back to article Unlimited CRB checks may fall away

The end of nanny state checking is imminent. Or is it? Last week, Coalition Equalities Minister and Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone treated local constituents to an intriguing insight into her own and presumably Coalition thinking, on just how far the state should intrude into child-care arrangements. Writing in her …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One way to speed things up

    Next time there is an appeal for help in identifiying a criminal on a program such as Crimewatch why not call in and suggest the person in the poor quality CCTV footage looks like your local MP, police chief or Lord Justice Richards.

  2. Lottie

    Fingers crossed

    Soft evidence can ruin peoples lives as much as being found guilty can.

    Minister in decent idea shocker!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      We should stop buying into and perptuating the injustice by referring to it as "soft evidence" or "soft intelligence" and always make a point of replying to questions by calling it what it is - hearsay, speculation and unsubstantiated mud slinging.

      It is not evidence at all.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Not only is it not evidence, there's a good chance it's not even legal.

        Has any of this CRB stuff ever been tested by a court of law? Has anybody ever sued for libel. After all, truth is not of itself a defence in a libel case, justification is. Imagine you were to be refused a job on the grounds that a CRB check reported that you had once been arrested on suspicion of something iffy, but were released without charge. Now it may be true that you were arrested, so the CRB check isn't reporting anything that isn't true. I think, however, that it could be argued that it is not justified. So you've suffered damages as a result of something being published - no argument there. So the only possible defence open to the CRB creeps is that they were justified in publishing the information. Were they?

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Discriminates against UK residents!

    See - especially "This is because the CRB cannot currently access criminal records held overseas; however in a small number of cases overseas criminal records are also held on the Police National Computer and these would be revealed as part of a CRB check."

    So someone travelling in from another EU country could have all sorts of skeletons hiding in their closet that CRB wouldn't pick up. Know any foreign teachers, health workers, etc?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I don't know . . .

    enough economics to determine whether governmment should slash spending as quickly as possible or shore up the economy until the recovery is in full swing BUT apart from that I'm liking a lot of the noises coming out of this coalition. If they just follow-through I will be a 'moderately' happy bunny.

  5. Sean O'Connor 1

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    Who is the moron who came up with the idea for the CRB scheme? I would have loved to have helped out at my daughter's school walking the kids to the local post office when they wanted volunteers. But I couldn't because I hadn't proved that I wasn't a paedophile.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      You're right, it's a stupid idea

      Let's can it. Then you can walk your daughter's class to the local post office.

      You and previously convicted paedophiles.

      1. Graham Marsden

        @You're right, it's a stupid idea

        And can *YOU* prove you're not a paedophile?

        Go on, we're waiting...

        1. NoSh*tSherlock!

          @You're right, it's a stupid idea

          Pity they don't check and record congenital idiots!

        2. Anonymous Coward

          Can you prove you're not a paedophile?

          No, I can't prove I'm not. But a CRB check CAN prove someone IS / WAS ... does sexual preference change after a few years? No? Okay, then "IS". Which is sort of the point of doing a CRB check.

          The person saying conviction has nothing to do with the article? You're right. So what? The comment had nothing to do with the article either, nor did my reply.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            "No, I can't prove I'm not."

            Which exactly why it's such an insidious challenge. It's a bit like arguing with the following semi-Freudian pov:

            A] All people are angry: They can either admit to this, or repress it.

            B] But I'm not angry.

            A] Why are you repressing your anger?

            "But a CRB check CAN prove someone IS / WAS"

            And herein lies the error in your reasoning. Just as you can't prove you're not a paedophile, a CRB check can only prove that there is a record of someone having been convicted for a reportable offence. It doesn't tell you whether whether that conviction was sound or unsound. It doesn't tell you if someone is a paedophile if they have no convictions for it.

            " ... does sexual preference change after a few years? "No? Which is sort of the point of doing a CRB check."

            The sole point of doing a CRB check is to cover your arse while pretending that the sole point is to protect children. CRB checks don't determine if someone is a paedophile, they just determine if someone has a conviction. If someone's a paedophile and has no conviction no amount of CRB checks will show them as posing a risk.

            "The person saying conviction has nothing to do with the article? You're right. So what? The comment had nothing to do with the article either, nor did my reply."

            OK so they're all off-topic and should be removed by the mods. Including this, my reply.

          2. Graham Marsden

            @Can you prove you're not a paedophile?

            "a CRB check CAN prove someone IS / WAS ... does sexual preference change after a few years?"

