Grayling’s fears over new vetting scheme misplaced

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling's fears over the new Vetting and Barring Scheme are not backed up by the facts

The new Vetting and Barring Scheme, introduced as a result of a recommendation in the Bichard Inquiry into the murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Champman, has come in for unfair criticism today from the Conservative Party.

Bichard recommended that:

“New arrangements should be introduced requiring those who wish to work with children, or vulnerable adults, to be registered. The register would confirm that there is no known reason why an individual should not work with these clients.”

Sir Michael Birchard’s inquiry detailed the catalogue of errors made by police, social services, and other agencies that led to the Soham murders and prevented Ian Huntley from being identified at an earlier time. Information sharing and co-ordination were highlighted as essential to prevent another tragedy like Soham.

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling, speaking on BBC Radio 5Live this morning, said the new system would be a “real disaster” that led to the closure of clubs and activities. “It will leave them [children] hanging round on streets,” he added.

Listen to his interview below and download it here:

Mr Grayling’s remarks have little foundation in fact. The vast majority of services that employ people to work with children – whether in paid services or as volunteers – already demand Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks. At the end of March 2009, the CRB had issued around 19 million disclosures, with 3.9 million issued in 2008-2009. For volunteers and employees, the new system from the Independent Safeguarding Authority will actually make things easier. For the first time people will have a single check, instead of time wasting multiple CRB disclosures.

It is true to say that the system will extend the numbers of activities where vetting will be a requirement, but only for people who have frequent or intensive contact with children. This is clearly defined in the new regulations: ‘frequent’ is once a month or more and ‘intensive’ is where an activity brings a person into contact with children in 3 days out of a 30 day period. It will also apply to people who are responsible for supervising children overnight. Importantly, it will also place a legal responsibility on employers to make the necessary checks before employing someone to work with children or vulnerable adults.

It will not, however, apply to informal agreements between groups of parents who, for example, drive each other’s children to a Saturday football match – as implyed by Mr Grayling in his interview.

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