back to article Home Office shifts feet as vetting database looms

With just one month to go before the new vetting database goes live, the public appear finally to be waking up to the threat to civil liberties implied – and they are not happy. Well, Home Office... we did warn you. It was just over a year ago that we did, in fact. Although the scale of the disaster about to hit the buffers is …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New Labour's Poll Tax?

    Could this turn out to be New Labour's Poll Tax?

  2. Tom 15

    Two systems

    You always end up using both systems in the period before a new system gains industry trust because they at least know where they are with the old system. I don't see why the number of people on the database really matters, whether it's 11.3m, 16m or 60m.

    What we really need is for the database to contain enough data for the CRB to be abandonned and common sense to be applied to this (as it probably will be, the media will stir it all up as they do and pick on the occasional example where something stupid happens.)

  3. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Sounds a bit like Communist Party membership ..

    ... where the best jobs, juiciest opportunities and greatest rewards go to the "approved" people who are party members. The rest of the population, the unprivileged masses, have to get by doing any jobs that they, as second class citizens, can get.

    Of course, those who are "on the list" will have a vested interest - not just in keeping the undesirables off (not, you understand because of any harm they might do to the children - gotta think of them!, but simply as a jobs preservation strategy). They will also become beholden to the gummint for their jobs - to the point where it wouldn't be hard to see the link: vote for us, keep your privileged status. Hmmm, you voted for the other lot --- sorry: hand in your security pass and don't let the door bump your arse on the way out. Oh yes, you'll be deemed to have resigned - so no state benefits for you!

    Now, the headline: that this is to protect children from baddies is easily subverted. The proposal is already that doctors and other professionals have to be on it. It would be very easy to extend it's scope so that any desirable job is described as having an element of child-contact in it and therefore only a party-member, sorry: approved person can be granted it.

    Even better. If, like enhanced CRB checks, hearsay and unproven allegations are allowed, all you have to do to get a promotion is to rat on the boss (or your competitor) for their status to be withdrawn. Better still: get your kids to do the dirty work for you: "Now children, you remember when we invited my boss over last sunday? well, Johnny he *did* brush up against you, didn't he ...." Could you just tell that to this nice policewoman (as all the police_men_ will be long gone: excluded or out-promoted by their own laws) what happened.

    Presumably, submitting a DNA sample and owning a voluntary ID card will soon be on the list of prerequisites, too.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Raise a glass to Stalinism

    Some fundamental flaws with this particular Big Brother initiative "to protect children" ...

    If a parent applies for vetting and is rejected then surely the state is failing in its duty to protect that parent's children by allowing even greater contact with them than they'd have with others. So, logically, vetting should include all parents ( and possibly close relatives ), and the state should become pro-active in taking children into care. If parents won't register, they've got something to hide, and need closer investigation.

    If a parent who is vetted takes children in their car where vetting is required, what if they also take their partner who isn't vetted ? Is that breaking the law and a £5K fine ? What when they stop at a petrol staion, the parent vetted gets out, leaving the children with the non-vetted person ? Another £5K fine ? Best not carry an A-to-Z in the car as that's, "an item which may be of use to a terrorist" on top.

    How does getting a vetting rejection - which may be on the grounds of nothing more than malicious rumour - affect ones life, future career and family relationships ?

    Ironically, for all that's planned ( at huge expense ), it appears it still wouldn't have stopped Huntley's crime, nor many others, and it's unlikely those police officers investigating Soham would have failed CRB checks and two ended up in court on child porn charges.

    This is government knee-jerk legislation which goes too far, with little logic, and with little effect. Any gains in child protection will be largely lost elsewhere. Children will end up walking home down roads and dark alleyways fending off sex offenders themselves as people refuse to register on principleand through fear of that we'll keep children locked indoors.

    People are scared to even help, let alone accidentally look at a child, lest they are labelled a paedophile.

    At least Christmas presents will be cheap this year; "Santa couldn't come as his vetting hasn't gone through the system".

    Mine's the one with a puppy, a bag of sweets and a "not a paedo" vetting certificate in the pocket.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tale of a Mr Modern Alan Turing

    Mr Alan Turing is a normal guy, he contributes to society, does a good job, and never hurt anyone.

    However he likes to look at dirty pictures of perverted women, some consider this extreme porn, while others consider it to be normal sexual visual male stimulus.

    But Prudes decide its against nature, powerful prudes, political prudes and rozzer prudes. Their morals overrule everyone elses they think, in their own minds. So he is prosecuted for gross indecency or possession of dirty pictures or such.

    Lots of lies are told, the women are trafficked, Guatamalan snuff movies are on sale in sex shops...lots of lying bollocks to punish him.

    And the extended background check of the government 'blacklist' database, means he cannot work in any job where a lawsuit might result if things go bad. His life ruined for looking at pictures, he commits suicide to end it quickly, aged just 41.

    50 years on the British Prime Minister of the day apologizes for the stupid selfish moralizing asss**te that was Jacqui Smith. People wonder what benefit there is in him apologizing, when the ass*at herself was adamant it was for a greater moral good... but nevertheless public opinion is strong on the matter and he is a weak leader.

    Plus ça change plus c'est la même chose.

  6. Les Matthew
    Thumb Up

    I do love it when

    Humphrys or Paxman stick it to the man.

  7. Martin Gregorie

    Wot I heard O'Brien say

    I heard this morning's Radio 4 interview. At one point O'Brien said that Soham was entirely due to two police authorities failing to exchange information about Huntley and that the new, monstrously intrusive, ISA scheme was designed to plug that gap. What he didn't explain, and that Humphreys unfortunately didn't ask, was why they didn't simply bash some police heads together instead of spending money they no longer have to build a vastly expensive surveillance database.

    I am left wondering if the ISA is merely a front for yet another attempt to entrap the whole population in the NuLabour police state's database.

  8. Richard Cartledge
    Thumb Down

    Two words...

    Common Purpose.

  9. sparkyboy


    So what happens when they make a mistake.

    Not only will they ruin peoples lives, They run the risk of having someone who has been falsely identified having their house being torched.

    Our local paper always prints the name and address of offenders and the militant nutters round here have so far torched every one, But not always the right one.

    Got to keep the kiddies safe.

  10. Nomen Publicus

    Missing masses?

    I'm confused - most abuse occurs in the home. So why aren't PARENTs required to be on the register?

  11. Chris 3

    A nice little minefield

    One immediate example from my personal experience springs to mind...

    At my 6 year old's primary school, you have to tell the school who will be picking the child up from school. It can be a parent, or someone else as long as you warn the school.

    Since this information is held by the school and is submitted in writing by parents I suspect this could be classified as a formal arrangement mediated by the school. Which means that I will need to be checked before I can collect my daughter and her friend every Tuesday to play.

    Ho hum.

  12. Columbus
    Big Brother

    crystal ball time

    If this takes off, I foresee ghettos - those who are 'approved' and those who are not. Given that it is now regarded as a sign of criminality if you protest or even complain about the State it will mean those who are 'approved' will fear anything which may affect their status. It can mean nothing but trouble ahead. Gattaca anyone?

    Big Brother ....nuff said

  13. dunncha
    Big Brother

    If your names not down you're not coming in

    Apart from all the civil liberties issues associated with yet another database consider the social implications. With this card comes suspicion and eventually people without a card will be treated with suspicion.

    Imagine having dinner with your friends and its suddenly discovered that you are the only person not to been VETTED(all the rest are teachers).

    They say: 'You should be VETTED 'then you can be safe like us and volunteer at the school. Help your families education'.

    You reply ' I don't want one, I don't want to help at the school'

    They reply 'Have you been refused?'

    You say: No I've never applied, I don't want to work at the school, I don't need one.

    They say: I would NEVER trust someone that failed Vetting.

    Next thing you know you aren't invited to dinner any more.

    Maybe a little paranoid but most people starting smoking through peer pressure. And we all know what happened to the kids that didn't or couldn't smoke.

    And what would happen if you failed your VETTING. I hate to imagine.

  14. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    @Tale of a Mr Modern Alan Turing

    @Tale of a Mr Modern Alan Turing, correction, he would have liked to look at pictures of men; other than that, just so... this kind of database will allow minor crimes, or even just typos, to ruin a person's life.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Failure Built In

    "On this morning’s Today programme, John Humphrys established that where parents made "informal" arrangements amongst themselves to ferry children to and from school, no vetting would be required. Where a club organised it, failure to be vetted could result in both parent and club being fined £5,000."

