Select Committee on Home Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100 - 106)



  100. I am sorry to interrupt you, Mr Gaines, but just thinking about this, the area of concern that we have got about, let us just focus on working with young children. There is a lot of co-operation going on across Europe among police forces; there is going to be information available somewhere, maybe not immediately to the Bureau, but I would have thought they would have had access, or could get access, to that, through something like NCIS, or whatever?
  (Mr Gaines) I think it will be important that that information, where it is available, will be accessible to voluntary organisations working with children, because, obviously, the issue of information from abroad is going to be vital. I understand the Criminal Records Bureau, initially, will be developing a list of potential sources of such information, which organisations would be able to access, but they would not be able to provide us with the specific information. A number of voluntary organisations, over time, actually have built up information also about other bodies that they might be able to go to for information, but, of course, at the moment, that is very limited, and it is important that voluntary organisations, given their work in this particular field, can access that information, if it were possible to make it available.

  Chairman: We know, do we not, from child abuse, and worse, as it were, that there are people that are making a lot of money, right the way across the globe, on this, and it is a big international business, in that sense.

Mr Howarth

  101. Can I ask a question of Mr Etherington. In your submission to us, you drew attention to the fact that the Government has estimated the cost of exempting voluntary organisations at between £48 million and £200 million; that seems a sort of reliable sort of Government estimate, pinpointed so accurately between £48 million and £200 million. I wonder if you could tell us a bit more about that, and also the research which you yourselves have done, indicating you think that it is nothing like that sort of figure, that on the basis of £10 per enhanced certificate it will be a mere £11 million, that would suggest 1.1 million volunteers to be screened?
  (Mr Etherington) Yes. You are quite right to say that that is a fairly wide margin of estimate by the Government, on the cost of providing this check. It goes back to the original question, which is, what is going to be the level of demand for checks, and, based on their estimates, if it was a £10 check, for an enhanced check, and, say, £5 a basic check cost, we think it would be about £16 million, in total. If you go to the higher range of figure, which would include the cost, an estimate, these are all estimated costs, of course, if you include an estimated cost for the Registered Body, on top of, say, a median range for the enhanced check, we reckon the total cost of providing free checks for volunteers to be at its upper limit, around £30 million to £32 million, so that is below the range of the Government's estimate.

  102. Sorry, could you just spell out why there is the difference between the £16 million and the £32 million?
  (Mr Etherington) Yes. It rather depends on your estimate of the cost of the enhanced check. If the cost of the enhanced check works out at a level of demand which is roughly where they think it is going to be, I think, plus an assumed level of fee from the Registered Body, then the enhanced check works out at £20 per check, with £8 of a basic check, which on estimates of demand gives the £32 million figure.

  103. So how has the Government come to this hugely increased figure; is this in order to frighten those who might be calling for the Government to shoulder this burden, and pointing out that it was a contribution the Treasury would have to make?
  (Mr Etherington) I think it would be a cynical view to say they were trying to frighten us; it may well be that they just had very different demand forecasts in the early days of this, and therefore they were finding it quite difficult to arrive at a view. From the charitable sector, that is a charitable view.

  104. If we take, I am trying to remember the figures, that the Scouts, I think, were talking about, the number of people per annum, is it 70,000, I see a nod at the back, indicating I am right, and for the Guides 45,000, it shows we have got good memories here, so we are talking about 115,000 people in respect of the Guides and Scouts, perhaps the largest. How many people do you reckon would require an annual check, for the other organisations which you represent?
  (Mr Etherington) Estimates vary of the number of volunteers that there are, but I think the commonly accepted number is four million volunteers, in formal volunteering roles. What we have done is, we have looked at the number of voluntary organisations that principally are concerned with providing youth services, which are about 15 per cent of the total, and we made a rough estimate, based on that, of about a million volunteers.

  105. So really we are talking about, if it is only a million—I say only, it is tremendous that there are a million people doing this kind of work—but if this is a million people, at £10 a time, we are talking about £10 million, we are not talking anywhere near £200 million?
  (Mr Etherington) No. Even at the higher estimate of the cost of an enhanced check it would only come up to about £30 million.


  106. Is there anything you would like to say to us?
  (Mr Etherington) No, thank you, Chairman.

  Chairman: If not, thank you very much for your help in this inquiry. Thank you.

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