Select Committee on Home Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40 - 53)



  40. Did he have a criminal record?
  (Mr Twine) It is fair to say that he did not have a criminal record. There may or may not have been soft information available to the police, but there was no criminal record; therefore, even if we had asked for a lesser check, or even if we had asked, "Has this man a criminal record?" the answer would have been "No." But our own approach was rigorous enough to reject him.


  41. It is a tribute to your own mechanism, is it not, in that sense?
  (Mr Twine) Yes.

Mr Howarth

  42. So where would the CRB enter, in that case; what are you going to get for your ten quid per person that you have not already got through your very extensive and sophisticated system?
  (Mr Twine) On that occasion, it would have added nothing to us, but it may have added to other organisations where he set up his own youth work, he set up his own youth club for boys in the village, and there is a history whereby if information had been able to be shared, through such a one-stop shop, as the CRB is giving, then that may have been a different situation in Dunblane at the time.

Mr Winnick

  43. And he tried constantly, nevertheless, despite the first rejection and second, to get into the Scouts movement?
  (Mr Twine) He did, indeed, and we constantly rejected him.

  44. When you say "we", as the Chairman has already said, it is a matter of congratulation to the Scouts movement, but, clearly, in Scotland, they must have been extremely diligent in order to ensure this occurred?
  (Mr Twine) Yes. And if I may repeat an earlier point, Chairman, the "we" is The Scout Association for the United Kingdom, we are one organisation; and thereby I must illustrate, yet again, our concerns about differentials between Scotland and England and Wales and Northern Ireland.

  Chairman: We have picked that up, Mr Twine.

Bob Russell

  45. The reason I deliberately put that question is because I think it does underline the vital role which the Scouts' and Guides' and other youth organisations' existing checking systems provide, which they are already having to fund, and which, as I understand it, from our two witnesses here, they will have to continue even with the Criminal Records Bureau?
  (Mr Twine) Oh, yes.

  46. You were talking about sharing information. I wonder if you could explain exactly what has happened then for the Department for Education and the Department of Health not to assist the two largest youth organisations in the country, and presumably other youth organisations, on this vital area of child protection; why have they stopped doing it?
  (Mr Twine) The intention of the Criminal Records Bureau, much lauded, is to provide what I referred to as a one-stop shop; in the past—

  Chairman: But it is not open yet, is it?

Bob Russell

  47. Precisely.
  (Mr Twine) It is not open yet, and, accordingly, the need is that we have the POCALS system, which is something we have to pay for, as a temporary measure, until—

Mr Howarth

  48. What system?
  (Mr Twine) The Protection of Children Act Disclosure Service; forgive me for not necessarily getting correctly all of the words in that acronym. But it is an arrangement whereby some of that information can be available to us, if we start paying for it, and that will be integrated into CRB when it does come on line. But that was available free of charge, the DfEE list `99 and the Department of Health information about people deemed to be unsuitable for work similar to that which we are doing, and is now not available as a free public service, that has been taken away from us.

Bob Russell

  49. Can you tell me when it was taken away, please, roughly, in recent times?
  (Mr Twine) Oh, recent times, we are talking about within the past 12 months.

  50. Thank you for that. Perhaps we need to come back to that one. You mentioned earlier the problems you are having recruiting volunteers, so others have already asked about that one. Can I move on then to other areas. The Government has encouraged volunteering, through its recently announced £300 million aid package, last month, and through initiatives such as the Millennium Volunteers, which is targeted specifically at the 16-24 year old age group. What have been your experiences of those initiatives?
  (Mr Twine) You mentioned the Millennium Volunteers as your last example. I can illustrate. We are engaged with Millennium Volunteers, with opportunities, at our residential centres throughout the country. Just in Hertfordshire alone, in the last six months, there has been the Millennium Volunteer team going out and trying to identify new recruits into the Millennium Volunteer team, and, out of about 150, 160 recruits, more than 20 have come from Scouts and Guides. Working the other way round, I can illustrate that on one of our Scout campsites, in the north of London, then an individual who was with Millennium Volunteers was diverted, not because he had previous scouting experience, which he did not, to do some work on our campsite. He did his required benchmark of 200 hours, decided he liked it, he is continuing, he is pursuing with his qualifications in forestry, in rifle-shooting and in archery instruction, he is moving towards an NVQ in adventure centre management, and his intention is he will use his NVQ as an entry qualification to college. So that is a two-way process, just by those examples. With the Connexions service, the Scouts, like the Guides and others, are signposted out-of-school activity; there is a member of The Scout Association on the national board for the Connexions service, and we have got, at the local level, many Scouts, and there are many Guide people, on the local boards for Connexions. I could go through the summer camps for teenagers, Chairman. Guides and Scouts have been in summer camps for teenagers for nigh on 90 plus years; we offered that service to the DfEE when the summer camps residential scheme was made available, we still have that offer on the table, particularly with regard to our training expertise. The New Opportunities Fund, we have counties, in scouting, involved with local consortia. So, with the specifics of Government schemes, a fairly substantial track record of both of our organisations being engaged. But I would underpin that by saying that if those schemes are but names and what we are really talking about are issues whereby we can provide young people and volunteers with opportunities for social inclusion, addressing inner-city deprivation, working with minority ethnic communities, parenting, intergenerational activity, working with young refugees, then, by golly, we are supporting and working on the Government's agenda.

  51. Mrs Ryall, a final question to you is, I mentioned the £300 million aid package the Government announced last week, would you agree with me that, perhaps if £15 million of that was earmarked for the youth movements for the CRB, that would pay that bill, and would that not, therefore, help the Prime Minister's wish to get another one million volunteers?
  (Mrs Ryall) Yes.

  Mr Howarth: Can I ask one question, of which I have given Mrs Ryall, as it were, prior notice. The Guide Association published a booklet called `Look Wider'; may I put it to you, Mrs Ryall, publicly, that so long as you put out a document like that, which invites Guides to organise a debate arguing for and against single-sex marriages, to discuss prostitution, contraception, divorce, homosexuality and transsexualism, you are likely to invite the wrong sort of person to apply to be a member of The Guide Association and to teach young girls proper values?


  52. I am not sure this is directly to do with the inquiry, but do respond to it, Mrs Ryall?
  (Mrs Ryall) Yes, I will. Some of the publicity surrounding that particular document has been taken out of context.

Mr Howarth

  53. I have it here.
  (Mrs Ryall) And, indeed, I think that, in some instances, with the language used and the listing, it is always a very difficult thing when you list what people talk about. When you involve young women in putting together their own programme materials, it is a risk in itself. And, I think, in terms of what the organisation is trying to do, it is very laudable, but the way perhaps it is portraying that, or it has been portrayed - by being taken out of a very large document - a tiny little proportion like that, really it does not give the entire or balanced story at all.

  Chairman: Mrs Ryall, Mr Twine, thank you very much indeed for your help with this. We intend to publish a report by the end of March, if it is humanly possible, on this, because the timing for this inquiry, in a sense, is perfect. So thank you very much indeed.

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