmmm... do you think that Lewis Caroll would have made it through the vetting process?

  26. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. KCM
    Joke

    Maybe

    ... the ministers need to get an ID card before having one of these checks. Because no minister does anything wrong at all....

    ... but how will they read the card to know it's accurate? Oh yes...twang it for that unique sound....

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Parents/relatives are responsible for most child abuse

    and as they work with their children on a daily basis, presumably they should all be CRB-checked?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    (untitled)

    "most authors only visit a school once in a year or more."

    There's something wrong with that sentence.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Interesting

    Ed Balls recently accepted the recommendations of the Badman report into Home Education, to create legislation which will give local authority inspectors powers to enter the homes of home educators without any warrant and interview their children alone (the inspector gets to decide if a chaperone is needed). The inspectors will be obviously be in a great position to intimidate both parents and children, with the option of School Attendence Orders and "getting social services" involved.

    Strikes me that one way the HE folks will be fighting back will be to work out that the people attracted to such a job are probably potential molesters, report them to the Police if they refuse chaperones, or look funny, the Police enter it into this database and make sure the inspectors not only lose their jobs but are unemployable the education sector.

    Take the scheme that bans people from jobs based on gossip, and use it against the scheme that assumes parents are abusers. I approve of the symmetry.

  31. Jon Thompson 2
    Unhappy

    Maybe it's time...

    ...to vet EVERYBODY!!! The police, the cabinet... even the people carrying out the vets! Then vet the people who vetted them. And so on forever. Think of the money it'll churn around the economy! We could be out of recession by September!

    Seriously, I applaud Pullman's refusal to participate in something that says by default he must want to fiddle with kids. After hearing about the levels of abuse on TV last night, such checks clearly stop nothing. They merely say people haven't been caught.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Er...

    Although the words state: Vetting is for "people with access in their work" the interpretation appears to come down to "If you have an adult visiting a school more than once a month.."

    From this possible interpretation, every single parent who stands outside the gates and collects their child from school will also need to be vetted... or what? you cannot stand outside the school in the fear you may befriend an exiting child so your own child needs to wander home alone, or arrange a parental rendevous at the local shop away from school grounds?

    The state legislation is loose, non specific, badly worded and because of this can be badly interpreted and poorly implemented. This goes for a heck of a lot of the legislation over the past ten years. The terrorism legislation is another case in point.

    We need better civil servants who are better at crafting and locking down legislation from the airy fairy concepts our polititions esouse so that broad interpretations are limited.

  33. Tony S
    Welcome

    @asiaseen

    Ref your comment about the "Reverend Charles Dodgeson"

    As a (former) school governor, I also had to go through CRB check along with everyone else, including the local vicar who was 1) a governor 2) a parent 3) a regular visitor to the school as it fell in his parish and he actually helped teach the children in religious education.

    The CRB checks (at the time I was involved) simply stated that they find no reason why a person should not be allowed to work with children. However, if a person fails, they don't normally state why, just that the person has not passed the check.

    The vicar failed. After considerable effort to get them to reveal why, it appeared that he had a surname that was similar to that of someone that had a large number of outstanding parking tickets and had failed to appear in court several times.

    What then made it worse was that having failed the check, when the LEA asked for it to be re-done, he again failed the check on the grounds that he had previously failed the CRB check!

    Welcome to Wonderland

  34. Claire Rand

    but surely

    if they have nothing to hide they have nothing to fear?

    set an example for once, have the check, make it public if they pass or fail (but not what on, they get the same privacy the rest of us should).

    if they won;t go through it it just makes them and the whole process look shifty.

    if ed balls especially had answered with "of course i;ve been checked" the story more or less ends there

  35. Tom 15

    Why not...

    Why not just vet everyone? I mean surely all this is is a soft store of criminal records in a seperate database? So why not, when you go to look up a person in this database just look them up in the CRB database instead.

  36. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    FAIL

    Dear Government

    Remember 'not guilty unless proven'?

    I'm not. I don't need a bit of paper telling everyone so. Now sod off. Thank you.

    What is it with this government? Their response is always and without fail enormously out of proportion to the stimulus... a dog kills a baby - all that breed are immediately killed. A car kills someone; every derestricted road in the county is smothered in silly limits and cameras; a child is killed - and suddenly everyone who might ever come into contact with one is assumed guilty of child molestation unless they can prove they're not!

    Philip Pullman and the other authors are so right in their refusal to accept this idiocy.

    Or (whisper it) could it be that having twenty percent of the population on this database suddenly makes it so much easier to extend a national database to *everyone*? Surely they're not thinking of a national ID card? Nah...

  37. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    Let me rephrase that for you...

    "a one-off visitor, especially a government Minister, should never be left alone..."

    Bunch of hypocrites. "Do as we say, not as we do. We're trust-worthy, you aren't".

    Well, sorry, no, we don't trust you. I wonder why...?

  38. Wize

    If the only ones who want to spend time with children are potential abusers...

    ...it explains at least one of my old teachers.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    few things...

    1) Vetting only identifies people with previous convictions or suspicion

    2) Authors (and politicians for that matter) are in the public eye so any previous convictions would likely be mentioned by the Daily Fail and schools would know anyway (so no real need for vetting).

    3) You are never going to stop all the pedos unless you have minority report/1984 style thought crimes to punish people who have looked at a 15 year old and thought "if I was younger..."

    4) In that case you'd pretty much have to lock up everyone

    Pedos and terrorists are pretty similar in the fact that you take reasonable precautions but there will always be an element of risk. Risk is what we should be teaching our kids to *manage* and *accept* rather than telling them the world is safe because Nanny Labour is looking after us, and that we can sue the hell out of someone because nothing ever happens without *some*one being to blame.

  40. Lewis Paragraph

    Would you?

    " whilst a one-off visitor (such as a government Minister) would never be left alone."

    Too right they wouldn't, the thieving bastards. They'd probably nick the kids sweets, then claim for them on expenses.

  41. Mage Silver badge
    Heart

    In the awkward situation

    Of cheering Mr Philip Pullman, who has Anti-regligious propaganda dressed up as Fantasy.

    I'm torn between supporting him and being glad he will not be there in person to put his narrow views to kids.

    In the end I suppose I will disagree with people but defend their rights to have a different view.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Being suspected = guilty

    As I understand it, if you are arrested for any offence of a sexual nature even if you are found totally not guilty then you are not permitted to work with children. The justice system is a joke in the UK.

  43. John Hoar
    FAIL

    Yes, Minister?

    Honestly, this lot make Jim Hacker look like a absolute genius. Are they awake in there? Are they thinking for more than 5 seconds on any policy decision? Are the thinking at all?

    What an utter bunch of fools.

    Sadly, the other bunch don't seem any better.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No more swimming

    So, as I take my son to swimming lessons on Sunday mornings, and sometimes find myself in the changing rooms alone with other children, does this mean I now need a CRB check and have to register?

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @DCSF not done its research?

    Maybe ... but its the mission creep that symptomatic in systems like this ... I think theReg has already covered this in their analysis of why numbers who will need to be vetted is much greater than the (alreay incredible) 11million estimated by the government.

    Given that a school head faces a potential 5 year jail term if they allow someone in who was required to be checked without actually asking for ISA reg details then its more than likely that they'll play "safe" (in a purely legal sense of the word) and ask everyone coming in for registration details ... especially as it just needs one parent who's been annoyed by something to start making a fuss if they find someone's been in a classroom without the requisite piece of paper.

  46. Bilgepipe
    Thumb Down

    Waste of Time

    We've seen recently all these knee-jerk rules and regulations don't prevent the pedos getting access to children anyway. As usual only the innocent are affected by these dumb-arsed proposals.