    Oh, this has failure built in, on a potentially truly epic scale.

    Those with "nothing to hide, nothing to fear", may well go along with formal arrangements, while kiddy fiddlers and other undesirables will stick to informal arrangements.

    The result is that the vast majority of those "on the radar", being checked, monitored, etc, are going to be sqeaky clean - innocent people treated automatically as suspects. The kiddy fiddlers, etc, will keep below the radar, avoiding checking, tracking, tracing, etc, by sticking to informal arrangements where no vetting is required. And it will be really easy for them to justify preferring informal arrangements: less hassle, less red tape, cheaper, more flexible than all the rigmarole of setting something up formally...

    The innocent end up being watched, while the criminally inclined avoid it.

    So then there's another Soham. And, of course, it'll be because of some kiddy killer who was involved in some informal arrangements, so as to avoid all the vetting stuff. That "loophole" will have to be closed...

    I sometimes wonder how many of these future "loopholes" are deliberately built into this evil government's legislation, just so there will be the need to close them in the future with even more extreme legislation. It's like laying crazy paving until there's a straight edge, but only ever using irregularly shaped paving stones.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Tale of a Mr Modern Alan Turing, correction, he would have liked to look at pictures of men;

    Actually what gets me is that there was a moral standard, and that standard was that sex up the poopshoot between men was a crime. That resulted in consenting adults being prosecuted and his life ruined for no good reason for consensual acts.

    We have the same thing today, the exact same thing, only worse. Nurses being barred from jobs for drunken nights out, criminalization of men having sex with prostitutes, men being criminalized for seeing girls doing dogs...

    It's not even a sexual act that NuLabour is prosecuting people and baring them from work for, it's A PICTURE OF a sexual act. And yet the chief rozzers defend this, and there seems to be no connection there, they just can't see that its the same thing only they've taken it to a greater extreme.

    I bet the chief rozzer will be appalled at Turins treatment, and simultaneously agree with Modern Turings treatment and see no contradiction in that!

    Let me quote Wikipedia and examine what Brown apologised for:

    "In January 1952 Turing picked up the 19-year-old Arnold Murray outside a cinema in Manchester. After a lunch date, Turing invited Murray to spend the weekend with him at his house, an invitation which Murray accepted although he did not show up. The pair met again in Manchester the following Monday, when Murray agreed to accompany Turing to the latter's house. A few weeks later Murray visited Turing's house again, and apparently spent the night there.[32]"

    "After Murray helped an accomplice to break into his house, Turing reported the crime to the police. During the investigation Turing acknowledged a sexual relationship with Murray. Homosexual acts were illegal in the United Kingdom at that time,[6] and so both were charged with gross indecency under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, the same crime that Oscar Wilde had been convicted of more than fifty years earlier.[33]"

    "Turing was given a choice between imprisonment or probation conditional on his agreement to undergo hormonal treatment designed to reduce libido. He accepted chemical castration via oestrogen hormone injections,[34] which lasted for a year. One of the known side effects of these hormone injections was the development of breasts, known as gynecomastia, something which plagued Turing for the rest of his life. Turing's conviction led to the removal of his security clearance, and barred him from continuing with his cryptographic consultancy for GCHQ. At the time, there was acute public anxiety about spies and homosexual entrapment by Soviet agents, possibly due to the recent exposure of the first two members of the Cambridge Five, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, as KGB double agents. Turing was never accused of espionage but, as with all who had worked at Bletchley Park, was prevented from discussing his war work."

    It's the exact same thing.

  17. Simon 40

    Not another database.

    This scheme seems to be another way to criminalise and stigmatise the decent majority. It doesn’t address the problems it’s supposed to.

    It doesn’t;

    1. Stop malign individuals that have no criminal record. In fact it will give them a “certificate” to carry out whatever they want – being that there is only going to be a one off check.

    2. Stop family “friends” that have other malicious intentions.

    3. Address the statistical likelihood that abuse is usually carried out within the wider family circle.

    What it does do is;

    1. Raise questions about people who decide to stop volunteering, for privacy reasons, or whatever – because the State’s assumption will be that they have something to hide.

    2. Create database of individuals – as far as I’m aware nothing has been mentioned about how the “Vetting and Barring Scheme” is going to be managed, relating to the data collected.

    From a sceptical point of view the government know they’re not going to get their National Identity Register so they’re finding another way to make sure the people of this country get indexed.

    The scheme should be scrapped and the money ring-fenced for it put into policing and social services.

    This government should stop inventing unworkable cures and focus on prevention. Though the adage is obvious I’ll state it anyway: prevention is better than cure – and cheaper: you won’t have to create organisations like the “Independent Safeguarding Authority” to attempt to solve the problem after the fact.

    Why is it that this government, when attempting to crack down on issues, always come up with schemes that penalise the decent majority and avoid tackling the real problems? — a revenue stream from people they can validate? – very probably.

    Just like Health and Safety – though a good idea – The Vetting and Barring Scheme is based upon subjective scenarios rather than real science (and reality), namely the mathematics of the probability.

    This government’s only ideas are about big government and the control of everyone. They have no concept of the decent majority and this is the reason why you’ll never hear a government minister stating percentages such as; how many children there are in the UK versus how many are unfortunate to be abused by people such as the ones the scheme wants to identify.

    What we need is holistic legislation, not the piece meal tripe that seems to be this government’s only idea for the betterment of all the UK’s citizens.

    If you look at all the logging schemes this government has proposed and has tried to establish, over its term, you will find only one architecture, and that is the architecture of guilt, and this is the reality of how our government perceives all of us; innocence is not in their lexicon.

    But to have a steadfast view such as this Government's in fact speaks volumes about the psyche of the people currently in government, trying to push it forward.

  18. Paul 70

    And what about music?

    I play in a number of brass bands and orchestras, regular rehearsals etc, and there will inevitiably be children in them (some of those 16/15/14/13 year olds can play a mean fiddle/cornet etc). I guess that all the members of the orchestra (100 players?) will need to go through the checks as well - or do we just chuck out the kids?

    And what happens if one of our members fails? Why get rid of the best musician money can buy because of something that might have hapened in the past - but they are no threat to the kids? Once the pandora's box is opened it will lead to other disqualifications. What if they were falsely accused of something - still get a fail on the ECRB.

    I'm not going to stop my music - most music organisations could not afford the £5000 fine (and why should they have to pay if one of the people who joins them has not bothered with the check) and ..... oooooohh, I'm starting to get annoyed!

  19. Simon 40
    Big Brother

    @ Two words...

    Too right. All these databases that NuLabour are trying to establish stink of a common architect, an architect who wants to control. And who better to be behind it than Common Purpose - an organisation that defined a gap in government hierarchy, from the top to the bottom, then sold this gap as a problem and funnily enough proposed a way to fill it.

    I mean, NuLabour isn't clever enough to think on this scale or such a long term.

    CRB database, National ID Register, DNA database, ContactPoint, NHS care records, "I"SA database.

    Unfortunately we'll only know if all these still go ahead after a change in government. And if that happens, what then?

  20. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    Soft information and Dangerous Pictures...

    Remember that this "vetting" can include "soft information" ie hearsay and malicious gossip whereby it's enough that a kid with a grudge can accuse an adult of trying to groom them or similar, but, even if (or when) it turns out to be a complete lie, that accusation *still* remains on record.

    Not only that, but the "Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act" from where this database comes, included the ability to bar someone from working with said "vulnerable groups" if they had engaged in "conduct involving sexually explicit images depicting violence against human beings (including possession of such images), if it appears to IBB that the conduct is inappropriate" , yet the SVGA was introduced *before* the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act which made the possession of extreme pornography illegal!

    In other words, it seems that the Independant Barring Board will want to know what porn you like to look at before they will allow you to work with these groups!

    Of course now that these laws are *on* the statute books it's going to be a very difficult job to do anything about them.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the problem is.

    there's loads of let's face it, spineless poncey common purpose educated w*nkers who would rather cause ten thousand child molesters to become unemployable, thus starving their innocent children, because they can't get a job, than torture real child molesters to death, to discourage others, and also let their wives find another real man who isn't a child molester to settle down with. This is the mediocrity of the short termist liberals I guess.

  22. RW

    @ Simon 40

    Quote: "All these databases that NuLabour are trying to establish stink of a common architect, an architect who wants to control."

