Examination of Witnesses (Questions 20
TUESDAY 6 FEBRUARY 2001
20. And can I just put it on the record that
I thoroughly endorse all of that, and I think the nation is extremely
lucky that there are so many first-class people who do give an
enormous amount of time. Can you just tell us whether, regardless
of this issue, you are finding difficulty in recruiting volunteers,
not just in the inner-city areas but elsewhere in the country?
(Mr Twine) Absolutely; and I can illustrate that with
the very fact that not only is trying to recruit volunteers a
challenging task, we do not have enough in our own organisation.
We have waiting lists of young people, in the UK we have 40,000
young people who want to join a local Cub Scout pack, or a Scout
troop, and cannot; why can they not, the ones near them are full,
there are not enough volunteers prepared yet to give their time
to open up new ones. That is 40,000 on just our waiting lists,
and multiply that by The Guide Association's figures, and those
from many other organisations, and the single reason there is
insufficient numbers of volunteers.
21. You struck a chord with me when you talked
about the type of people who volunteer. I am familiar with an
organisation called Birmingham Young Volunteers, and they take
about 400 to 600 deprived children from Birmingham every year
to adventure camps in North Wales. Some of the volunteers, one
of them is a pal of mine, he is a director of the John Lewis Partnership,
and he could well afford ten quid; other volunteers, who work
with him, and that is the charm of the organisation, some are
from ethnic minorities, out of work, and I think they would have
real difficulty in paying that ten quid. But Paul Boateng has
made it clear, or perhaps he has not made it clear enough, that
the enhanced level might not necessarily be the level of check
that would be required. I just want to quote from him; he says:
"not every volunteer who works in a particular sector will
need a certificate, or one of the level of the enhanced criminal
record certificate." And you are saying, of course, that
the cost of that, you have been advised, would be £10. And
then he goes on to say: "For example, someone who takes a
troop of scouts or guides away for a residential camp is in a
different position to a volunteer who works at a Wednesday night
meeting in a church hall." Presumably, also, for Guides or
Scouts. You said earlier on, Mr Twine, that you would always wish
to make an inquiry at that enhanced level; well, are you not perhaps
icing the cake, are you not perhaps making it a particularly expensive
venture by doing just that? Some of those people, who would be
volunteers, could they not be checked at a lower level, and, presumably,
not have to pay the £10?
(Mr Twine) The 70,000 to whom I refer are those who
do have that substantial, unsupervised access. There are many
thousands more, who assist on the periphery, with the fund-raising,
with the committee work, with the public relations work, with
all of the support, with the driving, with the preparing of the
teas and the coffees, and the preparing of the parties, who do
not have unsupervised, substantial access to young people, and
I am not counting those in this 70,000. I am talking just about
those who help with the meetings, who do the leadership, who do
the regular programme, who take young people swimming, who teach
the football, who get involved with residential experiences, who
work on the campsites and take them off on expeditions; that is
the 70,000, that is the scale of the two largest youth organisations
in this country which are sitting before you now.
22. So, in fact, this could extend far more,
beyond the amount of money that you have spoken about, because,
presumably, there will still be a fee even for that lower level;
is that the same position for the Guides?
(Mrs Ryall) That is exactly the same position for
us. And when I spoke about the numbers going through, the 45,000
are those with substantial, unsupervised access, there would be
another 40,000 who are depot managers and do all the jobs that
Derek has just outlined; and if we were required to check them
then that would add an additional burden.
23. It seems to me that there is a pretty clear
demarcation between the different classification of volunteer;
but has the Home Office given you a clear picture as to what they
would expect, as to what level of checks you would be expected
to provide? You are smiling; so I suspect not?
(Mr Twine) From time to time, in the last 18 months,
the exact wording on that has shifted a little. But the phrase
which has the greatest resonance for us is `substantial, unsupervised
access'; that has resonance because it goes back to the immediate
inquiry by Lord Cullen, after the shooting in Dunblane, it has
significantly informed our own child protection policies, and
it is there very seriously when we have our own concerns for adults
who are in exactly that position. And they are the positions where,
thankfully, the vast majority are sound people to work with young
people; but they are also the positions, where there is continuing,
sustained, unsupervised access, where misbehaviour can be found.
24. And, to take the other extreme, are there
any circumstances that you can envisage where you feel that a
check would be unnecessary; perhaps you can give us a few examples
of the sort of work they would be doing, where you think it would
not be necessary?
(Mrs Ryall) For example, a volunteer who is treasurer
to a local group, who never goes near the girls, or anything like
that, but keeps the books, there would be no requirement really
for a check, unless we were required to check all volunteers,
which we are not.
25. You already have a huge number of existing
volunteers, as you have already said, in answer to previous questions,
and I know that the Guides have said that you have got something
like 100,000 volunteers; how many have the Scouts got, at the
(Mr Twine) In total, Chairman, we are looking at 250,000,
a quarter of a million, adults engaged with Scouting throughout
the UK; these are existing volunteers.
26. Do you think they are going to have to be
subjected to the CRB?