  47. Gary 23

    What happens...

    if somebody has never abused children, never got a criminal record... nothing gets vetted? Surely they would pass and be allowed to work with children. What if that same person then desides to molest a kiddie?

    What has the vetting proved? Surely it's stopped anyone who has molested in the past from gaining access, but it's not a 100% effective way of dealing with the problem is it?

  48. James 5
    Flame

    Politicians....

    .. like to be photographed with babies.

    In my book this is abuse - cynical abuse of a child that is unable to give it's consent - to further that politicians career....

  49. Elsie
    Unhappy

    Nothing to hide, nothing to fear?

    I have had numerous CRB checks for the visits I've had to my childrens school for trips out etc. I know the form back to front as I have to do a new one each year. I've just completed another CRB check for the teenager mentoring programme I'm working on, helping 14-16 year olds at a local school stay "on the rails". I've got absolutely nothing to hide; the CRB checks all come back saying "None Recorded" and I'm always cleared to work with the kids.

    However, what if someone makes an unfounded allegation to the Police or school now? What if one of the children / parents takes slight offence with something I've said or done and makes an allegation? All of a sudden I could be barred (and maybe prosecuted) for nothing. I have got nothing to hide but I do fear that this kind of system is going to lead to a lot of geniune adults being either barred or discouraged from working with kids without justifiable reasons.

    I am seriously considering my position as I feel as if I'm putting my head in the guillotine and a hacked off kid will be able to release the blade.

  50. EvilGav 1

    @TeeCee

    Huntley's actions in Soham would not have been prevented by the eCRB. Huntley didn't work at the school the children came from, his girlfriend did and the eCRB doesn't (presently) check acquaintances/significant others to determine fitness for a job or flag as a problem.

    QED even with the eCRB in place, this was still likely to happen.

    As for the article, I have personally refused to get involved in community work (sponsored by my company), due to it involving a CRB check - I will not submit to such a thing when I haven't done anything wrong and am in fact offering my own time and effort to help the local council/school.

    Further, a number of my friends are teachers (both high school and primary) and know of at least one case where a current teacher had a false allegation made about them - they didn't realise the implications until they applied for a job at another school and the eCRB failed. However, since the persons current job was already secure and doesn't require an eCRB (since they were already doing it), they are in the bizzarre position of being able to remain a teacher at the same school, but cant get promoted (requires an eCRB) or move to another school.

    The sooner we can kick this useless bunch out of office the better.

  51. Number6

    Go Philip!

    I'm with Pullman on this one, I refuse to participate in such a scheme. As one of the home educators mentioned above, I wonder how long it will be before we have to be vetted in order to continue to educate our children at home.

    Should we take bets on when someone who's passed all the vetting checks is convicted of child abuse? It will happen, the system will fail somewhere.

    As for 'Vetting is for "people with access in their work" the interpretation appears to come down to "If you have an adult visiting a school more than once a month.."', look at what's happened with photographers, or to the country of Iceland. If the interpretation is 'more than once a month' then damn well write it explicitly in the law so that it can't later be misused.

  52. bertrodinsky
    Happy

    I'd rather

    leave my children with Gary Glitter than any government minister

  53. W

    jeremy 3, Chris O'Shea & Iggle Piggle

    ...have nailed this.

    The apparent threshold of whether you have supervisory contact with children more than once a month seems sensible.

    A _sensible_ check for those who are trusted to take on a supervisory role for vulnerable individuals? Seems completely rational.

    But...

    Not supervisory and aren't left alone with kids? Why check?

    Allowing checks to include any reference to baseless rumours or accusations? Insane. It's wide open to beinfg gamed by folk logging accusations or rumours for purely unrelated malicious reasons.

    Yes, we should be encouraging scoutmasters etc, but by giving credence to baseless rumours we're moving towards a position where the volunteer is arguably the more vulnerable party.

    So, ironically, the current CRB regime & methodology is potentially harming children by denying them the opportunity to have people volunteer their services due to the potential for their life to be ruined by one single, malicious, unproved allegation that could crop up at any time due to a perfectly innocent disagreement between the volunteer and a disgruntled parent wishing to exercise a little sabotage.

    I do a little volunteer work, but I'll not be getting CRB checks done any time soon, so what can be done by my group is limited to adding the disclaimer that all U16s need to be accompanied. As long as tittle tattle rather than actual convictions has the ability to potentially ruin me, I'll decline, cheers.

    I thought we'd stopped actual witch-hunts a while ago.

  54. Filippo

    Anti-religious propaganda?

    Sorry for drifting, but - where did this whole "Pullman writes atheist propaganda disguised as fantasy" thing originate from? I've read the first book of the series, and I couldn't find anything of the kind. It's a run-of-the-mill fantasy novel. The bad guys happen to be members of a church somewhat resembling Christianity, but the same can be said of a gazillion other books. And I can't think of anything else. Does the propaganda start in the second book, perhaps?

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Parents/relatives are responsible for most child abuse

    Yep, if the government really wants to protect children it should stop wasting time on vetting school visitors and vet every single parent (and immediate relations) before giving a school place to a child.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the reason authors

    "the reason authors are required to register is because they go to the same school over and over again."

    I agree.

    When I was at school we couldn't move for bloody authors all over the place.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    The government are idiots

    "the reason authors are required to register is because they go to the same school over and over again"

    Do they fuck. They write books over and over again - that's their job.

    They go to the same school only rarely and then it's to a different bunch of children who didn't get to meet them the last time...

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    re: operation ore

    Tony Blair is on the ORE LIST

    But his address is wrong (Conservative HQ)

    I was one of the people who had their lives ruined by this crap!

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    And as for those making these laws....

    "Jacqui Smith feared she was not up to being home secretary and wished she had been better trained for the role, she reveals in a magazine interview."

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8155454.stm

    FFS You can't make this stuff up!!

  60. Christoph Silver badge
    FAIL

    What happens when the kids know about this?

    You can now lose your job and have your life ruined simply on unsubstantiated allegations with no evidence.

    The kids will very soon know about this.

    So they can threaten (or just accuse) any adult who they don't like, or who is not doing whatever they order them to do.

  61. Mick Sheppard

    Too late to protest

    The problem is that this level of protest wasn't raised when the CRB enhanced check was introduced. Its therefore possible to bluster that its not really any different and its just a streamlining of the system.

    The real problem is hit on by Pullman. This legislation turns the entire basis of British law on it's head; the principle that a person is innocent until proved guilty. In the case of this sort of 'positive vetting' the opposite holds true. People are guilty unless proved innocent, add to this the fact that rumor alone (the no smoke without fire principle) can get you on the list and huge swathes of the population can be eliminated from potential employment without ever having committed an offence.

    Whilst the case that the legislation in on the back of was terrible, Huntley et al, this is a massive overreaction in terms of cost and human rights. If murderers like Huntley were routinely taking jobs near children and killing them for sport it would be different. There are always people that will slip through the net, however tight you draw it, measures like this trample too far over our freedoms for too little benefit.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    Human Rights

    From the European Convention on Human Rights:-

    "Article 6 – Right to a fair trial

    1 In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. Judgment shall be pronounced publicly but the press and public may be excluded from all or part of the trial in the interests of morals, public order or national security in a democratic society, where the interests of juveniles or the protection of the private life of the parties so require, or to the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.

    2 Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.

    3 Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights:

    a to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him;

    b to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence;

    c to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require;

    d to examine or have examined witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him;

    e to have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court.

    Article 7 – No punishment without law

    1 No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence under national or international law at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the criminal offence was committed.