    Once, just once, during the ludicrous tenure of Jackie Dimwit Smith as Home Secretary, a news article (perhaps here in El Reg, elsewise probably the Beeb, the Times, or the Grauniad) mentioned the name of some dire high-ranking police functionary who has the ear of the Home Secretary. IIRC, this asshole is supposed to represent the interests of the police to the Home Office.

    Why are the police involved in making law? That is the fundamental question. The cops need to be told pointblank that they do NOT make law, and they need to be kept on a very short leash by a Home Secretary or judges who take no shit and no excuses from them. The Home Secretary needs to tell the cops "when I want your opinion, I'll ask for it, now fuck off."

    I wish to the devil I'd saved the web page so I could give a more precise report, but I didn't so this vague recollection will have to do. Perhaps someone else remembers the same article.

  23. John Ozimek

    Two systems becoming one?

    Sorry, Tom. I thought this at one point. But no: that is not what is happening. In the early days of promoting the ISA and the vetting database, the impression was allowed to grow that it would do away with the imperfections in the crb system.

    However, what is now clear is that the two systems do quite different things.

    The database sets a single gold standard for everyone on it. You either pass, or you fail...and my guess is that the fail bar will be set high, otherwise the database would become a major scandal.

    So what employers will know from the database is merely...that the individual has NOT been barred from working with kids or the vulnerable. So what?

    I very much doubt Huntley would have been barred: so this base fails its initial objective right there.

    Meanwhile, employers are still going to need crb checks a) because they give far more detail about an individual...and some employers might want that detail when making employment decisions and b) because the whole compensation/negligence culture means that even if the vetting database says someone isn't barred, an employed doesn't want to end up employing someone who commits a crime and, it turns out, had dodgy crb info on them.

    Therefore, the value of this base is that it will bar from working with kids and the vulnerable about 20k people over and above those already effectively barred. Assuming every one of those is a new barring who would not be caught by other means, that puts a price tag of £50k per person barred.

    Assuming that maybe half to three quarters of those would have been picked up simply by extending the range of work for which crb is have a system in which maybe 14 million people go on a database in order to control the behaviour of 5,000...with cost per person barred now a staggering £200k per individual.

    Common sense? Or arrogant stupidity?

  24. Jess

    Will cause more damage to more children than it protects.

    What are the likely results?

    Kids' clubs finding it hard to get helpers. Clubs closing or redusing what they offer.

    New over 18 rules on other clubs to avoid the trouble.

    More alienated kids. More kids going round in gangs. More unhealthy kids - video games instead of sport.

    As if they haven't damaged kids enough by making adults afraid to give a kid a hug when they are upset for fear of being labeled.

  25. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down


    Could this turn out to be New Labour's Poll Tax?

    No. That will be the ID card scheme.

    Lots of people recognise that one is a bad idea.

    People are still believing the propoganda that this will prote ctchildren/elderly/mentally challenged ("Vulnerable persons" covers a very *wide* area if you want it to).

    Of course unlike the Community Charge both are (in theory) "Voluntary."

    Just like breathing.

  26. Nicholas Clark
    Big Brother

    Flag the wrong way up?

    I was thinking, that for this story, the icon of the flag needs inverting.

    But then, on reflection, maybe not, as that would mean that someone is acknowledging that they are in distress, and the trouble is that the Home Office certainly isn't capable of admitting this, quite likely not even capable of realising it. (Heck, but neither is any other department or politician. Full steam ahead, icebergs or not).

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Re: @Tale of a Mr Modern Alan Turing, correction, he would have liked to look at pictures of men;

    Here's how I think it often works.

    Once upon a time, male homosexuality was criminalised, and remained criminalised, largely because a lot of people found it disgusting. Decades after decriminalisation, it's no longer "politically correct" to say that homosexuality's disgusting. These days, homosexuality is officially not disgusting. It's part of the established dogma that it's not disgusting.

    But we've now got a government, and a broader establishment in its various forms, that mistakenly think that homosexuality's okay not because it's a private matter between consenting adults, but because the established dogma is that it's not disgusting. So, when faced with something that is still regarded as disgusting (such as, say, consensual BDSM (mis)interpreted as violent and degrading mistreatment of women (even though it's many years since Annie Lennox sang, "Some of them want to be abused")), they see no problem in criminalising it. After all, most people find it disgusting.

    As AC and others have pointed out and explained, the government, etc, just don't see that this is the exact same bigotry that was behind the persecution of Alan Turing and so many, many other homosexual men in the past. Homosexuality was rightly decriminalised not because it isn't disgusting, but because, no matter how disgusting many of us might find it to be, it's a private matter between consenting adults.

    And let me say this: I do find male homosexuality disgusting, along with cabbage! But just as it would make no sense for me to persecute cabbage eaters on that basis, it makes no sense for me to support the persecution of my fellow human beings simply because some of them are gay, either. I recognise that the disgust I feel is simply a part of my own sexuality, and not something for me to impose on others. I wish the government would adopt a similar attitude.

    Perhaps CAAN, and other campaigners, could take this opportunity to make the point that the government is being extremely hypocritical here. I wonder if Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart (Eurhythmics) would agree to Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) being used for campaign purposes by CAAN and the like? Perhaps it could be re-released as an awareness-raising single along with a suitably kinky video.

    "Sweet dreams are made of this

    Who am I to disagree?"

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Yet another database

    Here we are again... Another database by a Government, sorry, Dictatorship to keep us all in check, cost us money and criminalise innocent people.

    With every new database coming online they're building more and more of a surveillance infrastructure to watch our every move, what we look at on the internet, every car journey taken, who we carry in our cars, every credit/debit card transaction we make. And not to mention, yet another IT project from Labour who have a long, long track record of IT project FAILS!

    I predict they'll leave loopholes open deliberately for people to exploit. Then they can force or scare people into accepting it eventually by saying "told you this stuff happens". Then close the loophole and charge more for new checks.

    This country has been ruined by the installation of Labour into Number 10. Why don't the people of this country stand up and fight for their rights? (Can I say that without being accused of instigating civil unrest?!). Why do people just bend over and take it?

    At the end of the day I don't think this will make the blindest bit of difference as the ones who are going to harm children will find a way to do it anyway.

    Fail because it will.

  29. Graham Marsden

    @the problem is.

    Err, the Daily Mail comments page is over there....

  30. Small Wee Jobbie
    Big Brother

    It's not all bad....really

    I couldn't let this pass without commenting - in Ireland we already have this - if you work with children you have to get Garda (Police) clearance. If you want to go with the kids on a scouting weekend, or local football team same procedure.

    You do it once, get your form filled in - sent off and if it comes back you can give a copy to which ever club or association or whatever, want to work in a school, got the form ok then etc

    If it doesn't come back then no scouts trip for you. End of.

    Yes the UK government seem even more adept at loosing the keys to the database doors than the Irish government, but have it no you don't need to have it if you are a parent for your own kids, but you do for other peoples!

    It's not perfect - I don't think that you can have a perfect system, but it does mean that if you work with kids that someone somewhere has checked you before signing the form to say off you go.

  31. tardigrade
    Big Brother


    Any reasonably intelligent adult need only spend 5 minutes thinking about how this scheme will work to realise that it is absolute madness. It will not protect children at all, that much is fundamentally obvious. So the ministers who are backing this are either staggeringly, wilfully dense or this is part of a larger conspiracy within Whitehall to tag every person in the country, get us all on a database and start exerting control over how we live.

    Either way the level of contempt it shows for the public is breathtaking. There will be another Soham and then the call will be made for everyone to be checked regardless. It's a big step towards presumption of guilt. We really need to stop this now. One by one these mentalist laws and schemes are introduced, anti terrorism law, id cards, talking cctv, extreme porn law, religious hatred law etc. all in the name of "safeguarding" us. This conceited government seems to believe that we will clap and thank them for protecting us from ourselves.

    Who was it that said, "The death of democracy will be welcomed to the sound of rapturous applause."

    They might be right.

  32. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    @the problem is.

    > 00:04 GMT

    Just in from the pub are we sir? You tell 'em. Bring back hanging too, never did me any harm.

    Incidentally anyone know what happens with 18yo students? Do they have to be vetted to? They are adults coming into regular contact with children.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ban Children

    The easiest way out of all this is to totally ban children -that way no children can be put at risk.

    If you think that is stupid, then so is this current state of affairs where you can no-longer smile at a child or say to the parents how sweet he/she looks. You dare not be left in a room with a child on your own. Hard luck on the child that falls down and cuts his/her knee because the risk of going to aid the child is too great.