            Might I remind you of Operation Ore? Have you forgotten that people were brow-beaten into accepting Cautions for Child Porn offences which they had *NEVER* committed (they had just been the victim of credit card fraud) rather than have their names and reputations dragged through the Courts by Jim Gamble and co such that even if (when) they were acquitted, the taint of that charge would still linger?

            Except, of course, now they have accepted that Caution, the CRB check *WILL* pick up on that and that is "proof" they are a paedophile, except, of course, they never were.

            Meanwhile someone who wasn't caught by Gamble and Co but who has never been caught is obviously "safe" to work with children...

          3. lpopman

            titular thingy

            "No, I can't prove I'm not. But a CRB check CAN prove someone IS / WAS ... does sexual preference change after a few years? No? Okay, then "IS". Which is sort of the point of doing a CRB check."

            Ah, but the CRB check goes much deeper than just criminal records. The database contains stuff like - "Anonymous Coward is a paedophile, Joseph Bloggs says so.", which is just hearsay.

            RTFA before you post, at least.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Are you dense? Was: Can you prove you're not a paedophile?

            A CRB check can either base itself on proof such as prior convictions, or it can supply "soft information", which by very definition is NOT PROOF. Half the beef is forcing far too many CRB "checks", the other half is that those "checks" are worse than hear-say because they elevate unsubstantiatable (otherwise you could convict and not need the rumours) hear-say to something with a governmental stamp of approval on it. That's right, the government now puts official stamps on rumour mill gossip. And uses it to whip anyone "elegible for a CRB check" with.

            There is a reason why we have standards of proof. The CRB has nothing at all on those. Thus it is a legalised assault on justice. But if you feel the need, do go on and sing with the nulabour think-of-the-children choir. You won't paint yourself more of a deluded wingnut than you already did. Should you wish to redeem yourself, write 451 times, "soft information is gossip and is not proof". In handwriting, and no copy/pasting allowed.

            1. Graham Marsden

              @Are you dense?

              Given that you're posting as AC, I have no idea if you're the same AC that came out with the nonsense of "Let's can it. Then you can walk your daughter's class to the local post office. You and previously convicted paedophiles." or not.

              Presuming you are, however, you've totally missed the point I was making that a record of a "prior conviction" *WILL* include such miscarriages of justice as the Operation Ore Cautions which were induced because of inadequate "standards of proof".

              So innocent and harmless people will be barred from working with children because they've been tainted with false accusations by Gamble and co.

              Oh, and calling someone a "deluded wingnut" etc etc really doesn't add anything to the validity of your argument...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward


                The biggest issue here is that CRB does nothing to stop paedophiles (or any other criminals) who have no record from working with children or other vulnerable people.

                The idea that all criminals have criminal records is a nonsense believed only by Daily Mail reasers, civil servants and labour MPs.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: @Are you dense?

                As a matter of fact, Graham, I'm neither the same AC nor was I answering on your comment. Rather the one you were also commenting upon. Yours wasn't posted yet when I submitted that.

                And I do like to know what was so objectionable for this clarification to be rejected by moderator. The "Are you dense? Was: ..." comment, perhaps. But this clarification? This AC commentard does want to know. I'd inquire privately but there is no way for me to do so.

          5. neb

            re: Can you prove you're not a paedophile?

            if i say you're all a bunch of child touchers, prove me wrong,

            ha you can't!

            hearsay wins(loved the one that looked like shrek) again

            fire up the outrage bus boys

            theres paedos working in them thar childrens wards

            filthy fuckers &tc...

      2. Anonymous Coward

        @You're right, it's a stupid idea

        FFS read the article! Conviction has nothing to do with it!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can hear

    I can hear the "Coalition is pro peadophile" claims already.

    le sigh~~~~

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    What Lies Beneath

    "...At last, perhaps, the tide has started to turn - but it may yet need more than a little help from government to make sure it stays turned..."

    ...So don't hold your breath, then. It wasn't Ministers who lit the fire beneath the great moral panic of our time; it was self-serving child protection advocates, lent support by equally self-serving policemen who, together, lobbied clueless Parliamentarians into creating so much of the bad law around these issues. Of course, more than a few careerist, opportune MPs were all-too-happy to jump aboard the Paedogeddon Express and ride it roughshod right through our quaint notions of 'common sense' and 'justice', while cynically flying the 'think of the children!' banner all the way to the statute books. Many still do. Remember that.