    2 This article shall not prejudice the trial and punishment of any person for any act or omission which, at the time when it was committed, was criminal according to the general principles of law recognised by civilised nations.

    ...

    Article 13 – Right to an effective remedy

    Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in this Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.

    Article 14 – Prohibition of discrimination

    The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.

    ...

    Article 17 – Prohibition of abuse of rights

    Nothing in this Convention may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for in the Convention.

    Article 18 – Limitation on use of restrictions on rights

    The restrictions permitted under this Convention to the said rights and freedoms shall not be applied for any purpose other than those for which they have been prescribed."

    Trying to get around this stuff by wording things in just the right kind of way, such as by not calling what are effectively criminal charges "criminal charges", and so on, is surely illegal under the Convention, breaches it, and makes a mockery of human rights and the rule of law. It's not what things are called that's important, but what they actually are.

    This police state vetting stuff has to be ripped to utter shreds. It's so plainly a mass violation of human rights. Anyone participating in trying to enforce or implement this vetting stuff is complicit with and guilty of these mass human rights violations.

    Let me repeat the second part of Article 7:-

    "2 This article shall not prejudice the trial and punishment of any person for any act or omission which, at the time when it was committed, was criminal according to the general principles of law recognised by civilised nations."

  63. Richard IV

    What really titses me off

    Is the way the arsehole they pushed forward for the Today interview this morning said that they are only trying to strike the right balance. That is as maybe, but they are seriously failing to strike the right balance.

    In the case of Philip Pullman his argument was along the lines that because Pullman is a well known children's author he will be trusted by children and could therefore have his wicked way with them. Using this logic, Pullman is a menace if he even appears within visual range of a child. This would also explain why government ministers don't need checking - nobody trusts them...

    The whole idea stinks to high heaven and what is worse, abrogates all responsibility to a database check. Kids are most at risk from people they see on a regular basis - families, neighbours - but the government seems to think that it's the previously convicted (usually not for any child related crime), who are stalking the country with raging hard-ons.

  64. Bassey

    BBC Interview this morning

    There was a very funny interview on BBC breakfast this morning. They did there usual job of getting two polar opposites to argue the toss. One, a children's author (never heard of him, never heard of his books) and the head of a teaching union. The first, deliberately leading question went to the author with the obvious expectation that he would be frothing at the mouth about this afront to his reputation.

    The interviewers were quite visibly pissed off when he cheerily admitted he thought the plan was an excellent idea and saw no reason why he shouldn't be vetted in the same way as everyone else.

    Clearly, the researchers had not done their jobs. Rather than a slanging match we ended up with an intelligent, articulate author presenting a well-reasoned argument. Most un-BBC.

  65. Tom 106
    Troll

    Child Protection

    Does Child Protection only exist in Schools?

    What about when kids call into Waterstones etc when the authors are doing a book signing?

    What about Sports people shouldn't we be vetting them too? As they go on School visits?

    What about staff at museums, public library s, theme parks, where kids go on school trips?

    What about public transport drivers, because kids use public transport?

    What about just making it simple and vet every member of the public every year to ensure that the kiddie fiddler register is kept up to date.

    In fact what about protecting adults from those Asbo type kids, shouldn't we have an Asbo register? Where all those unruly St Trininian types can have their details recorded and be blacklisted for jobs in the future. Vet the kids for unruly behaviour and attitudes towards society.

  66. Jay 22
    FAIL

    Like a trust a monkey to enter my data

    Yeah right, the amount of cock-ups government agencies make with inputting peoples data, a simple mistype or click could end you up on a banned list that'll be 50 times harder to get off of than to be vetted in the first place - of course, this data will be kept securely, encrypted, never be taken home or sold to jurnos for a small fee - oh, wait...

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    "Subversive" Children's Books?

    Perhaps it's time for these children's authors to start writing some suitably "subversive" books?

    These much-loved authors and illustrators are in a unique position. Through their work, they can inform, educate and enlighten young people as to what's really happening in our so-called "democracy". A whole generation can be brought up to regard the State as the greatest of (potential) dangers to their own rights and freedoms.

    "Children, we ask you: What sort of future are we building for you? What sort of society will you inherit? Will you be free, or slaves?"

    What will the authorities do then? Start vetting books, to make sure that children only get "safe" books to read? On what grounds? How can they block the politically unacceptable books without letting the Orwellian cat out of the bag? Seems like the government might have just managed to pick a fight it is utterly doomed to lose in a truly massive way. And Another Brick In The Wall, Part II, will surge right back up the charts again, as well.

    There are so many possibilities for how those children's authors and illustrators could respond to this. And they're the ones with the imaginations - who knows what cunning stories they'll come up with?

    Does anyone know if any of these authors are yet intending to respond to this kind of police state stuff through the medium of children's books?

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I for one

    Am more amazed that government ministers are not fully checked before being given their posts. Surely as PM you would want to know the background of the people who are going to lose you your job when it turns out someone you employed is a kiddie fiddler or similar.

  69. Christoph Silver badge
    FAIL

    And another thought

    "Hello, is that the emergency plumber? We've had a massive pipe burst and the whole school is being flooded."

    "Rightho mate, we'll send someone round in a couple of months once he's been cleared to work in a school."

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Animal farm...

    Let me put it this way:

    If an unvetted politico visits my child's school I am going to scream bloody murder and file a formal complaint with the headmaster and drive it as far as I can requiring vetting for the politico and all of his cronies who have violated the school sanctity with their presence. Nothing personal, but looking at the level of lowlife that sits in government and parliament today in their case I would actually expect them to unsuitable to work with children. The reason for the whole legislation is that people who work with children should be trusted by children. Anyone willing to trust the Scottish one eyed idiot? Or god forbid his predecessor? Or Wacky Jacky and her porn-loving husband?

    However if a children book author has come for signing or reading I would not say a word. The chance that they should not be trusted compared to a politico is remote enough.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Headmaster

    Won't somebody think of the children!!!!!

    My new employer has a scheme where I can volunteer a lunchtime to help local schoolkids with their reading (I used to do something like this years back) I took one look at the CRB form and ran a mile. We all know who's going to suffer for this,

  72. Julian I-Do-Stuff
    Grenade

    Bottom line...

    One Law for All - and let the politicians lead by example... the results of whose checks should, of course in the interests of transparency, be made public.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    It's all mad

    I love to take people caving, and get the most enjoyment from peoples reactions on their first few trips underground. The vast majority of these are Scouts or students.

    Yes, I am CRB checked

    Yes, I am checked out by the Scouts

    No, I won't pay to have my 25+ years of caving competency checked so that I may receive payment for this, or work for an outwards bounds organisation. (Although I do sometimes 'nanny' the f*ckwits who get their bits of paper paid for by the local education authority, but who have no experience or common sense!) I voulenteer for the enjoyment of it.

    My friends and I have a rule that we always ask the young adults if they want some assistance, before any physical contact occurs. Just last weekend a 4' tall youngster (to be quite honest I don't know whether they were male or female) was struggling to climb over a 6' rock, so I had to ask "You seem about to fall off that, would you like me to help you ..." by which point they were already in a heap on the floor. Had it been an adult, of either sex, they would have been pulled by the arm (if they were below us) or had a hand shoving their buttock up for a second or so (if they were above us), and no-one would have thought any more about it.

    Which is the safer, quicker, more sensible, instinctive, more obvious approach and which is the more New Labour, politically correct approach?

    Anonumous - because I want to get my CRB renewed some time soon!

  74. Tony Keen

    And re: Par 33 of the consultation...