    Who would be a parent when school children are given a third degree by their teachers and do good social services gestapo to find out if anything untoward is happening in the home.

    Yes abuse is wrong - but the investigation, suspicion and definition of abuse has got out of hand. This database which will record rumour and innuendo, interpretation of innocent actions into hard damning facts is going to ruin a lot of totally innocent families and lives.

    Guilty unless proved innocent.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @the problem is.

    Wow your a disgusting lunatic - hope you don't have children. Also hope you can find a shrink who'll give you a touch of humanity.

  35. Richard 12 Silver badge

    How long before a 'vetted' person commits an act of child abuse?

    And once someone who has been 'vetted' is convicted of a 'barrable' offence, how efficient will they be at alerting the organisations that they volunteer or work for of this?

    The minister for the Dept of Children Schools and Families said the vetting is a 'once-in-a-lifetime' thing, thus they don't ever need to reapply and just keep showing the certificate.

    A single oversight will make the headlines.

    It is therefore absolutely certain that the ISA will fail quite spectacularly within a fairly short period of time.

    Oh, and she also said that contact "twice a month" would require vetting. This increases the numbers needing vetting quite spectacularly.

    Or it completely destroys almost every after-school hours organisation, as nobody wants to volunteer to help at the bake sale or any other regular event. Congratulations New Labour, you've destroyed Scouting, Youth Sports Clubs, Cadets...

    I hope you're happy now.

  36. william henderson 1
    Thumb Down

    frank zappa

    total criminalization; here it comes

  37. Chris Hawkins

    Home Office shifts feet as vetting database looms

    The other point no one yet seems to have picked up on is that with unemployment up at high levels and not possibly due to come down for years, those who chose not to be vetted or those on the list who might just be naughty boys and girls with a few dirty photos, will find yet another block on the road to finding employment. The result either the taxpayer will have to pick the price for supporting them on the dole because they can't get a job, or pick up the price for keeping them in jail, when they go off the edge because they can't get a job!! Up go taxes to pay for the database and these support costs..

    The general public needs to get real. Life is harsh at times. Things happen. The state can't protect us from everything. We can and must to our best within reason to protect the young and elderly. However, the creation of yet another monstrous bureaucracy is off the planet.

    The ongoing and increasing knee-jerk populist reaction by politicians to the baying hounds of the western media and lobby groups is frightening.

    The solution is definitely unpolitically correct, but would work. Bring back hard labour and the death penalty for the most heinous of these type of crimes...(Sod the EU treaties on this.) Bring back profiling! The solution is more real policing on the beat and in the community, not vast Big Brother databases administered by faceless bureaucrats who, as as fast as you can say cd, will leave a usb stick with the entire database lying around on some train or bus.

    It is not just in the UK this is happening. The case of the Italian father arrested in Brazil for kissing his own daughter while on the beach in the presence of the mother is unreal.

    As a ageing single hetero-male who has never had kids and probably now will not, I can tell you that if I was in my 20's or 30's today, I'd say sod marriage, sod volunteering my time to help youth, leave me alone with my PC or my dog, and probably ostracise any friends who had kids younger than 18. An increasing number of men are thinking this way, and the implications in 10 years or so time of a sizeable unattached male minority in society reacting against political correctness is something neither politicians nor bureaucrats are capable of imagining or thinking about.

  38. Skymonrie

    What about education?

    Now be honest everyone, when you were back at school; there were times you wanted to be anywhere but at school.

    A simple remedy to this, grass on your teacher and quite simply even with an allegation, they are dust. Children these days are brought up to be like Damien from the Exorcist as it is; what's going to happen when we have no teachers?!

    I can only hazard a guess that conditions will get worse meanwhile, the child molesters will go unchecked because this scheme quite frankly SUCKS! Whatever happened to taking someone out behind the sheds and beating them for committing acts of a Heinous nature?

    Those that get caught sit in prison playing Playstation 3 on big plasma screens, those that don't simply carry on. The people in the middle are the only ones to truely suffer guilty of only one thing, shrugging at moments like these when we should be putting fear in to the government, not receiving it!

  39. Sordid Details
    Thumb Down

    No smoke without fire?

    I drive kids around from time to time, for school, church, and my son's Cub Scout group (yes, I've been CRB checked for all three) so I guess I'd be required to register with this. I'm not going to do it on principle. Too bad for the kids, but I do think the people who are directly affected by this draconian backdoor Stalinism need to stand up to this spineless government and say 'Enough'.

    My worry is that if I say 'no' then people will think I have something to hide. That will get recorded as 'soft information' and I'll probably end up on the database anyway - negatively not positively.

    I'd laugh, but it's gone beyond being a joke now.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Don't Panic People!

    The thought police amongst us just have to keep an eye out for MP's who give children a lift, and make sure they are brought to account in the newspapers.

    The one thing that MP's really hate is when they get adverse publicity by having the torch shone in their direction.

  41. Richard Porter

    How many Sohams were there?

    One. Will there be another? Maybe, but the circumstances will be different.

    Did Huntley have a previous conviction? No, though he had been suspected.

    There have been other child murders, but usually by parents, family or step-family members with no criminal record. Often the social services could have done something but didn't.

    This horrendous database is a gross over-reaction to a unique incident that is unlikely to be repeated. If it had any credibility it would give a totally false sense of security. The next outrage will be committed by somebody who has been vetted, and of course something will have to be done.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And another thing...

    You can bet that the entire content of this database, ie peoples' names, addresses, bank details, inside leg measurement will end up being burnt to a CD-R and left on a train.

    Would I ever volunteer to work with the Scouts/Cadets/random youth group? No.

  43. Sillyfellow

    cannot include unsubstantiated allegations

    ahem.. 'unsubstantiated allegations' cannot be included. say someone falsely accuses another just because he/she's bitter about something unrelated. this is never 'substantiated'. and now you tell me that false accusation is not only recorded permanently, but then used 'as part of' determining 'suitability', resulting in 'unsuitability' to be near any child? ridiculous. would never hold up in court.. oh, i forgot, gvt will make some new 'retrospective' (cough cough) law or other to cover that no doubt.

    who will be 'exempt' from these checks? MPs? politicians? police?

    what kind of law is it when it doesn't apply to the ones who made it? what gives them this right? are they somehow better, more deserving, and more trustworthy (cough cHoKE) than the rest of us? BOGUS !!!

    thank you for listening.

  44. Paul 87

    Worst Part is

    The government is basically saying that in fact people are inherantly guilty until proven innocent. I haven't heard that line since RE class was teaching the concept of Original Sin...

    What's worse is it gives an entirely false sense of security to parents, no one can guarentee the furture actions of person and it's foolhardy to assume this makes children any safer than parents actually taking responsibility for the safety of their children!

  45. Suburban Inmate

    I've just realised another possible effect.

    Paedos will simply integrate themselves into "alternative" communities, hippy communes, travellers, or perhaps even close knit isolated villages where everyone knows everyone and they likely wouldn't bother with checks as even the club/association/playgroup would be informal in nature.

    I base that on the following example of a similar "clampdown":

    The rave/free party scene with the Criminal Justice act, which made certain music illegal. Yes, that's right, the UK government outlawed certain SOUNDS! The guvment clamped down on them (the generally peaceful lot who just wanted to have a good time) leaving criminals to fill the gap. Bingo, a massive boost to organised criminals, and the parties were shit. Many members of the original scene just buggered off elsewhere. There's quite a few in Portugal, for instance. Back then the excuse was all the eeeeevil drugs... much better that people go to extortionate sweaty cattle-market nightclubs where the only drug available is nice safe fluffy peaceful non-toxic non-addictive ethanol.

    Luckily, the odd bit of field based boogeying can still be had when the plod are kept busy by the clubs and pubs:

    I'd have that freedom, acceptance of non-conformity, and fantastic value-for-money over nightclubs any day! Of course, slipping the farmer a few quid is reasonable, but would the police ever give permission for the event? Hell no! That's why they turn up, get set up, and then (usually) the only thing the cops can do is keep an eye on things and make sure nobody's driving home still off their bollocks. (which is perfectly reasonable of them)

    At uktek 2006 they kicked everyone off the site in the middle of the cleanup at the end then ran straight to the news crews saying "Look what a mess they've left, those filthy little druggies!" Still, it was a fucking epic weekend :-D

    Yeah, the one with the van keys and the ferry ticket, cheers!