    In these straightened economic times things are going to get ever-tougher for the child protection industry (and an industry it absolutely is). Little alarm bells should be going off just about now. Competition for funding is going to be more fraught and desperate than ever - gone are the indulgent, carefree days of NuLabour largess with our taxes.

    Grandstanding - getting your latest sensational report onto the news agenda at all costs (and bugger the facts) - might seem to be order of the day for these newly-cash-strapped alarmists. Time for another media feeding frenzy, then? There goes another little warning light.

    The problem is that the paedogeddon refuses to go away. We have a decade's worth of carefully managed vested interests to contend with - people very unlikely to talk themselves out of their lucrative livelihoods any time soon. Who can blame them? We've all got bills to pay. Whether the Coalition really has the moral courage to stand up to these fearmongers and call time on their mischief-making is still looking very uncertain.

    CRB checks might indeed see some return to a semblance of common sense proportions, but the wider, deeper malaise - this corrosive, sensational moral crisis surrounding issues of child protection - remains untreated, almost inviolate. The media, for the most part, are incapable of rational discourse on the subject, while the greater population, sensing legitimate scapegoats, seem both terrified and in thrall to the entire thing. Who wouldn't want to kick the sh*t out of a paedophile, right? These days, who's going to object if you do?

    I know I've wandered slightly off-topic, and I apologise for that, but - really - all this fiddling around the edges with the CRB laws is just that: peripheral. Until we can understand that, we will remain locked in the grip of this wretched moral panic. It's going to take more than a spot of cheap political point-scoring to roll back more than twenty years of bad law - anyone here seriously think the likes of Cameron and Clegg have the appetite for any of that..?

    1. NoSh*tSherlock!
      Black Helicopters

      @What Lies Beneath

      Good comments, but in the end it comes down to this:-

      We elected a government to govern.

      Media are NOT in charge and if they do not bahave like adults need to be challenged by government

      Problem is Government have been caught not behaving by media - so most got kicked out (or just got a good kicking) - the new lot HAVE to do a better job, including getting back in charge, and the next lot they have to sort out is those who dispense justice based on what they would like the law to be.

    2. Tom 35 Silver badge

      And if you dare say anything against them

      Then you must be a pedo pervert.

  8. John Miles 1

    Jobsworth CRB amplification insanity

    One problem with CRB checks is that each (public) organisation feels the need to go one step further.

    Recently a friend of ours offered to act as one of the parent helpers on a (one off) school trip to a museum - accompanying the class her child was in. She was told she couldn't go because she needed to be CRB checked. This surpised me, so I checked with the local education authority on her behalf - and as expected was told that the county DO NOT require this for a one off visit - it was purely something the school itself had dreamt up.

    Schools lament the lack of parental involvement, and then they put stupid obstacles in the way of parents who offer to help.

    The final irony is that the lady concerned is a health vistor, and of course thoroughly CRB checked in that occupation for dealing with vulnerable people. But of course this does not meet the schools own invented requirements.

  9. JaitcH

    Good behaviour over time doesn't get you a clean sheet in the UK

    Some countries want to get a copy of your 'rap sheet' which is handled through a related organisation to ACPO - the unofficial body that governs police activities.

    There is one type of record specifically used for Australia, Canada, the USA and a couple of other countries. Even though a persons criminal record might have been expunged through a period of 25 or 35 years good behaviour, these 'clear records' actually contain information that alert the aforementioned countries that the person actually has a conviction history.

    Police clearances for other countries are essential a request by the applicant for a copy of the applicants own police record which INCLUDES EVERYTHING, even though technically expunged. This of course makes the whole exercise pointless, if you are trying to show you have a clean record.

    In Canada the clearing of a criminal record is handled by the Parole Board and when it says an applicants record is clear, the applicant can get a really clean report - although any offences remain on record in a partitioned area on the computer and can only be released after a proceeding - usually caused by a persons return to their bad ways.

    BTW, the U.S. immigration people have a neat question: "Have you ever been arrested?" An affirmative answer opens the door for further questioning. If you lie to a federal U.S. official you commit a felony - the serious type of crime!

  10. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Up

    Now that Jim Gamble is gone...

    ... maybe we'll see some sense returning!

  11. durandal

    Criminal records to be scrapped

    In favour of 'Nonce Sense' training for the under 12's.

    In the longer term, DfE/DH to undertake phrenological assessments of staff as a common-sense method of vetting those wishing to work with children and vulnerable adults.


  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time to sharpen this sword's back edge.