    This is clear that there is considered a need to vet those with contact with different individuals. It is not clear that this stretches across different locations, whilst the DCSF spokesman is pretty clear that it doesn't. In the end, this is not one law for government ministers and another for the rest of us - if Ed Balls was going into a single school more than once a month, then he would have to be vetted. The fact is, he never does, and so doesn't need to be vetted. Neither, given that he only goes into schools occasionally, does Philip Pullman.

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    if

    it so happened that the car was invented in the last 5 years (i would say 10, but it seems most of these idiotic 'laws' have been invented the last 5) within 2 years of their creation they would be banned, destroyed and propaganda campaigns started against carmakers and drivers. This would happen because, depsite there being <insert large number here> of cars on the road, 2 people crashed and died.

  76. I didn't do IT.
    Flame

    Violin Playing in the Colonies

    "Striking a balance"... well, that's true, unfortuneately.

    This has been the case in the Colonies for years now. Students have held teachers and parents in slavery for years since "Child Protective Services"(tm) or whatever politically correct title they are using now were created. With the Big Stick(tm) of the State hanging overhead with threats of reporting non-existant abuse (sexual or none), little Darling gets that new iPod(tm) Nano(tm), or another two hours of Disney(tm) Kids(tm) channel before going to bed.

    I have watched as a "little angel" of 5 demanded a certain type of breakfast cereal because Hanna Montana(tm) ate it. When refused, the child then slammed her arm into the shelf, causing a large bruise and rapid swelling, screaming at her mother amid showers of tears to "please stop hitting me" in the middle of the Wal-Mart(tm)...

    Guess which box got dumped into the cart, right quick? Lord help her if the mother had raised her voice, let alone her hand, for anything resembling discipline...

    Parents have no power over her, folks. It is only normal for Blighty to strive to do as well or better than we are, innit? Just over there, you still need eine papier, bitte...

  77. Steve Roper
    Big Brother

    Response to this ridiculousness

    A friend of mine is a music teacher who rotates around several different schools. One of these is the school in the local youth detention centre, and he was telling me about how the adults protect themselves in there.

    In every class, there is a teacher and a security guard. If the guard has to leave, so does the teacher and the door is locked. Likewise, if the teacher has to leave, so does the guard and again the door is locked. This gives rise to the situation that at no time anywhere in the centre is any adult ever unaccompanied by another adult. He tells me that the "official" reason for this policy is to ensure the children don't get molested. The REAL reason for this policy is so that if any adult is accused of anything, he/she has a witness present to clear him/her.

    He's noticed similar systems cropping up in other schools, especially with male teachers, who are increasingly being accompanied by teacher's aides in class to protect them against unfounded allegations.

    So it seems that those who work with children here (South Australia) have figured out that innocence until proven guilt no longer applies and have put in place defensive measures to protect themselves, under the guise of protecting the children. It seems to me that when even respected figures like teachers have to resort to this kind of self-protective subterfuge to survive in society that the last semblance of freedom is truly dead. Only in totalitarian police states do people have to behave like that.

  78. nichomach
    FAIL

    *cough*

    "as the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 makes it clear that an individual who avoids vetting in this way could be liable to a fine of £5,000 and possibly prison. " Except that the chance of that EVER being applied to one of our lords and masters is so far out the other side of remote that you couldn't see it with the fucking Hubble. I generally don't have that much time for Pullman (read his Dark Materials stuff and responded with a resounding "meh"), but on this he has my utter and fulmost support. Gubmint, you are made of fail.

  79. Alan 6
    FAIL

    16 million

    So what you're saying is that half the adults in the country will have to be vetted over the next five years?

    Seeing as these people will rarely, if ever have unsupervised access to children the risk of anything happening is extremely slight.

    By far the vast majority of attacks on kids happen at home, and the perpetrators are relatives and family friends. So surely a more efficient way would be to vet everyone before the have babies, anyone marked as bad will have their genitals removed...

  80. rory alsop 1
    Coffee/keyboard

    @Greem at 11:09

    I like this idea - pre-vet all would-be parents...heh heh

    Makes more sense than vetting authors.

    Oh, but wait - authors who are parents...tricksy

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This kind of shit is..

    ..leading us down the road that every adult is becoming a potential paedo until proven otherwise. Its actually quite fightening given the revulsionin society for fiddlers (quite rightly so in many ways). A simple unsubstantiated accusasion is all that is required to destroy peoples lives. But what is the effect on children of this? WIll they see all adults as potential fiddlers? Where will it end? Will I soon need to be vetted so that I can visit my sister? She has three young daughters. Do I need to be vetted just in case Im left alone with them for a short while?

    I agree that there needs to be vetting of those who spend time with children, but it has to be based on substantial evidence, not merely rumour and gossip. Back in the 1980s I was an Air Cadet. It was very important to me at the time and I cannot underestimate the positive effect it had on my life and future. I was a little wayward as a teenager (not anthing like the feral chavs we have now mind!) The ATC gave me a focus and a chance to mix with like minded kids, rather than the fucking morons i went to school with. The ATC is run by adult volunteers and ALL of the ones i dealt with where decent people. There where rumours about one instructor from another squadron we occasionally came into contact with, but just that, rumours.

    Now, 18 years later would I consider being an instructor with an organisation like the ATC? Absolutely not! I would be too frightened of being labelled or accused of being a nonce by some obnoxious, vicious child or thier parents. These kids do exist, they are a lot me savvy about this shit than we where. I feel sorry if decent kids cannot enjoy the benefits of such organisations today, but with peado hysteria and self appointed 'Peadofinder Generals' I think the risks of working with kids can be too much.

    I was recently at an airshow and I saw an instructor with some cadets and to my shame the first thing that popped into my head was 'Is he a potential peado?' Im sure he wasnt, im sure he was a decent guy volunteering his time to help kids enjoy themselves just like my instructors did back in the 1980s. Peado hysteria has got to the point now where im sure thats the sort of thing that would pop into most peoples heads. This shit has got to stop.

    It has only been recently that I have started thinking about more carefully about this issue with regards to my work. My job often takes me into peoples homes and involves measuring every room in the house. There have been occasions where the parent will be downstairs and I have gone upstairs to take some measurements whilst the kids are playing. Its started to occur to me that I shouldnt allow this to happen. What happens if later during my business with the client things go a bit pear shaped and they want to 'attack' me in some manner, by way of revenge. All it would take is a call to the police and the peado cops will be kicking my back doors in, evidence be damned! The only problem is, how do you broach the subject with your client? Do you say 'Dont leave me alone with your child?' Im sure the first thing into their heads would be susppicion..why would this guy say that, can he not control himself, is he a threat?. A great way to start a client-business relathionship!

    This kind of thing needs to be approached with a level head and thoughfulness. Not tabloid 'peados are everywhere' hysteria.

    AC.. well i dont want the Paedofinder general coming after me!

  82. JMB

    Would you leave your child alone with a cabinet minister?

    Interesting comment on the press. Local reporters and photographers must often visit their local schools but also other reporters and photographers frequently congregate around the gates of schools if it is vaguely connected with something in the news. A good case could be made for all of them to also vetted.

    I had heard comments from people that they have had to have a separate CRB check for each charity that they done work for so I was surprised that the authors are not required to do the same for each school visited.

    How does the school check that the person has been vetted? Do they just consult a list or do they have to carry a permit around? If just a list then the paedophile would just need to adopt a similar name to someone already vetted.

    The whole scheme just sounds like a money makiong operation for the Quango (and the Chancellor).

  83. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    Clarification

    This legislation seems (as was stated in a precious quote) quite vague. Is this aimed at those who are working with children, or those who have regular contact with children (or vulnerable adults).

