Protection of Freedoms Bill

Memorandum submitted by Eric Tweedie (PF 44)

THE VETTING AND BARRING SCHEME

INTRODUCTION.

1/

I am a former Fire Service Watch Commander now in retirement.

During my time with the Fire Service I received training and gained considerable experience in legislative matters.

I respectfully request that the committee consider the following: -

My interest in the Vetting and Barring Scheme relates to the fact that I hold the voluntary post of Child Protection Officer for the Aikido Research Federation of which I am a member.

We are obliged to conform to the British Aikido Board policy to ensure that any children within our organisation may be protected from harm so that they can train in Aikido in safety.

I am concerned that, although it is essential to provide safety for children, any protection scheme should be reasonable in its scope and application in our society.

The previous government’s scheme was far too draconian and was widely regarded as totalitarian control of the population in the name of Child Protection.

The government got it wrong and I am anxious that the same mistakes should not be repeated.

2/ DRAFT STUDIED

I have studied the draft of the legislation relating to the new scheme which you propose to introduce.

I have listened to the comments of my colleagues and after much consideration make the following observations: -

3/ EFFECTIVENESS OF LEGISLATION

Many people believe that too many gaps have been left in the new legislation which leaves doubt about its relative effectiveness.

For example it is believed that the committee have not specified which people in the population will require a CRB check in order to work with children. Four million persons are reputed to still require CRB checks.

(By CRB check, I define this as where an applicant is required to engage the services of a licensed agency, pays a fee, and following searches of criminal records is issued with a certificate.)

There are doubts about the constant need for up-dates to CRBs.

There are still doubts relating to unnecessary CRB checks.

4/ ABOLITION OF CRB CHECKS

I believe that a case can be formulated to completely abolish CRB checks (as previously defined above) in order to work with children and this will save considerable expense especially as there is a recession on.

(By this I mean that it is not necessary for an applicant to be required to engage the services of a licensed agency, to pay a fee, and following searches of criminal records be issued with a certificate) (See further below)

I am not proposing abolition of background checks on individuals so here I am drawing a distinction between CRB checks paid for by the applicant and background checks for which employers should be responsible.

To begin with CRB checks are wrongly used for more than one purpose: -

a/

To supposedly protect children from paedophiles.

b/

To inform interested parties regarding recorded criminal activities of prospective job applicants.

At present we have two aspects of the same type of system to do the same job when, particularly in relation to children, we need only one thing; the Barring List.

5/ DEFINITION OF PERSONS REQUIRING CRB CHECKS

Many people are waiting for the committee to define just who of the four million members of the population will require CRB checks.

In relation to the new legislation I believe that the committee has already detailed exactly who in the population shall be compelled to have a CRB check in order to work with children and there is no need to restate this by drawing up a comprehensive list of occupations and posts to which the legislation will apply.

The new legislation clearly states that any person on the barred list cannot work with children and makes it an offence for anyone to do so.

This also means that any person not on the barred list cannot be prevented from working with children. This is very plain and very simple.

It will also be an offence for an employer to knowingly employ a person who is on the barred list so

in any event an employer must check out a prospective employee.

The new legislation now provides better protection for applicants than previously because now only substantial clear evidence of a serious nature can be considered and used in order to bar an individual from working with children.

It may also be desirable for employers to be able to carry out background checks on employees for evidence of other crimes committed, (other than paedophilia) but this is entirely a separate matter from the prospect of specifically working with children.

6/ FINAL COMMENTS

Finally, what we need in a new system is: -

a/ Provision of coded to access through a licensed agency to the Barred List and to other Criminal

Records to be available to all prospective employers.

b/ Abolition of the requirement for people to engage the services of a licensed agency and be issued

with a certificate. (In other words to have to provide their own CRB certificate at their own

expense.)

c/ A legal requirement for all background checks to be carried out by prospective employers at the

employer’s expense. This includes checking the Barred List.

d/ A legal requirement for prospective employees to accept that background checks will be carried

out by employers at no cost to the prospective employee.

This may help to curtail unnecessary background checks.

e/ A legal obligation for employers to be compelled to carry out up-dating of background checks

on employees.

Unfortunately this is the only way to ensure that later convictions of employees come to

light, and in relation to the safety of children, the sooner any convictions for paedophilia are

detected the better.

No system will be completely ideal and will provide complete safety for children but up-dating

records will make the new system as good as it can be for now.

Most fair minded people will accept this to protect children.

My final comment to all doubters who ask the burning question "How many and just who of the

four million "possibles" in the population may be employed to work with children".

The answer is "All who do not appear on the Barred List".

April 2011