    I do think "being an anti-pedo activist or having ties with such" is important "soft information" and must be recorded in any case.

    But on with the show. I've been thinking for a while now that if we (well, the government) insist on tagging everyone with just how bad they are, it only stands to reason to also tag them with just how good they are. It only stands to reason, especially when insisting on running that taggery as a rumours database. Who we are isn't that one-sided, and it is unjust in the extreme to have the government pretend that we are.

    This is given more urgence with judges effectively doing away with previous notions of rehabilitation, nevermind privacy. Justice is about more than just kicking bad puppies. It is, must be, also about redemption and if the government refuses to help it must at least leave you room to do it yourself. Otherwise the government's justice system simply is not about justice any longer, but about repression through everlasting remebrance of your misdeeds, and only those.

    If there is no feasible way to include "positive soft information" and ensure its proper use then we must conclude that the current "negative soft information" hoarding is about as reliable and therefore can only do more damage than that it can contribute to the good of our society, and that it therefore, logically, must go. Believing anything else is deluding yourself. After all, there is a reason why we don't rely on "soft information" for convictions. And if you have better information, then get with the convicting already. Sheesh.

    Finally, a hearty "buck up" to everybody not into scaring everybody else with the latest moral panic. If "we" refuse to be fearful then "they" lose their platform. Spread the word.

  13. Peter Galbavy
    Big Brother

    Until there is "official" back pressure...

    Like that story linked in the Daill Snail and the comment by John Mills, until there is official back pressure and/or court cases forcing schools and other self-serving institutions (or is that institutions run by self-serving agenda driven twats ?) to not over react and to be "sensible" nothing will change.

  14. Horridbloke
    Paris Hilton

    &Jobsworth CRB amplification insanity

    The stupid CRB implementation detail that makes things several times more awkward than they need to be is the fact that a CRB check and disclosure is done for and therefore sort of owned by, the organisation that requests it. This could be an employer, a professional regulatory body or a sports club.

    For example, a friend of mine who works in the legal field and had a full check for that was told their existing piece of paper was no good for helping at the local sports club, who would require their own CRB check.

    An individual could therefore need to fill out the long-winded form (and pay the admin charge) several times. Add the overcautious-school scenario described above then multiply by demands to do a new one every three years and things rapidly become impractical.

    If an individual could get one check done, obtain their certificate and then have that certificate accepted by all the bodies that currently demand a check, that would be a massive improvement.

    (Of course this wouldn't help the soft-evidence problem.)

    Paris, because she's been checked over lots

    1. Jon 52

      crb fail

      The other problem with a crb certificate is it is only valid at the point the check was made. There was plans for a new system, a photocard with a reference number on. This ref could then quickly be checked by any organisation to do a search at that point, then register their interest to recieve updates if anything happened. However this was too costly to implement.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Is there some reason...

    ...that it was important that the boy nabbed for Hide and Seek was black?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Yes... if he had been "brown" and playing hide and seek, he clearly is a terrorist practising blomb planting and anti survellance techniques. Therefore we have to make sure we know he is not guilty by stating he is "black" (as we know by the PC brigade all "blacks" are innocent). "White" people are also innocent, unless it's a race crime,then they are guilty*, as only "whites" are racist.

      * white middle class wimmin are excempt from this.

    2. Jane Fae

      Racial screening

      Yes. As several people have commented in debate on this matter elewhere (i can't remember if Ms Featherstone made the link herself), the chances of a young white boy being picked up for the same reason are significantly smaller - or at least believed to be such.

      So in this instance, the colour is relevant.


    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Just be glad

      he didn't have a camera or a cameraphone on him. He'd be classed as "too long" regardless of actual length and dumped in a secret cia prison in iraqistan or something. Now at least we know what happened.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The biggest problem is weasling

    The old government couldn't be bothered to come up with a definition of who you need a CRB to work with so they gave us a vague "children and vulnerable adults" definition.

    Okay, so you look for a definition of what is a vulnerable adult and you find the list includes anyone who drinks too much.

    Then you look at the old gov's definition of drinking too much and realise that's having ever drunk a pint and a half within 24 hours. Fuck, that's everybody.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm feeling particularly vulnerable right now

      Anyone fancy a pint?

    2. Anonymous Coward

      No it doesn't

      Whilst the SVGA has enough holes to drive a bus through, the vulnerable adult bit is a bit misleading.

      The requirement to register didn't kick in just because you happened to work with, around, for or near a vulnerable adult, but only if you were offering services *to* vulnerable adult*s*.