    Let me explain in terms of an example. Say I am a member of an amateur dramatics society, which puts on a Pantomime once a year. The rehearsals go on for 3-6 months, and children are involved. Now, none of the adult members are "working" with children, but all have regular contact with them. So would all the members of the society have to be vetted? Or just the committee? Possibly only the MD/Producer etc? Where is the line drawn?

    I am sure this applies to many similar situations where a group of mainly adults includes children in their activities. I see them as important to the children involved, as it teaches them how adults interact and prepares them for life. If this legislation required all members to be vetted, you would see a dramatic decline in this sort of interaction, to the detriment of the children involved.

    Now I am involved with an AmDram group, and if the legislation means I have to be 'vetted' I will not be involved in these performances again. I may have nothing to hide, but I have everything to fear.

  84. Blitz
    Stop

    Sense check

    Rightly or wrongly I see a lot of criticism regarding this issue but very few answers. It's very easy to rip the govt apart for implementing background checks etc.

    The same posters would be the first in line of an agry mob if there were in fact no checks in place and a child was harmed - shouting "Why didn't you do a background check on this felon?"

    We have to do something to protect children. So the majority of crimes against children occur at home and there is a lot to be done to help kids out in that position and prevent it from happening in the first place. But why do nothing for children that are under public responsibility (such as in schools, community groups etc)?

    As for the people worried about allegations, inuendo and rumour I would suggest that every background check I've come across in the UK and EU (and I've managed more than a few in my role) only deals with actual convictions. However, if a call is received from someone saying "So and so is hurting children" of course it would be investigated - what person that cares about kids wouldn't?

    Background checks on people that work ad-hoc in the presence of children but whilst always supervised by another vetted adult is a little overboard. However, background checks on an adult that supervises children by themselves - even if only for 1 hour a month - is not overboard.

    Finally, as for the poster that stated the wrong message is being sent to children, aka trust no one by these background checks - are you so sure about that. Maybe we should instead of paranoia and 1984 worries be sending them the message that we're doing our best to help ensure that they aren't put in needless danger.

    Summary: This may be overboard, but not performing background checks on adult in supervision of children is an unacceptable risk.

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Arrogance?

    Is it just some weird badge of honour Ministers have to have, in being 'above' the need for such checks? Because I can't really see the sense in any respect to them not doing it, not least because this article and probably a dozen others have discussed it. They're not (presumably) going to get bounced, the taxpayer would doubtless fork out, and I doubt they'd do anything more strenuous than sign a piece of paper. The same applied when Levy etc failed to have their DNA taken when arrested.

    It seems the pitfalls of NOT doing so are bad enough in PR terms that it's hardly worth the effort. Or are they really so self-obsessed that it is that little bit of extra emphasised importance that gives them a boner in the morning?

    Could it be they are all self obsessed narcissists? Never, surely?

    Paris - she probably 'gets' self obsessed narcissism.

  86. MGJ
    Grenade

    It's About Dunblane

    For all those going on about unproven rumours etc and why should they be used against people, that is all there was against Thomas Hamilton, yet everyone knew he was creep with a gun fetish and loved taking videos of boys in swimming trunks. The legislation in Scotland (and the English stuff now mirrors what we've had for a few years now) is designed to catch him; any watering down and it doesn't pass the 'would it have stopped TH?' test so it doesn't go forward (this sort of vetting would have stopped TH setting up and running his weird club after he got kicked out of the scouts, probably/possibly early enough that he wouldn't have gone psycho when they wouldn't let him rent halls anymore). Personally, I have an enhanced disclosure for a specific purpose; I'm never on my own with a child or a vulnerable adult but i don't pay for it and it just becomes part of the norm. The alternative is to publish the list of those who cannot work with children. That's a whole different arguement.

  87. Nigel 11
    FAIL

    Who watches the watchmen?

    Who watches the watchmen?

    Are all the staff with write-access to this database vetted (to a much more stringent level than the school volunteers)? If not, it raises the possibility that a paedophile might be able to add himself or a likeminded pervert to the list of people who have been vetted. Which possibility alone makes this database worse than useless.

    Then there's the possibility of maliciously labelling someone as a paedophile, or the possibility that you have a pervert as a namesake.

    I'm with Philip Pullman on this one - it's a dagger through the heart of civil society, and more of a danger to our children than a safeguard.

  88. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Re. Sense check

    So you agree that pure "suspicion" is enough to bar an adult working with a child? So I can just report my suspicions to the police and bang, end of your career? Why do we bother having a courts system in that case since being suspected is obviously guilty. No smoke without fire!!!

    Next we will be dipping women in lakes to see if they are witches!

    Criminal conviction tests yes but not hearsay.

  89. Mathew White
    Big Brother

    Criminals?

    What about ex criminals who go round to schools to educate kids on the real life perils of having too much of the good stuff, or the repercussions of being the gravity that effects goods on the back of lorries?

    I'm sure that Section 28 wouldn't look kindly on these people.

    So kids are just gona have to do with Nancy Reagan telling them to 'Just say no!'

  90. richard 7
    Coat

    *sigh*

    Look....

    Nu Labour, Tories or any of the drolling out of touch retards that are trying to run the country (and failing) just stop it.

    We know what you want to say, waht you want to do so stop being cowards and get on an do it so we can all get on and protest about it.

    Guilty until proven innocent

    There you go, we know thats what you want to say really.

    I'm off, although where to is another question...

  91. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Operation Ore - test case in progress

    Newspapers from the Daily Mail to The Guardian, and PC Pro (where some of the Operation Ore fiasco details were first broken) have briefly covered the fact that there is an Operation Ore test case which is expected to get clearance for an appeal (or not) soon.

    E.g. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/child-porn-inquiry-faces-legal-challenge-1729887.html

    It hasn't been covered here on El Reg yet.

  92. David Harrison 1
    FAIL

    Deja vu

    "Somebody must have laid false information against Josef K., for he was arrested one morning without having done anything wrong". Our hero is then tried by a hidden court and executed without ever knowing the real nature of the charges against him...

    For fuck's sake, Mr Home Sec, Kafka wrote it as a warning, not a policy manual.

  93. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Re: Sense check

    Blitz said, "The same posters would be the first in line of an agry mob if there were in fact no checks in place and a child was harmed - shouting "Why didn't you do a background check on this felon?""

    Nope. You're just assuming things there, prejudging others, jumping to conclusions.

    I'm one of those posters who's posted objections to this police state vetting stuff, and I'd be among the first to shake my head in dismay at the mob who'd unthinkingly react by demanding the unreasonable. Shaking my head in dismay was exactly what I did when the unthinking mob exclaimed their outrage at how someone - Ian Huntley - who'd previously been accused of crimes had been able to get a job as a school care-taker. I could see where that sort of unthinking reactiveness could lead, and here we now are, in police state UK.

    And this vetting nonsense still wouldn't have stopped Ian Huntley from murdering those two girls, even if he'd been prevented from working as a school care-taker. That's perhaps one of the most amazing things about all this vetting stuff. It shows how thoroughly lessons remain utterly unlearned.

    "We have to do something to protect children."

    Here's a quotation for you: "The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people." - Adolf Hitler.

    The most evil, most dangerous people in the world rely on people just like you, because you're the ones they can - and do - manipulate by exploiting your fears for those "most precious treasure of the people." You're a tool of tyrants.

    "We have to do something to protect children. So the majority of crimes against children occur at home and there is a lot to be done to help kids out in that position and prevent it from happening in the first place."

    Then accept State-controlled CCTV in every room of every home. Without that (or something similarly privacy destroying), child abusers will still have domestic privacy within which to hide their abuse. Is that the sort of Orwellian nightmare you want to build for today's children to inherit?

