Examination of Witnesses (Questions 240
TUESDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2001
240. I can go to them.
(Mr Bamford) In terms of these higher level certificates
they are only available to bodies where you are entitled to ask
what are called exempt questions under the Rehabilitation of Offenders
Act. It can be people employing teachers, that sort of things.
241. I am not talking about that, I am talking
about the Sunday School and the position of the vicar and the
Parochial Church Council.
(Mrs France) You would perhaps have to ask the CRB
precisely what the rules are. Our understanding is that the basic
certificate is available to anybody. Any employer can ask any
of us to go and get a basic level certificate and to provide it
before we take employment or volunteer or do anything in fact.
We can send for that certificate. That certificate will only show
non-spent convictions and will not include any intelligence data.
(Mr Bamford) To answer your question more fully, where
a vicar is on his or her own the system may not be able to address
this on a simple case by case basis. One of the schemes which
have been established by the Police Act for the issuance of certificates
is that there would be bodies who would handle requests on behalf
of others, presumably ones who are less frequent requesters of
the information, and they would be established essentially as
a mechanism for putting your request through. I would suggest
that if it were the Church of England, for the sake of argument,
or any other particular faith, they would put themselves into
these arrangements so the appropriate questions were asked if
they were entitled to ask exempt questions under the Rehabilitation
of Offenders Act.
Chairman: May I just say to my reverend colleague
that I would start with the church warden and, if not, the person
who chairs the Parochial Church Council.
242. I listened very carefully to that exchange.
If my vicar here gets a certificate which does not show non-spent
convictions, one of which may have been harassment of a child
or a woman, then my vicar sees the certificate, thinks he is a
very good chap, knows he has been done for shoplifting but forgives
him for that, gives him the job running the Sunday School, what
is that certificate then?
(Mrs France) These are not really questions for us.
These are obviously questions about the way the Criminal Records
Bureau has been set up and the Police Act has set it up and our
understanding is that there are schemes which local churches could
join. The point is that because we do not wantany of us
I thinkproliferation of the information related to these
enhanced certificates, because of the sensitive soft information
there, there needs to be a limited number of channels through
which those pieces of information go. It is very likelyand
it is more a question for the Home Office or more specifically
for the CRBthat in those sorts of circumstances there will
be ways of obtaining that information, but I would hope that vicars
would not have copies of enhanced certificates and security information
floating around the parish hall.
Chairman: It was explained to us last week by
the representatives of the voluntary organisations that they have
a lot of experience of this and within communities there is a
lot of information about. The Thomas Hamilton thing illustrates
this well, where he kept applying to start a scout troop and because
he had no criminal record at the time it was the perception that
there was something wrong there and that system which prevented
him doing it. He went and did it another way, but that is another
story. Mrs France, Mr Bamford, thank you very much indeed for
your help. It really has been helpful to us. We are hoping to
publish this report very quickly, although I must say we achieved
the main thrust of it just after our first evidence session finished.