  46. dreamingspire
    Thumb Down


    The O'Brien R4 interview and the Baroness Whatsit interview and the Reg story all show what a muddle this is - and thus how dangerous. Humph never got to find out that the CRB checks continue. The idea that the new vetting is a one-off is laughable - like the CRB, its a snapshot. How then will the new vetting certificate be updated as and when new "information" is garnered?

    One thing was clear, though: if you are only volunteering, the new vetting check is free - cue a sudden realisation that the vetting authority can't cope, so the volunteers are left in limbo for months. And will your volunteer's certificate show that you got it as a freebie? Should you, like a police officer, have to wear it's serial number on your shoulder? Or produce it on demand? - yes, its an ID card.

    I think that recently I have detected in my neighbourhood a more relaxed attitude by parents about their small children, but this new "service" will bring back the fear and guilt.

  47. Neoc

    I just don't get it...

    In Australia, there is something known as the Bluecard system (because the card is, well, blue). The Government has designated some professions as requiring such a Bluecard be issued to its members.

    Speaking as one who was involved in the software, what does it involve?

    When you apply for a Bluecard your details are checked against the local State-level system against *certain types of crimes* for which you have been proven guilty (or have admitted to in order to avoid lengthy prosecution). While the local system does that, it has also submitted your name to the *federal* system for checks against other jurisdictions (for the same categories of crimes). Assuming nothing pops back out of the system, your card is approved and you are placed on a "watchlist" where the system regularly makes sure you haven't committed one of the 31-crash-and-burns (so to speak) since you had your card issued. Once your card is expired (every 12 months) or revoked, you are removed from the watchlist and thus are no longer checked until such time as you apply for a new card. In other words, you aren't so much "approved" as "not rejected" (i.e., "innocent" until "found guilty"). And the crime categories being checked were pretty specific.

    Simple system; it took us all of 8 months to analyse, design and implement it (a fair chunk of that time was negotiating bandwidth to the federal system). *And* we bitched about how the batch-job latencies meant that a Bluecard check could take up to 36 hours (as opposed to an *Australia-wide* fingerprint check I also worked on which takes 15 minutes max) to process.

    The UK government's system would be laughable if it wasn't so tragic.

  48. Andy 97

    A step too far

    While I agree children must be protected, we don't live in a society packed full of child molesters.

    This is another example of how a failing government is trying to control the population.

    Talk about the stupidity of educated people.

    The freaks that want to abuse children will just go underground and it will become more difficult to track them.

    Well done unelected government, another triumph.

  49. Gordon Ross Silver badge
    Big Brother

    @Missing masses

    Even better: Why not make it law that before you become a parent, you have to pass the vetting process(es) ?

  50. John Square

    Been here before....

    Go on, I dare you- tell me that this isn't the same thing.

    Any bets on when spectral evidence is allowed (regression therapy/suppressed memory, perhaps?)

  51. Juillen 1

    @Tom 15

    No idea what you're smoking there. If you have a new system that replaces an old one, then you usually switch off the old one when the new one goes live. Otherwise you're doing double entry, with increased chances of mis-synchronising the data (and one system or the other will be producing false data).

    Yes, common sense needs to be applied, and common sense says this new database should never be implemented ("soft intelligence" used to deny people jobs? That really is like a story from old Soviet Russia where someone ratted to the KGB, and you found your life screwed. No evidence, no comeback, apart from maybe a tribunal that looks through text you're not allowed to see from someone you're not allowed to know about, who in the end says "It sticks as is").

    What is needed is scientific planning, and a proof that this will do what it intends. however, speaking as someone who vets and runs medical databases, I can guarantee you that this does not meet those critera The processes in place are hopelessly inadequate, and the "Signal to noise" ration is huge. However, the "noise" component is sufficient to wreck your life.

    As for things being used with more common sense. CCTV and tracking people's bin habits, which school they go to an other spying? Anti terror laws used to detain people who want to take photos in a street?

    No, this will inevitably lead to abuse. Very serious abuse. People are people, and there are always the nasty ones that are attracted to power just to play with people, and what better lure than this? When malicious gossip lets you ruin a life, then the bitter twisted people win; there is NO pressure to be 'good' in this action (or indeed, scope for it either). There is only a win if you're a malicious gossip that doesn't like other people, so you get to make them miserable.

    To cure the ills that this was conceived to address, better linking of police systems would have done the trick (called "Fixing the working and trusted system"), not implementing something that doesn't address anything really, or help in any calculable way ("commonly called 'The MD has beent taken out to lunch and shown some shiny brocures of shiny things'"). There is no scientific merit in this system. And the thing with common sense is that it's not very common.. Especially amongst politicians that seem to bandy it around at the moment (they're very much of the type a few hundred years ago that said "The earth is flat. The Sun revolves around the Earth.. It's common sense, and everyone knows it.. You disagree, so you need to be punished, jailed and branded a heretic. Maybe burned at the stake too, as that would be common sense.").

  52. Alfonso Vespucci

    What Humphries didn't ask

    was what will get you barred from taking a car full of kids to football training?

    A conviction for drink driving 5 years ago?

    A caution for posession of cannabis 10 years ago?

    An acquittal for domestic violence?

    A groundless allegation from when you taught in the 80s?

    If the ISA is anything like the CRB in "erring on the side of caution" my guess is any of the above.

  53. Paul 4

    RE:the problem is.

    See Icon.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I refused an ISA check and am now a 'pedophile'

    My company is quite laudably trying to improve its contribution to the local community by supporting a reading programme in local schools. This involves employees spending a few hours every month at local schools helping children with reading difficulties.

    I thought this was a great idea and volunteered to help. However I subsequently found out that it was assumed that I am a pedophile and that I must submit myself to a check from the ISA. I take my privacy very seriously and don't want to be subjected to an ISA check. I have nothing to hide, I have no criminal convictions and no allegations have ever been made about me, I simply don't agree to being treated like a potential child molester. As a result, I decided to withdraw from the programme.

    Wouldn't you know it, I have now become aware of a nasty rumour in my workplace that 'some people' have been 'scared off' from helping out in the reading programme because they are afraid of being vetted. This is exactly the kind of divisive behaviour that the ISA check breeds. I, along with a number of other people have essentially been accused of being child molesters because we have not agreed to subject ourselves to this 'test'. It reminds me of medieval witch trials.

    Some of the posters above have said that this kind of thing is the future - believe me, it is very much the present and will only get worse.

  55. Nigel 11

    What will happen now?

    I expect that a large number of voluntary organisations will shut their doors to non-adults (under 18) because of the financial cost and cost to their member's privacy of complying with the new rules.

    I expect that a number of people will refuse to be vetted (or at least will refuse to complete a form that intrudes on their privacy), and will therefore cease to be able to support voluntary activities involving children. It's very likely that these organisations will then end up closing their doors, as they'll no longer have sufficient manpower to continue.

    The end result will be children loitering on street corners for lack of anything else to do, falling into the clutches of criminal gangs and sexual perverts. This will cost uncounted children their innocensce or their very lives. But this may not be the worst of it.

    Several branches of my extended family are today extinct, because the information voluntarily provided in the years 1890-1920 made it so very easy for the Nazis to organise their genocide in 1940. That genocide included the children. A worse form of child abuse is impossible to imagine.

    You have been warned. Those who fail to learn the lessons of history, are doomed to re-live them. I just hope, not in my lifetime, but I fear for future generations. Once the data is collected, it will never be un-collected.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Having screwed the economy, what can Govt. screw up next...

    I'm afraid this is probably going to win the "longest posting" prize...

    There are over 3000 comments on BBC's "Have your Say" website following Friday's Radio 4 "Today" story about the ISA Vetting and Barring Scheme, most disagree with the scheme.

    It which seems in many respects just to be an extension of CRB, a third level of checking, less detailed then the two levels of CRB.

    I had a CRB check in order to work as a volunteer with teenagers (actually ECRB, the enhanced version which includes "soft" evidence which can be hearsay and unsubstantiated opinion). I was cleared and have been doing that work for a few years, however I have a substantial list of concerns:

    In my opinion CRB is nothing more or less than a scam to that was set up give some of Blair's buddies (Capita CEO, Labour party donor) cozy jobs and to create the impression that the Government was "doing something".

    The CRB is not transferrable. A friend applying for teaching jobs needed a new check for each job.

    Similarly if I moved to a different youth group I'd need a repeat CRB check.

    They have an unacceptable "error rate" - but we only get to hear about the errors which disadvantage the applicant, if there's an error passing someone as OK who shouldn't be, who will ever know? Is the applicant going to complain? No, they're teaching your kids.