    "Summary: This may be overboard, but not performing background checks on adult in supervision of children is an unacceptable risk."

    Parents are "adult in supervision of children". You're in favour of all prospective parents undergoing "background checks" before being allowed to have children? History has shown what such societies are like. They're truly evil. We must protect the children of today and tomorrow from such a ghastly future.

    Children most need to be protected from people like you.

  94. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Total Information Awareness Approach Makes Secrets Impossible and Plans Known

    An author has an already captive audience with all those that are immersed in their Works and they can Lead the Audience, with Great Worldly Words, to Believe that Good Imagination Drivers their Futures.

    "I think I'd rather leave a child in the care of a professional Dominatrix before I let a politician at them - at least the pro-Domme has some integrity and standards." .... By Lis 0r Posted Friday 17th July 2009 10:57 GMT .... Thanks for the Thought Exciting Memories, Lis Or :-)

    Once Children and Adults know/are told what paedophilia is and how it entraps them, then those so abused as recognise themselves in the same positions, or having been abused in such similar situations, will have the Power and Control of Truth on their Side against Abusers' Lies.

    And all they need do is Share what they know with those who will Care for them and Help them Grow again.

    There's not a Great Deal of Professional XSSXXXXual Help out there for the XSSXXXXually Used and Abused, is there. In fact, is there any? There's certainly Plenty of Action though for the Professional Sex Worker/Erotic Entrepreneur.

  95. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Vetting has downsides in any area,

    not just to protect children.

    My daughter was offered a job with a psychiatric care centre, who wanted her asap. It took over ten weeks to vet her. During that time she couldn't take a temporary job, since she could have been approved at any time.

    What really interests me next is that morals vetting for investment bankers has recently been proposed. I can't imagine multi-millionaires standing for the same guff as minimum wage types like teachers or psycologists. (I can't imagine how vetting could work here, either.)

    Many European states have their system run by the police, who are able to make a statement on a lack of a police record within a few days.

    Is this another case of missing databases?

  96. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good for the Goose

    All MPs and government ministersshould be required to return to school to learn basic maths skills to minimise "mistakes" on expenses claims. Any refusing to the necessary vetting should step down immediately.

    Seriously though, all employers have an obligation to give fair consideration to job applications from (vulnerable) disabled. Does this mean that all (recruitment) managers have to be prior vetted in order to fulfill this role? Do all employees of any firm recruiting a (vulnerable) disabled person have to be vetted? What is the legal situation if some fail vetting and therefore shouldn't be in the same workplace? Does anybody at the Palace of Westminster have a brain?

  97. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Sense check

    Look, if background checks worked we wouldn't have had Burgess, Philby, Maclean and a whole load of others you'll never know about.

    Put simply background checks do not work. On going assessment by your peers will generally route out run of the mill undesirables who are not as clever as the afore mentioned trio and their accomplices.

  98. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @Blitz

    4 little letters - ODFO

    Risks need to be managed

    Risks CANNOT be eliminated totally, this country has turned into a police state where criminals and delinquents have many more rights than their victims / general public at large.

    Muppets like you just give the Govt. the daft impression that people agree with their totalitarian schemes and other crap.

    When I was growing up in the 80s we NEVER had this "PAEDOZ EVERYWHYEREZ" crap and on the whole most of the people of my age group are *relatively* well rounded, from then on the insanity has gotten worse and worse and worse to the point where no men want to be within a mile of kids for fear of false accusations brought by spoiled brats or their bovine mothers.

    This vetting system is a total and utter load of crap and I'm sick to death of it.

  99. The Metal Cod
    FAIL

    Ed Balls Is Talking Balls

    If I knew that Ed Balls was visiting the place where my little one would be in attendance then I would be there refusing him entry. I would allow him to enter if and only if I could keep him under aim of my bow and arrow. If he did or said anything inappropriate then I could perform a service to society with an Easton aluminium arrow.

    All ministers and MPs should have enhanced CRB checks and these should be published for all too see. I wonder what such a scheme would reveal.

  100. Charles Tsang
    Alert

    "not performing background checks is an unacceptable risk"

    I think we have two seperate issues being addressed in this thread.

    One is whether CRBs should occur at all and the other is whether Ministers are exempt from rules applying to the Hoi Polloi!

    CRBs are here, and whilst we, the great unwashed, are subject to them, so should MPs.

    Regarding whether we have CRBs at all, that arguement is easily applicable to CCTV in every location in Britain. To have unsupervised adults at all is an "unacceptable risk..."!

    The heart of the issue is to clearly delineate exactly what the risk is. Exactly what numbers of volunteers and "crimes" are supposed to be affected by having CRBs in place?

    My wife this morning was alarmed to hear xx ppl had died of Swine flu to date in the UK. However, 6000 die every winter in the UK on average due to seasonal flu. Kind of puts it in context doesn't it! It was further turned on it's head because the timing and the population type being affected actually made the current Swine Flu casualty numbers quite significant compared to seasonal flu casualties.

    We need more than anecodotal evidence as to what benefits CRBs bring about. Is that too much to ask? Just keep labeling things "unacceptable risk" and before you know it, the internet will be Disney.com only and all of Britains cliffs will be fenced off and we'll have CCTV everywhere...

  101. mmiied

    @Dr. Mouse

    even more complex

    I regularly play (once a week or more) at a war games club where children are present I am not staff but a player same as the children I regularly play the same person more than 3 times a month I build up a relationship with pepol I play against it is hard not to games take more than 2h getting to know his tactics is part of the game

    should I be vetted?

    since it is a open club who would be paying for me to be vetted?

    who would be libel if it turns out I was not?

  102. ravelox
    Alien

    Leave my kids with a cabinet minister ?

    Not bloody likely, they were trying to feed them to the 456 on Torchwood the other week.

  103. Grease Monkey

    Once you're inside...

    CRB checks and background checks are worth very little, mainly because the government puts far too much trust in them.

    CRB checks are a failure because they work on the assumption that the only people who will offend in future are those who have already been caught and successfully prosecuted. The "enhanced" CRB check is a woeful attempt to fix this.

    The government needs to learn that they cannot defend against everything. They are like health and safety officers in this respect. Every time somebody is injured in the workplace the HSO will try to come up with a cause which can be avoided in future. Before too long nobody can do their job effectively becuase they have to use blunt scissors and crayons, ladders are banned so everybody has to work in the dark because nobody can change a lightbulb and so it goes. If they keep it up nobody will be able to jump through the hoops required to be authorised to work with children.

    Another problem with CRB checks is that they send out a clear message that the government does not trust it's own criminal justice system. It clearly states that the government believes you cannot rehabilitate offenders.

  104. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Wonder if...

    they are aware that most accidents occur within ten miles of home...

    (now anxiously waiting legislation requiring all people to move at least ten miles to save teh children)

  105. James Pickett
    Stop

    Do not pass Go

    "an individual who avoids vetting in this way could be liable to a fine of £5,000 and possibly prison"

    Lock 'em all up. It 's the only language they understand.

    Unfortunately, this could include me, as I refused a CRB check on the grounds that Crapita (who run the bureau) has a dismal record and regularly makes mistakes (about 10,000 at the last count) and you can just imagine how difficult that is to rectify!

    I now have a form to fill in that asks: "Have you ever refused a criminal records check?" so that's that dealt with then...

  106. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Pecking Order Perks and Popular Pick-me-ups

    "All ministers and MPs should have enhanced CRB checks and these should be published for all too see. I wonder what such a scheme would reveal."....... Is recreational drugs use permitted for ministers and MPs or is that an issue which they would rather not discuss with anybody, lest they be banished forever from the House.

