Thursday, February 16, 2012

Unintended consequences

The Criminal Records Bureau, brought by the previous government and tightened up after the Soham murders (as they were unlikely to have caught Huntley) is one of those weird areas which seemed like a good idea at the time, but however is now an area in which local councils have latched onto to check anyone who might come into contact with children. Not just unsupervised, but anyone, anywhere who just might come into contact.
Burger sellers, tree surgeons and lift engineers are being forced to have “unnecessary” criminal record checks despite new laws to stop invasive vetting, according to a new report.
The Manifesto Club, campaign group against over-regulation, will today claim the Government’s promise to scale back vetting to “common sense levels” is not working.
It has found local councils continued to request vetting for thousands of people who rarely come into contact with children in a “frenzy" of checking by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) last year.
Local authorities are only meant to vet those who work unsupervised with children, but the report found beach cleaners, park rangers, data entry clerks and reception staff are still routinely being checked in some areas.
Some councils require any worker who enters a place of education, even during the holidays, to have checks.
This means lift repairmen, asbestos monitors, solar panel installers and sewage engineers have all been vetted before they can work on school sites.
The CRB also highlights any criminal offences, even those which have lapsed under the Rehabilitation of Offenders act in which people do not have to declare a criminal conviction if they are not asked, or have to declare it in most cases after 10 years anyway. So it's often been used to ferret out the criminal past of people who would be no danger whatsoever to children, but who have offended in the past and had them removed or prevented from doing their jobs, after all in most cases an act committed say for high jinks whilst drunk whilst embarrassing should not prevent you from eventually getting on with your life, yet if you know a prospective employer will ask for a CRB check, you might as well simply not bother applying.
You'd think that only a criminal record of violence or abuse of children would be highlighted, but you'd be wrong, even the standard disclosure which is primarily for positions involving regular contact with children or vulnerable adults, but can also be used for some other professions of high responsibility (for example, accountancy). Standard Disclosures reveal details of any convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings the applicant has received, regardless of length of time since the incidents; together with details of whether that person is banned from working with children or vulnerable adults (if these details have been requested). That's just the standard one, so you can see why the voluntary sectors are struggling a bit, one mistake on your part involving the law, and you might as well not bother trying.
Yes, we need a system to keep our kids safe from predators, but only from predators. Anything else is simply the business of the person applying for a job and doing their best to put the past behind them.

4 annotations:

Restoring Britain said...

It's nothing more than a pointless farce as I came to be around it during my time working in kids football.

It simply isn't joined up. Take a friend of mine who works with children in football and has held a number of jobs. Each time he secures a new job he needs a new CRB check. Forget the fact that in each case it's the same firm doing the handling, the structure does not permit him to bring his last one along and use that.

It's not really about fixing the problem, it's about window dressing. It's a scheme that fits perfectly in today's modern political climate where being seen to be doing something matters more than actually doing it.

Take the kids football example again. Those that wish to be part of the FA's kitemark scheme certainly had at the time I was in kids football needed to have their coaches CRB checked. However the kite mark scheme was only really bought into by clubs that wanted to. What didn't happen was the enforcment of this process at clubs from tough areas, that were statisically more like to have challenged and vulnerable kids playing for them. In other words, those most in need of being protected were afforded none. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work this out but it was an area left well alone which by extension underlined the fruitlessness of it all.

James Higham said...

CRB is so stupid, the way you can have one and at your next job, you need a completely different one. Money making exercise.

General Pyston Broak said...

I had to get a CRB check, of which I have a copy, when starting work with G4S. It doesn't show my conviction from 30 years ago (TWOC since you asked).

Quiet_Man said...

Well general, according to the info I plagiarised off the CRB site, it should have, then again if this was before computer records it might just have been shredded after 10 years anyway.