    There is no "recall" process so a woman who gets a paedophile conviction the day after getting the CRB cleared is looking after your kids.

    I have heard that most offences (92%?) against children are committed by family members and close family friends - they aren't subject to CRB/ISA checks (yet?).

    The check only discovers evidence that is on record. Personally I'd regard as potentially unsuitable to work with children someone who pays for photos of scantily clad young ladies as featured in some of our less reputable newspapers.

    As a parent I cannot obtain a CRB check for an uncle, nanny or babysitter so the law is unconcerned about one of the highest risk situations: leaving a sole child alone with a sole carer, no third party to intervene or report inappropriate behaviour.

    I don't like being "presumed guilty until proved innocent" but in any case the CRB check doesn't prove anything but that the applicant has never been CAUGHT doing anything that might appear on their record. I don't care if a government minister tells me otherwise, he may as well tell me the moon is made of cheese, I feel there's a presumption of guilt and that was enhanced when I started as a volunteer. For the several weeks wait for the CRB check to be completed I was not allowed to work with the kids - what clearer "presumption of guilt" could there be?

    Defenders of the system say "it doesn't deter volunteers". That's just not true. When I signed up as a volunteer I did so before I was advised that there would be a CRB check, not really being fully aware of the scheme. Had I been told that before making the committment I would not have offered my services. I suspect there are many people who have something on their Police record, not material to the role they are seeking and yet which they'd prefer not to be brought to the attention of their future supervisor (smoking a joint or a motoring offence when much younger). I think a police warning for drunken behaviour when one was at university would appear on the ECRB check. How that would be interpreted - would it bar the applicant from working with kids? Either way I guess the applicant would be embarrassed to have that information disclosed and so would be deterred. I'm told there's already a shortage of volunteers for tasks such as Scout/Guide leaders. Scouts have a waiting list of 30,000 youngsters not able to join because there aren't enough adults to look after them.

    I think the effect of CRB checks is damaging to kids. The fee is a drain on the resources of volunteer organisations - money that should be being spent on enrichment activities for kids.

    Where do kids from disfunctional families find their role models? The entire community has a role to play in raising kids. CRB just constitutes a further obstacle. I can't ask a parent to help out by transporting a bunch of kids because that will involve getting a CRB check and, yes, some checks may only take a few days but others can take many weeks or months. Kids organisations have a high turnover, some kids join and find it's not for them. Parent volunteers are unlikely to stick around if their kids have quit.

    Extending the number of adults children are involved with in one way or another is an essential part of their upbringing and safety. In my organisation we are aware that some kids come from difficult backgrounds and we are alert to the need to take appropriate action if we have any concerns. The more such different environments kids are involved with the greater the chance that a third party will identify a concern and that there will be an adult the kid feels able to approach with their concerns.

    It's interesting that the story comes in the same week as the conviction of two young Doncaster boys for the horrific acts of violence committed against two other boys. CRB checks did nothing to help those victims. One result of the CRB system is to increase youth disaffection leading to more such disfunctional kids. If those offending boys had some more interesting options to fill their empty days than hanging around on street corners looking for weaker kids to rob maybe things would have been different. Contact with more adults might result in the difficult behaviours being identified and a remedial response being initiatiated.

    In fact ISA/CRB is in some respects a cover-up for the failure of social services to address the REAL risks to kids: bad parenting. How stupid to respond to that by further restricting those kids' involvement with other potential figures of authority, support, role models and often experienced parents that do have parenting skills.

    Judging from press coverage the decisions to implement both the CRB and the new ISA Vetting and Barring Scheme scheme have been based on anecdotes, "expert opinion", and government's need to be seen to be doing something (while afraid to tackle the issue of problem parents). There are some dodgy statistics being thrown around: "In a survey 91% of adults agreed that people working with kids should be vetted" is represented as meaning "CRB checks don't deter volunteers" (and we all know that survey results are easily manipulated by the phrasing and context of the questions and the make up and size of the group surveyed).

    What are the figures for child abuse cases before and since introduction of CRB? - in particular if those statistics are broken down by type of offender into: child on child, family and close friends, and the collection of groups which may fall into CRB check territory such as teachers, youth workers, sports coaches, ministers of religion.

    Also, what has been the change in offences committed by youngsters?

    By the way, when a kid in our group reaches 18 she needs a CRB or has to leave (they can stay till 21). After 18 she cannot share a tent with a kid under 18. On the other hand the two Doncaster boys were about 11 so no problem if one of them wants to share a tent with your kid...

    One response to negative comments about CRB/ISA has been "If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. So why do the police need a search warrant, why can't they just come to my house whenever they please and search my private papers, my computer. Suppose they found an illegally downloaded music track - better report that to the PRS - and a dodgy copy of a movie on DVD? They guy's clearly a crook...

    No material evidence? while they're here why not strap me to a lie detector and show me some porn, sweaty skin or a change in brain activity means I'm stimulated and so I must be a pervert. By saying in defence of CRB/ISA "if I've nothing to hide I've nothing to fear..." you smear me, I have nothing to hide but my privacy, I have something to fear, a police state.

    Would a different political party take a different view? I doubt any would have the courage to face the storm of indignant protest from the mollycoddling brigade. They'd be branded as "friends of the paedoes". The best we can hope for is to give youth groups the OPTION of requiring CRB/ISA checks and require that parents are advised of the organisation's policies.

    I'd quite like to see a government that manages the economy on a sound basis and whose members don't fiddle their expenses. Maybe if they didn't spend their time trying (and failing) to micro-manage every aspect of every citizens llife they'd have time to focus on the economy.

  57. Norman 2

    Transport next?

    Remember that if only one child is saved then it will all be worth while. (they say to justify yet another database)

    Next will be motorists (how many lives could be saved there?)

    Then aeroplanes and trains etc.

  58. James Hughes 1

    Jobseekers allowance

    Depending on how many people fail the test (for whatever reason - usually irrelevant), the government is going to have to cough up a lot of money in jobseekers allowance, as more and more of the populace becomes unemployable because of this stuff.

    Let's say 10 times the current figure.

    That's going to cost a lot.

  59. Anonymous Coward

    DDA vs ISA

    @Nigel 11

    "I expect that a large number of voluntary organisations will shut their doors to non-adults (under 18) because of the financial cost and cost to their member's privacy of complying with the new rules."

    At our local cycling club we are likely to be in the situation where we have to ban disabled riders (a 'vulnerable group') for the same reason. Oh wait, DDA says we're not allowed to do that...

  60. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    @Neoc @Nigel 11 AC@09:12


    Sounds a nice system but you've missed a few points about the British system.

    It's meant to regulate *all* interactions. Not just professionals in specific fields. The Government admit to likely covering >11m people (Reg estimates 14-16m) which I think is greater than the whole population of Aus.

    It has little to do with safeguarding people and a lot to do with populating another huge database for some civil servants data collection fetish.

    @Nigel 11

    "Several branches of my extended family are today extinct, because the information voluntarily provided in the years 1890-1920 made it so very easy for the Nazis to organise their genocide in 1940. "

    IBM Germany provided that particular "Solution." You might care to check whose running this one.

    "Once the data is collected, it will never be un-collected."

    Exactly. Even if you trust the presnet administration, can you trust all future ones as well?


    "Wouldn't you know it, I have now become aware of a nasty rumour in my workplace that 'some people' have been 'scared off' from helping out in the reading programme because they are afraid of being vetted. "

    And so it begins. Welcome to the future.

    Anything to hide. Yes, your privacy.

    Anything to fear. Yes, a police state of power crazed unelected jobsworths.

  61. Anonymous Coward

    Welcome to the nanny state

    This has just reminded me of a change I need to make to recruitment policy on the volunteer radio station I run, over 18s only from now on. I've been through a number of CRB checks before, but with these increased requirements, although I'm sure I'll pass no problem, they step over the line, invading my privacy just a little bit too much. I also won't be volunteering for anything involving children in future due to this.

    As others have said, I see a number of volunteer groups going to the wall if keep going with these plans and little gain from them.

    Fail icon, because that's what the current gov do best

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's dumb

    I help out at a club and I am about to arrange *another* round of CRB checks for everyone as the law is, frankly, an ass and our governing body and council do not help matters one bit. Anyway....

    The situation we have is this. *ANY* adult with the kids must be checked. If that adult is the child's parent, it makes no odds. They *MUST* be checked. So to remain with their kids, all the parents have to go through these checks if want to come to the club. If they don't have these checks, then we are in breach.