  107. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ministers

    Anyone know how often Ministers meat children on average?

  108. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It stopped me volunteering for the Scouts

    My sons go to the local Beavers & Cubs and I also run their website for them. I was asked if I would like to help out in person but was told I would have to get a CRB check done.

    I politely refused pointing out that the check was not worth the paper it was written on (6 months to a year after you apply) and I disagreed with it in principal.

    Now if I was an MP, I could have refused on the grounds that I was a slimy b*stard who made rules for everyone else apart from myself.

  109. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    there is a hole....

    in the matter of privacy in the ISA GOV. Have a look at the website/s for ISA GOV and see what I mean. !! Its a hint.

  110. Jon Axtell
    Flame

    Author on BBC Breakfast this morning agreed with it

    An author appeared on BBC Breakfast this morning and announced that it would be a good thing to be vetted and that he would happily apply for a check. He stated that he had regular contact with kids in that being a visiting author he wasn't just standing on a stage and reading, he was also visiting kids in the classroom, being shown around the school, etc. However he never said that he was left alone, and I suspect that he would always have a teacher with him doing the showing around stuff. However he made a nice comment at the end of the interview when he stated that because he had a fan base he had kids sending him messages on his website, and because of this he thought that he should have a check, besides the visiting school aspect. If that was a valid argument why not just forget about choosing who gets a check or not and check everybody. Hell, why not just go the whole hog and put it on the ID card.

  111. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Sad society we live in today....

    My missus works at a nursery and has been checked through various registers, but she has to be careful. Kids often come running up to her during breaks and want a hug or a cuddle and she has been told she must simply raise her hands to ensure that she has no hand touching contact with the child to ensure that those around her do not misinterpret the situation. She's been on work related courses that teach about child abuse and it came as no surprise at all when the recent case of a female school worker was arrested for child abuse in Devon. My missus has had to deal with kids she knows full well are likely to go home and get a severe thumping, it really cuts her up and all she can do is record her suspicions for school management, she is not allowed to act on them, that is for the local authority to decide based on evidence presented by higher school staff.

    The red tape makes life very difficult for those who have to work with kids and may occasionally have solid grounds for suspicion and can't act and it makes life hard for those, like authors and youth group leaders, who wish to simply help kids, but are prevented from enriching kids lives just in case they might have the merest hint of being a kiddie fiddler.

    Sad society we live in today, very sad indeed. Hardly surprising when some kids go mental and start smashing things up, it's the only way they can express themselves!

  112. Luther Blissett

    Logical conclusion?

    1. Eliminate all the children, or

    2. Eliminate all the adults

    Nu labour this week announced this week 80% reduction of emissions by 2050. You WILL like option 2, it seems.

  113. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    I want to be a fly on the wall

    the day one of these drooling idiots visits school and the sprog says:

    My father says you are a drooling idiot wanker but I don't see any drool....

  114. jsp
    Headmaster

    Anti-religious?

    @Filippo : You need to read the rest of the books. And not just to find out why they are considered anti-religious[*] but because they are worth reading.

    @Mage : Because we don't have a separation of church and state and schools teach religion, I don't think it does any harm for children to hear an alternative point of view. And I wouldn't describe his views as "narrow"; he draws on an incredibly rich literary and cultural heritage - another reason the books are well worth reading.

    [*] actually, it is subtler than that; he is anti-church rather than anti-God or religion per se.

  115. Ian Emery Silver badge
    Badgers

    Do the math

    £64 x 14 million, a nice little earner!!!! That will keep the cabinet in Garibaldi biscuits for a while!

  116. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Lib Lab Con

    It's not just a Labour thing, it's a search?="Common Purpose" thing.

  117. Julian 1
    Thumb Down

    For those few posters

    who support these rather draconian and unconstitutional measures, there seems to be one very clear reason to reject the system. There does not appear to be a satisfactory right of appeal or measures of redress. We are already hearing about lives ruined as a result of this legislation and Operation Ore.

    To understand where legislation like this is taking us, consider reading some of the classic literature on the subject like Fahrenheit 451, Minority Report, 1984, and so on.

    Think of the kind of world our children and grandchildren should inherit, think what it would have been like if the Nazi's had prevailed. Think what our fathers and grandfathers might think about this use of the freedom that many of them gave their lives for.

    @ MJG on the very sad events at Dunblane, I would venture to suggest that there were some rather serious failings in systems of the time, given that so much was apparently already known, and that consequently this justification is flawed.

  118. The First Dave Silver badge
    WTF?

    Bar Stewards

    @AC 15:40

    An awful lot of babies get kissed by MP's etc, with a peak every four years or so...

    I believe it is rule number one of any management course that you don't ask your minions to do something that you wouldn't do yourself. Of course the Government is technically OUR servant, though they never seem to remember this.

  119. Graham Bartlett

    CRB not relevant for one-off events?

    Oh no it isn't.

    Last year I joined in with a couple of blokes trying to set up a world-culture festival, organising the music side of it. (It didn't happen in the end, but anyway.) It was going to be a one-off event. But CRB checks all round please, because (a) there were going to be student bands playing and (b) there were going to be kids attending the event.

    Oh, and Fillipo, you say you don't know what the anti-God stuff is about with Pullman. Read the other two books in the series. Ignorance isn't a good starting point for opinions.

  120. Alan Esworthy
    Grenade

    sdrawkcab

    The list of vulnerable groups (children, disabled and elderly) is incomplete and as a result most of you have things backwards about cabinet ministers and other government panjandrums. These people are themselves vulnerable. They exhibit a clear inability either to perceive the world around themselves objectively or to react appropriately to that world. Moreover, they are universally megalomaniacal, frequently monomaniacal, not to mention narcissistic.

    So, anyone working with cabinet ministers and the like should be vetted so as to prevent panjandrum abuse.

    @Tim 30 (10:47 GMT) - The English Language does indeed have the word you are seeking. It is "governmental."

  121. Britt Johnston
    Headmaster

    Hitler Quote ? ERROR: pointer too vague

    AC "Re: Sense check " gives a quote from Hitler - that is surprising, as Hitler's retorical powers usually resulted from emotional appeal, rather than any thing quotable. I was unable to verify in German. I did find this gem from Bertolt Brecht, which might apply:

    "Adolf Hitler, dem sein Bart, ist von ganz besondrer Art.

    Kinder da ist etwas faul: Ein so kleiner Bart und ein so großes Maul.“

    Adolf Hitler's facial hair is something seldom seen elsewhere.

    Children, something's wrong in truth, such a small brush, and such a big mouth.

  122. Roger Mew
    Thumb Down

    Theiving g1ts

    What? trust Lying thieving persons. They have consistently been caught lying, theiving and cheating. I think I would sooner trust a person just come out of prison. AND they would not want my telephone number as a salary!!

  123. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Bring back Chris Morris

    Maybe Channel 4 could screen the Brass Eye Special about kiddie fiddlers again.

    What was supposed to be satire has turned into prophecy.

  124. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    All ministers *need* eCRB & should have ID cards

    It's the only way to make sure we can trust them.

    After all they have nothing to hide, right?

  125. raving angry loony

    growing old

    So glad I left the UK. Where I am now is on the same slippery slope, but we shouldn't get here for another 20 years or so. Gives me time to grow old and die before seeing another country become a police state run by corrupt, self-serving and outright insane politicians.

  126. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    @Blitz re: Sense check

    Hi there. I'd like to tell you a story.