      So, ye olde computer club for adults, where adults who met the SVGA's definition happened to be present, no requirements for any checks. If you ran 'ye olde computer club for those simple enough to allow me to befriend them and to have away with all their benefits', then the SVGA (as was) kicks in.

      Alcoholism was never enough to trigger the definition of vulnerabilty in any case.

      WRT crb checks- there are only 12 or so positions (and I don't have the references to hand!) where the requirment to undertake them is mandatory. All the rest are arse covering/money making by local authorities/insurance companies/umbrella bodies/other governing bodies/OFSTED.

      In fact, DfE guidance is explicit when it comes to parents helping out in schools- no checks are needed!

      The easiest way to cut down on the number of checks is for people to stop simply asking for them. Simples, etc.

      What we need are a few prosecutions under part V of the police act (making a false declaration, etc.), but CRB are (finally!) starting to bin the obvious chancers.

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Some points on soft "evidence"

    Gossip is *in*.

    Unsubstantiated allegations are *in*.

    Allegations later found to be false are *in*.

    Anonymous allegations are *in*.

    The subject will *never* see it.

    The subject *cannot* appeal it.

    You can complain I made these points up. But like the vetting authority I just ignore you.

    Just this sound like *justice* to you?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Apparetly allegations later found to be false are not in. If you are accused and then later cleared by a court of law you are in a better position than if you are accused and then the CPS decides against taking the case to court.

      IOW if the CPS believe there is a case to answer but the courts decide you are not guilty then you are OK. If however the CPS decide there is no case to answer, you are in trouble in a later CRB. How does that work then? If the CPS decide not to prosecute you are somehow "more guilty" than you would be if the CPS decided to proesecute but lost their case.

      Maybe the CRB check thing was a good idea in principal (just maybe). However like most ideas put forward to government it got fucked up a bit on it's passage through the two houses. Then it got fucked up a bit more in it's execution by the civil service. Then it got fucked up again by government when they decided to change it. And then fucked up a bit more in the execution.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    READ THIS abourt Lord Justice Richards !!!

    I would suggest that it is quite possible that Lord Justice RICHARDS is "owned" by the Police and thus finds it hard to rule against them;

    Read this about him;

    1. Graham Marsden


      ... so hearsay and gossip once again rule over substantiated allegations...

  19. Clyde

    pirates in the school

    I do hope that school in London made sure they received in advance and triplicate and what not, all the necessary CRBs for that film star and all the troop that arrived with him the other day ? Yes ?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It was always a stupid idea

    The Blairites and the Broons and their database obsession always seem to work on the principal that every criminal of any sort will always have a criminal record. When somebody pointed out that this was nonsense they fell back on the idea that every criminal must have had dealings with the police.

    Why? Look at the number of people convicted of very serious crimes who were previously "of good character" as they say in court. Or IOW people who had never had dealings with plod.

    Look at the history of CRB checks and you can only come to the conclusion that the numpties behind it think that anybody who has ever fallen foul of Inspector Knacker should be locked up without trial. And conversely it means that anybody who has never had their collar felt must be an upstanding citizen.

    Except of course none of this applies to MPs caught fiddling their expenses.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge


      "The Blairites and the Broons and their database obsession always seem to work on the principal that every criminal of any sort will always have a criminal record. When somebody pointed out that this was nonsense they fell back on the idea that every criminal must have had dealings with the police."

      That is a little *soft* on them.

      Their view (assisted, encouraged and demonstrated with "proof" by various civil servants) was rather that a subject (as in a citizen of Her Majesty) was just a crim who hadn't been caught yet.

      *Everyone* is guilty, it's just they had not quite worked out what of (still nothing a new law or two won't cover).

      Since everyone is a potential criminal (which in a mind numbingly absoluteist sense is true) *everyone* must be watched/filed/categorized/recorded and (with "luck") arrested, thus proving what sensible people unafraid people they were.

      Do you get the feeling the greatest state of fear was in the minds of NuLabor politician and the group they feared the most was the *electorate*?

  21. Starkadder

    Just Junk it

    The VBA does nothing except create jobs in an area without many. Other countries survive without a VBA, we can too. Without it i might volunteer at my local school. i have absolutely nothing to hide, but am damned if I am going to report to a creepy outfit that uses any gossip that anyone has ever put on record. Scrap the VBA and, if you have to, spend the money on something useful, but even better - give it back to the poor bloody taxpayer.

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