    Of course, this only applies to the club and it is perfectly OK for us to return the kids to the same adults (kiddy fiddlers or no) at the end the session without any checks; as it is then not part of the club. It's nuts and does nothing to improve child safety.

    And that raises another question - does child safety even need to be improved? Is the situation from predators (who are usually relatives) any worse now? Or is it just the mee-ja whipping up another storm to sell their rot?

  63. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    Yet another step towards an Orwellian Police State society...

    For a start, its not actually a protective database because its instead a database to protect other children *after* some have already been attacked, to then hopefully stop other public attacks. In this case, prison would be a far more effective form of protection than any database. Plus this database also fails to protect the vast majority of children in danger at home from the minority of parents who are the abusers. The database can only reduce (but doesn't stop) the chances of *high profile* attacks in public, which are the minority of attacks. (Thats a political goal as they want it to appear to us all as if they are stopping the attacks). So this database stops a small percentage of the attacks and completely fails to protect the vast majority at risk. Plus it then places yet another level of control over us all with many scary ways to quietly allow ever more government feature creep to make it even worse. So it doesn't work as they intend (or say) and on top of that it allows ever more government data gathering.

    Simon 40: "NuLabour are trying to establish stink of a common architect, an architect who wants to control." ... The problem is once NuLabour are thrown out, the conservatives are very likely to just keep using what NuLabour have setup to maintain control. They can then blame any negative press on NuLabour. This is because all politicians regardless of which party they are in, are at their core, people who seek political power over others and ever improving technology gives ever increasing power to control people, because knowledge as we all know is power. Plus in seeking power they by definition seek to be the people who make the choices for others, but that also means as their power increases, everyone else looses ever more freedom and technology is continuing to increase and so their power is increasing. After all, the act of seeking power over others, is also the act of seeking to deprive others of the power to choose for themselves, as the power seekers want to be the ones who make the choices for everyone (and then they personally gain from having power over others and their personal gain is increasing as we loose freedom). Also if they fail to seek power at every opportunity in the highly competitive environment of politics, then other politicians will out maneuver them and gain power over them, so they are locked in an endless struggle for ever more power and so the most power driven politicians inevitably fight to get to the highest jobs with the most power to control us all. Therefore all politicians regardless of party, all ultimately seek to control us all. (If they don't others throw them out who do want power).

    So combine their ever present need to control to gain power over others with ever improving technology, (such as improving research in data mining) and we get an overall trend towards a world where the people in power (in every country) are gaining ever greater power to monitor, manipulate, punish and control the lives of us all. That also means any mistakes they make have increasing potential to cause increasing harm to people. For example, imagine the damage that could be caused by someone accidentally being put on this database. Plus that is before you add in government feature creep where ever more reasons to monitor people will be added to ever more databases opening up the data to ever more people. Plus "accidentally" placing a political opponent on this database is a very powerful way to totally destroy them and even after they fight to clear their name the damage has been done and they have been stopped from being an political opponent. With ever improving technology the 1998 film "Enemy of the State" is starting to look like a documentary.

    Plus if that isn't bad enough, it will continue to get ever worse, because information technology will continue to improve and the relentless power seekers (in every party, in every country) will continue to fight each other to gain ever more ways to win control over us all and in doing so, all the time our remaining freedom is slowly being destroyed. Sooner or later such an unfair control would normally trigger a full scale revolution in previous centuries, but now with ever improving technology to spy on us all, they will be able to silence and punish ever more. So as time passes the book 1984 starts to look ever more like a documentary as well. :(

    Plus if all that isn't scary enough, people with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder have a competitive advantage in fighting for power over others, as their self centered attitude gives them a competitive advantage in the highly competitive environment of politics. Which sadly also explains why they so often fail to see they are wrong and why they fail to show empathy towards others.

    So it sadly looks like we have all the ingredients we need to force us all into some very scary times ahead. :(

  64. Anonymous Coward

    What If?... A Different Approach

    Ian Huntley invited Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman into his house when they passed by.

    What if they'd said, "No, thanks. We're not allowed into other people's homes without our parents' permission"? What if they'd simply declined to enter his house?

    They'd still be alive today, wouldn't they?

    This Vetting and Barring Scam simply wouldn't have saved them. Maybe Huntley wouldn't have been a caretaker (at another school), but he could still have shared a house with Maxine Carr. He could still have invited those two girls into his house. He could still have murdered them.

    But if those two girls had been taught not to go into other people's houses without their own parents' permission, and if they'd actually done as taught, they'd almost certainly still be alive.

    When I was young, Charlie said, "Never go with strangers":

    A far better approach - not perfect, but far better than this evil Big Brother nonsense - is to do a proper job of educating children regarding the dangers posed by would-be child molesters, murderers, and the like. (For a government obsessed with sending messages, "PR" propaganda, etc, I would have thought this would be obvious?)

    Firstly, proper education will help children keep themselves out of danger. Shouldn't that be a basic part of a child's upbringing anyway? Shouldn't that already be one of the most basic parts of education? Teach them - repeatedly - not to go with strangers, not to go off with familiar people in unfamiliar contexts, etc, and there will be fewer opportunities for those who would harm children to do so.

    Secondly - and this is perhaps more important - if children are brought up and educated about abuse and the need to report it, then those who would abuse them face greater risks of getting caught as a result. If children are repeatedly taught about what the signs of abuse are, how to report it, who to report it to, and so on, then the very children who would be abused themselves become the deterrent. Such education needs to be ongoing, since abusers will seek to adapt, but if abusers know they face the very real risk of the children themselves blowing the whistle, it will deter at least some of the abusers, and stop at least some of the abuse.

    It also means more abuse gets reported, more abuse gets investigated, more abusers get stopped. Even if an abuser isn't convicted, such investigation may be enough to deter them in future.

    Ultimately, because of how child abuse works, it will always be the children themselves who will be on the front line against child abuse. That might be frightening, disgusting, etc, but it's the abusers themselves who make sure that that's how it is. It's simply a part of the abuse itself that the children themselves are ultimately on the front line. That's why it's absolutely essential that children be adequately prepared, adequately educated, on how to deal with such abuse, actual and potential.

    Education, education, education.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    By the way...

    Anon wrote: Education, education, education.

    How true, but did you know that Bliar didn't originate that phrase it is a rough translation from Lenin.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OK - I givin - who is NuLabour?

    They certainly do not seem to be from this part of the Western hemisphere. More the old Russian block - control the people -control the masses and those in high power reap the benefits.

    In future no more elections for the common people because those in power know what's best!

  67. Bumbling Fool

    There has to be **some** system

    I don't think many would disagree with the principle that there should be some check made on those who have frequent contact with children. As a parent I'd like to have some measure of assurance in the people my kids interact with.

    But it seems to me that it's actually quite a difficult thing to get right, and despite my deep misgivings about the current vetting schemes in the UK, I'm not sure I have a better, or more effective proposal.

    What seems to be lacking in the discussions I've seen, and that's not a criticism of the comments on here by the way, is evidence. What is the extent of the problem? Just how much at risk are our kids under the old system? How does the new system mitigate that risk?

    The current scheme seems like a bit of a sledgehammer cracking a nut. I know the media have turned us into a paranoid society where pervy men lurk round every corner just waiting to abduct and abuse our children - but just how accurate is this perception? Not very, I would suggest.

    And that's the problem - these measures seem more designed to lower the **perception** of risk without doing very much to lower the **actual** risk.

    Just because someone has a criminal record does this make them a danger to our kids? Doesn't it rather depend on the nature of their previous offence or offences? So whilst an employer might well baulk at employing someone who, as a youth, was nicked for a spot of burglary, does this automatically mean that they are a danger to kids?

    It seems that the CRB system and the enhanced system for protection of our kids are quite different and with quite different purposes. Maybe I've misunderstood the proposals, but it seems that the enhanced checks are not particularly well targetted.

    And as for the inclusion of hearsay and allegation - well the mind just boggles. What moron thought that this was a good idea? I despair at times.

    So yes - let's have a vetting system by all means - but for heaven's sake, the crude scattergun approach that will be implemented is just plain idiocy. Our kids deserve better than the current set of blithering idiots that seem to be running our country. But some of these people are not stupid - far from it - which does make me wonder about hidden agendas here, and I'm not normally one given to conspiracy-style reasoning.