    In 2002-ish I had a holiday job working for a temp agency. I was posted to the gov body that oversees the approval of nurserys and playschools etc. Part of what made up the file for each establishment was the recording of CRB checks done on each member of staff. One of those files had a particular record in it that caught my eye. It was about one of the girls working in a playschool. There was an allegation against her that she was unsuitable for that position. The reason? Apparently a parent of one of the kids attending the playschool had come forward and made the allegation that 'the girl's boyfriend had jizzed into her facecream as sme kind of kinky sex game'. Little else in the way of detail.

    Now answer me the following: Should that girl have been struck off on the basis of that allegation?

    Well, I suspect the parent knew full-well what they were doing. But mercifully, (as I understand it) the girl continued to work for the playschool without impediment. And it was apparent that accusative parent in question had lodged a string of other unsubstantiated claims (against thegirl in question, and others), and was on record as being disgruntled with the playschool for some reason or other.

    Crazy scenes.

    Funky private & personal bedroom antics should have nowt to do with it. And for stuff like that to go on record is just plain weird. And for it to be accessible by a temp member of staff (me) is a second failing.

    Yeah, sure. Check to see if the potential employee that is due to have responsibility for kids' welfare has a history of _sexually motivated_ criminal CONVICTIONS. But keep a record of tittle tattle? Not a good (or even relevant) policy, imho.

    While I think aout it, here's some more gov't IT fail: During my time in that temp job, there was a minor round of tests of permanent staff to check for basic numeracy. Just the basics. I.e. the old "If figure X represents 120%, how much is 100%" type stuff. A scary proportion of the folk there just couldn't grasp the concept and I spent a good while drawing diagrams and soforth, trying to explain the simple "divide by 120 = 1%, multiply that by 100 to get 100%" methodology to 'em. :rolls eyes: ...Just a taster of the calibre of folk who are administering some of the elements of our country.

    (Posted AC, because I signed the official secrets act prior to the above job, and you never know...)

  127. LaeMi Qian Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    It's easy!

    State schools can only barely make ends meet because of volunteer help. Therefore: Shut down the volunteer stream, state schooling collapses, close all state schools because of 'lack of staff', Govt.Inc. saves a bundle.

    Cynical? Been living too long in Australia, where the Govt. claimed "Teacher shortage" is actually a "Teaching Position" shortage, while trained teachers struggle to find work and parents (the ones who can scrape together the funds for it, at least) are pushed to the Private Education sector.

  128. Born here sold here
    Coat

    Another database to fix the countries ill's

    But it is so easy to control people once you have them on the database and they rely on your good favour to continue working. They hardly ever step out of line and when they do you visit them at home or if they really tick you off just threaten to take away their ability to work. Or maybe do it. Its not as though they have any legal recourse against your decision. When everyone is on at least one database the malcontents and radicals will be easy to spot.

    The trench coat with the STASI manual in the pocket please

  129. MGJ

    @Julian1

    The point is that there were no systems prior to Dunblane; pretty much anyone who wanted to, could get access to kids and other vulnerable groups, and in case you haven't noticed all the large compensation cases going through the courts for abuse that happened in the 80's and earlier, there were those who took advantage in the time that kids were not believed.

    Hamilton sets the benchmark; what would have stopped him from carrying out that act, and he casts a shadow over a lot of government policy in this area, on vetting and posession of handguns.

    The Daily Hell and others are just jumping on a convenient bandwagon; if these checks weren't being done, they'd be on the other side, campaigning for them.

  130. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Shall we...

    Richard: I'd have thought that putting the politicians who came up with the scheme on the list would be a better plan.

    Of course I'm not seriously suggesting that, but... it's always better to target the guilty ;)

  131. Tom Paine Silver badge
    WTF?

    Serves you right

    So, how many of the commentators above screeching about the nanny state and big brother devoured the coverage of the dozens of high-profile child disappearances / murders over the last few years? /Someone/ kept buying all those tabloids when they made "Maddie"* a perpetual rolling news-circus clusterfuck that Chris Morris himself could hardly have imagined... that was why the media carried on hyping it for month after month after month, you know, it was because people buy more papers when that crap's on the cover. Believe it or not, few if any Labour MPs really *want* to institute a Big Brother society; they think they're giving the masses what they want. Is it their fault that the majority of people can't think past a couple of decades of paedophilophobia, and the crazed media/community witchhunt hysteria that's been whipped up in the last couple of decades?

    Meanwhile, the real horror of child abuse continues as usual, behind the closed front-doors of the "decent, hard-working people of Britain". Well, pardon my bitterness, but my first reaction to much of the above is: screw you, fucko, you've got what exactly what you wanted. (And where were you all when we were demonstrating against RIP in 2000? ) Those expecting Cameron's fascist-lite to do anything fundamental about state surveillance are, well... "mistaken", to be polite.

    After venting the bile, I then think: you're all card-carrying members of Liberty, right?

    http://liberty-human-rights.org.uk/

    Come on, put your money where your angry commentard typing fingers are! Do something constructive rather than just moaning on about how "they're all the same".

    * "Madeleine" too tricky to spell, perhaps?

  132. Tom Paine Silver badge
    Grenade

    Divine Comedy

    Mr Hannon said it better than I can...

    "Generation Sex

    elects

    the type

    of guy

    you wouldn't leave your kids with,

    shouts 'Off with their heads!' if

    they get laid."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNfTnCN9d00

    (Watch the whole thing.)

  133. GilbertFilbert

    Re: Do not pass Go

    James Pickett said:

    "I now have a form to fill in that asks: "Have you ever refused a criminal records check?" so that's that dealt with then..."

    You have the wrong attitude. You need to think like our overlords. You did not refuse the check, you declined to accept their kind offer.

  134. Clint Sharp

    @Lis 0r

    I appreciate it's rather late but;

    "I think I'd rather leave a child in the care of a professional Dominatrix before I let a politician at them - at least the pro-Domme has some integrity and standards."

    Are you sure about that? I suspect 'in the care of a professional dominatrix' may be a good place to find politicians who are 'off duty' and I certainly don't want my children in proximity to such low moral standards, taste for deviant practice and poor reputation for honesty and integrity as may be shown by our current crop of politicians.

  135. Ed
    Stop

    I used to...

    I used to go into my old primary school to help teach the kids computers there - it was a lot of fun to do so. I'd love it if I still could go back, but with the current situation, I'm assumed to be a paedophile....

    I'm sure this whole environment of suspicion puts teachers off - it only takes one child to make an accusation, and they've probably lost their job for life. I'd like to think that later in life I would do some teaching, but this really puts me off.

  136. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  137. Ascylto

    Easily solved and cheap, too!

    All we need is to re-introduce two posts ...

    Witchfinder General

    and Child Catcher.

    the only expenses allowed would be horses, nets, a flute and a bunch of rats. The last item could come out of existing resources (i.e. politicians).

  138. Jonathan Shaw

    Election campaign

    Does kissing babies count?

    Also, the "best practice" of not leaving visitors with children is to protect the visitor. Children in bulk can be very nasty.

  139. TeeCee Gold badge
    FAIL

    @EvilGav 1

    I won't dignify that with a response, save to say that you might want to look up what Huntley's job was at the time.

  140. Richard L

    @TeeCee

    Huntley was a caretaker at *another* school.

    If he had failed a check, he could still have been working in Soham, albeit not in a school, and the tragedy could still have happened.

  141. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    I'm a government minister

    and I'm not going to be vetted, then I'm going to visit a school, accept a fine, but a news spin on the story that makes me come out smelling like roses then put the fine on my expenses...and there's NOTHING you can really do about it, so there!

  142. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What About

    Catholic Preists in schools, will they be vetted?

  143. My New Handle

    To answer the specific question ...

    I wouldn't leave my dead dog alone with a cabinet minister. Nuff said.

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