(Mr Twine) We have taken a pragmatic view, in our
organisation, and, I would like to think, in our co-operative
work with the CRB team that is trying to set up the Bureau, of
identifying that we will not immediately go for retrospective
checks on our current people, that we will bring this to kick
in, once the CRB comes on line, with all new applicants for a
new appointment, either joining Scouting for the first time, or
changing their appointment within Scouting, but not suddenly to
27. So you have this huge bank then of existing
volunteers, and I can well understand that the cost would be prohibitive,
I suspect as well it would swamp the CRB, if you were to ask for
an inquiry to be done on all your existing volunteers, but could
you make a guesstimate perhaps as to a proportion that you would
wish to do some check on, or are you saying you would do none
(Mrs Ryall) Our position is slightly different, in
that we renew appointments every three years; so when we began
to have access to the Criminal Records Bureau we would feel obliged,
at the time of renewal, to insist on that person being checked,
then we would have to talk about how long we would accept that
certificate as being current. But we would feel that, at the moment,
there would be, and what did we estimate it to be, I have it somewhere
in here, it was something like 70,000 over three years, so there
would be a rolling programme of checking people. Because we could
not possibly have people long term in the organisation not having
had a check, it would be indefensible to the parents, for a start,
so we would have a rolling programme over a period of time.
28. That really brings me on to my final question
and that is, are you going to have regular checks? The Guides
have a three-year rolling contract, as it were, so it follows
from that, that every three years you will be checking with the
CRB. So, if I can direct this specifically at the Scouts, once
you have done a CRB check, it does not mean that someone is necessarily
going to stay on the straight and narrow for all time, someone
might suddenly develop into a criminal life, perhaps; have you
got plans, or have you thought about how often you would renew
(Mr Twine) Yes. Terry is satisfied that The Guide
Association is a three-year contract. Within The Scout Association,
what we call the warrant review of leaders is on a five-year programme,
at the moment; that indicates one slight difference, not a principal,
but a timetable between the two large voluntary organisations.
What has to happen, and has not happened yet, is a dialogue between
the various Registered Bodies, which are to be set up, organisations
such as our two, and the CRB itself, for what might be the appropriate
benchmark for a validity or a life of a disclosure being current.
In all reality, the disclosure is only current on the day when
it is issued.
29. It is a snapshot?
(Mr Twine) Absolutely. And what we need clarity on,
which must come over the next few months, and we are prepared
to engage with these discussions, is two aspects of this. One
aspect is when does renewal come up, and that requires, I believe,
an agreed benchmark between those of us as Registered Bodies and
the CRB, so what is the lifespan. And the other is, what mechanism,
if any, are we going to have from the CRB for alerting us, if
they have given us a clear disclosure in January and something
emerges in September, are we going to be left in oblivion, or
are we going to be alerted, and is that going to be different
if it is Scotland and different if it is CRB, or different if
it is Northern Ireland.
30. And perhaps there is a third criterion,
as well, that when you have renewal, is that going to be at the
enhanced level again, or is it going to be at a lower level?
(Mr Twine) In our judgement, it would need to be the
enhanced level. If we are requiring it at the enhanced level in
the first place, it is enhanced level thereafter, because it is
the same individual, in a position of trust and unsupervised,
31. So, clearly, there has to be a mechanism
not only where you interrogate the CRB, but I think it is important,
and I think the Committee has noted, that there needs to be a
mechanism whereby the CRB, if they hear something, inform the
volunteer organisations that an event has happened since the CRB
(Mr Twine) We believe so.
32. Can you just make clear, when a check shows
a criminal record, there are going to be some categories of criminal
records, I assume, that are acceptable to you; for example, a
(Mrs Ryall) Unless they are going to be a driver.
33. Where you are looking at a class of offence?
(Mr Twine) Already, we have to make discerning judgements,
and I believe that we have a period of many decades of doing just
this, that if it was someone who was going to be dealing with
money and we were talking about financial irregularities being
the concern then we take a different view. But, equally, it may
be someone who had a financial concern, some 26 years previously,
and was going to be nowhere near money but was going to be assisting
with swimming support, for Cub Scouts going swimming, then we
would have a very different interpretation of that. Our work,
as a responsible organisation, and the guidance in the Code of
Practice which is evolving out of CRB, albeit in draft form, is
going to help develop those judgement decisions which are going
to have to be made.
34. Mrs Ryall, are you aware of any recognised
youth organisations which are opposed to the Criminal Records
(Mrs Ryall) No.
35. And are you aware of any recognised youth
organisations which support the fee, £10, or whatever?
(Mrs Ryall) No.
36. So the youth movements in this country are
unanimous in their thoughts on this?
(Mrs Ryall) Absolutely; yes.
37. You mentioned earlier the three-year rolling
programme of looking at Guide leaders; how much does that cost
the Guide movement, at the moment?
(Mrs Ryall) At the moment, on a £10 million budget,
we spend 1 per cent on child protection; that is the monitoring
of those people, the production of this kind of material, which
is Safe From Harm, etc., and there is a little card which goes
to every single one of our leaders, the training we provide on
child protection for leaders, etc., we estimate that at 1 per
cent of £10 million.
38. What I was getting at was that both you
and Mr Twine have given figures of how much the fee would cost
to your respective movements for new volunteers, but I do not
think either of you said the additional cost, three years, in
your case, five years with the Scouts, on top of those figures
for new recruits, so that the cost to your movement would actually
be greater than the figure you gave, would it not?
(Mr Twine) From The Scout Association perspective,
if I can respond, we are currently spending of the order of £100,000,
each year, on checking and child protection measures. We have
decided, as I mentioned earlier, that the core infrastructure
costs of engaging with CRB is something that we believe is appropriate
to accept, but, currently, that is £100,000, which we are
doing, and have developed a significant culture of care, have
developed a record system, and have developed collaborative training
between The Scout Association, The Guide Association, the NSPCC.
39. In reply to an earlier question, to Mr Fabricant,
you mentioned Dunblane; did Thomas Hamilton try to become a Scout
(Mr Twine) Thomas Hamilton tried to become a Scout
leader and was found wanting as a Scout leader, and we declined
him continuing as a Scout leader, and we declined several subsequent
applications, which he made, through our records.