    We need some system of vetting, but it has to be reasonable, proportionate, targetted, and efficient. I'm pretty sure, given the evidence and requirements, most of the folk who read El Reg could come up with a better system than the government is going ahead with.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Soft Intelligence

    Soft intelligence is the real danger lurking in this one.

    I once had a key role in the running of two youth clubs catering for ages 5 - 12 and 13 - 18. Very successfully.

    Was then entirely falsely accused (by the local school) of abusing one of my children by starving him. I rapidly discovered how the "Child Protection" system works with the same "professionals" acting as accusers, prosecution, judge, jury and executive agency and with "soft intelligence" acquiring the same status as "fact" when laundered through a "professional" and becoming "a professional opinion." I have in my possession a letter from the BMA stating that a doctor who gave an untruthful communication to prosecution authorities did nothing wrong. A teacher who was witnessed actually dragging the said child along the floor by his feet, head stotting off the floor was judged to have done nothing actionable.

    To cut a long story short, the case collapsed when the child was diagnosed with coeliac disease. Two teachers were moved to other schools. One school nurse was moved elsewhere. The (acting senior) social worker (in his late 50s) is no longer a social worker of any variety and was last seen working as a labourer to a double glazing fitter. The lying police officer at the heart of the case is no longer in child protection work. The senior paediatrician involved (based at a hospital where the records of the child concerned had been illicitly removed from the Records Office for a time and had been mysteriously tampered with -- easily confirmed by comparison with duplicate copies retrieved from other agencies under Data Protection legislation) and the Community Paediatrician have gone away to New Zealand. An untruthful GP and an untruthful Chief Constable, however, have got off the hook.

    And of course the Child was removed from the Child Protection Register when they realised the game was up. But not one of the culprits has admitted wrongdoing in any way, shape or form.

    And the bottom line is that the allegation still has not been withdrawn and stands on the Education, Social Work, Police and Medical records. Indeed, it's been trotted out again in an application for guardianship involving a mentally-handicapped relative.

    The Youth Clubs? I suspended them as soon as the allegations were made against me. And no, I haven't restarted them. The kids in the community have no youth clubs now. Who'd risk running them?

    Co-operate with the police now? Far too risky -- better to steer clear of them at all costs.

    And what if I hadn't been one of the articulate middle class well able to call on support of a very telling variety? Where would I be -- yet another innocent behind bars?

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    There has to be some system ??

    I know the media have turned us into a paranoid society where pervy men lurk round every corner just waiting to abduct and abuse our children - but just how accurate is this perception? Not very, I would suggest.

    And that's the problem - these measures seem more designed to lower the **perception** of risk without doing very much to lower the **actual** risk.

    Bumbling Fool wrote

    "I know the media have turned us into a paranoid society where pervy men lurk round every corner just waiting to abduct and abuse our children - but just how accurate is this perception? Not very, I would suggest."

    You're probably right, but remember that abuse is carried out by women as well -- it may take slightly different forms and it's certainly politically incorrect to allege it, but that doesn't stop the reality, as my own family has (sadly) good reason to know.

    Bumbling Fool also wrote

    "And as for the inclusion of hearsay and allegation - well the mind just boggles. What moron thought that this was a good idea? "

    Sadly, nothing new about that. That's the way the current "Child Protection" system works. No legal standard of proof required and hearsay acquires a status equal to fact when it becomes "professional opinion" on being laundered through a professional at a meeting of agencies.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Opus Dei - Original Sin

    Worst Part is #

    By Paul 87 Posted Sunday 13th September 2009 11:14 GMT

    The government is basically saying that in fact people are inherantly guilty until proven innocent. I haven't heard that line since RE class was teaching the concept of Original Sin...

    Nail -> Head

    The catholics have taken over the asylum

  71. EvilGav 1


    The tired comment of "this would have prevented Soham".

    How, exactly ? Huntley didn't work at the girls' school, he worked at another one (this fact is irrelevant, as he didn't attack a child from the school he was working at). Huntley's girl-friend worked at the school with the girls, which is where the contact came from.

    She would have passed an eCRB check.

    I've not checked, but are church based groups included in requiring checks ? Choir, Sunday school etc ?

    I mean, thats a group that, as a whole, have more paedophile convictions and controversy than any other.

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rocking horse nursery

    In the news currently because some kids acquired fractured bones and an allegation of sexual assault. Staff there must have all been CRB checked, further evidence that the system doesn't work.

    BTW lots of misunderstandings about the ISA. I believe the aim has some merit. It does address some of the shortcomings of CRB and builds on that. The real problem is not the ISA but the underlying CRB check on which it depends.

    This is my understanding (may not be 100% right).

    An ISA costs £64, that's comprised of a £28 fee to cover the new ISA cost and £36 to cover the CRB costs. (So the "free for volunteers" seems to relate only to the £28 ISA element).

    The first time an ISA is applied for the Independent Safeguarding Authority apply for a CRB check for that individual. The ISA use that to give a "pass/fail" result but do not disclose any of the CRB information to the employer.

    Therafter the ISA database is kept up to date. Any new information that comes to light about someone on the register may result in their removal and anyone who is recorded as employing that person is advised of their changed status.

    This does address some of the problems with CRB (e.g. disclosure of irrelevant unnecessary and possibly intrusive personal information to employers. CRBs failure to provide updates should an individual's status change.)

    What it fails to address is:

    That most offences have always been by close friends and family.

    Persons with CRB checks are still capable of misdemeanours (e.g. Rocking Horse nursery).

    The underlying CRB check is still required and sometimes take weeks during which time individuals are unable to work in their chosen job, economically damaging to them personally and the uncertainty creates an organisational nightmare for a prospective employer.

    The CRB/ISA process places an assumption of guilt on all of us and innocence is unprovable, all the check can show is that there is nothing on record. I have heard people denying that there is an assumption of guilt but were that true applicants would be allowed to work with kids while awaiting CRB clearance.

    Malicious unfounded smears may be recorded, reported on CRB and treated as fact. If you dispute a recorded allegation you have a right not for it to be struck off but to add your own statement in respect of the allegation.

    There is a "quality control" problem with CRB, last year 1500 people were incorrectly identified as representing a risk. (And who will ever know how many people were cleared but should not have been, they probably didn't complain!).

    The case that started this all off, Huntley in Soham would not have been prevented had he been identified by CRB as unsuitable to work with kids. The murders were in a domestic property, the victims were not pupils at the school where he worked.

    Some mixed age clubs and societies will solve the problem simply by closing their doors to under 18s.

    Some organisations heavily dependent on volunteers will cease to operate. I spoke to one

    today who said they didn't want the additional overhead, they felt it was intrusive to ask their volunteers to participate and that even if they did some had already indicated unwillingness.

    The volunteers in that organisation are mostly well-heeled upper middle class middle-aged housewives. I would be utterly astonished if their reluctance to subject themselves to CRB was to hide guilty secrets!

    The analogy I would draw is this:

    When you go on a flight you are subject to a level of checking at the airport. This is for our own safety and we accept it. There remains a significant level of risk. For example, the fluids we are no longer allowed in our hand luggage could be concealed in "body cavities" so it would be in the interests of our own safety to submit to a full body strip search with the "rubber glove" test. Were that the case I suggest rather fewer of us would choose to fly.

    There is little personal benefit to be had from working as a volunteer and so there is no personal benefit in submitting yourself to a CRB check, especially in the light of the knowledge that it is ineffective against the evil it pretends to address. The CRB is a metaphorical equivalent of the rubber glove.

    The simplistic "if you've nothing to hide you've nothing to fear" response contains a partial truth. I do have something to hide, it's called my privacy. I do have something to fear: the increasing interference of the state in every aspect of my life (or in more colourful terms, I fear a police state). The other side of that coin is more sinister, there is an implied "If you don't comply you must have something to hide."

    Just for the record I have had an enhanced CRB check, it came back squeaky clean, not even any unfounded rumours or suspicions. However if the volunteer organisation I work for (military Cadets) asks me to convert to ISA I will use that as a reason to quit because I've had enough anyway, I'm fed up of all the bureaucracy that prevents us doing anything useful with the kids.

    (Come to think of it our MPs did have something to hide and something to fear, they tried to hide their expenses for fear of ridicule and losing their parliamentary seats. We only found out because someone leaked the data to the press. How can these guys have the gall to preach to us and tell us how to run our lives.)

    Even on the government figures the cost of the ISA scheme will be something like £700,000,000 (over 11 million persons to be checked at a cost of £64 each). Think what that money could do were it instead to be spent on enrichment activities to keep kids occupied and interested.

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