back to article Vetting database is mighty maths mess

Home Office estimates for the eventual size of the vetting database look like becoming one of the most inelastic – and therefore least accurate – forecasts in the history of this government’s planning process. Not even a recent announcement that government is considering legislative changes that would eventually force almost …


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  1. John Square

    They had this idea...

    "all young people will undertake some service to their community, and where community service will become a normal part of growing up in Britain"

    In Germany in the 1930's, didn't they?

    (Also- I lived in Reading for a decade, and I think community service for young people was a normal part of growing up then. The Youth Courts forced them to do it, admittedly....)

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Forced Labour and the European Convention on Human Rights

      Forced labour (such as slavery) is usually regarded as a breach of basic human rights. And back in the 19th century, we Brits legislated to abolish slavery (decades ahead of the US). Now we're going the other way.

      Here's Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights:-

      "Article 4 – Prohibition of slavery and forced labour

      1 No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.

      2 No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.

      3 For the purpose of this article the term “forced or compulsory labour” shall not include:

      (a) any work required to be done in the ordinary course of detention imposed according to the provisions of Article 5 of this Convention or during conditional release from such detention;

      (b) any service of a military character or, in case of conscientious objectors in countries where they are recognised, service exacted instead of compulsory military service;

      (c) any service exacted in case of an emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community;

      (d) any work or service which forms part of normal civic obligations."

      So, what grounds from part 3 of Article 4 are Gordon Brown and the aptly-named Labour government relying on for their attempt at forced labour? (No, I don't believe it's voluntary if it's compulsory.)

      It can't be (a), because that would be treating all young people automatically like criminals (though that's rather in keeping with this government's attitude to all of us generally). The proposed community service doesn't form part of a course of detention. (a) simply doesn't apply.

      It can't be (b), because we don't have such military service. There's no military service for this community service to be an alternative to. Anyway, such community service at an alternative to military service would be for conscientious objectors, not simply everyone. (b) clearly doesn't apply.

      It can't be (c), because there is no such emergency or calamity, whatever the Daily Mail might say. The proposal is to have community service as a normal part of life, not something for exceptional circumstances. (c) obviously doesn't apply.

      That leaves (d). That means Gordon Brown and this Forced Labour government must regard such forced labour as "work or service which forms part of normal civic obligations." Brown and the Forced Labour Party might well want it to be seen that way in the future, but that doesn't mean that such forced labour actually does form "part of normal civic obligations." Although, having said that, in a fascist state, forced labour may well form "part of normal civic obligations."

      For such forced labour to be "part of normal civic obligations", it would have to be normal for the state to treat its citizens as state property. That's essentially fascism. In a free country (isn't that what we're supposed to be?), the state does not treat its citizens as state property. In a free country, rather than a fascist one, the state does not generally force its own citizens to work on the state's behalf. (And no, saying it's on the community's behalf, instead of the state's, doesn't change the essential nature of it. It's still entirely in keeping with its essentially fascist nature. Especially as the state takes more and more control of society and communities.)

      The obviously contradictory idea of compulsory, voluntary community service is also very much in keeping with the party slogan, "FREEDOM IS SLAVERY", in Orwell's 1984. That's nicely in keeping with this government's Orwellian tendencies more generally.

      Perhaps the Labour Party, moving on from its "New" Labour phase, should now be called the Forced Labour Party? Or the Fascist Labour Party? They could adopt a fascio as their new party emblem.

  2. irish donkey

    G Cloud Computing

    The advantage with the G Cloud is they can just keep adding names to the list to infinity. It is a infinitively saleable and a perfect solution to the current issues the Government has with delivering IT Solutions.

    ohh . Did I say that out loud. Sorry the official line is your details is safe with us and our cloud computing partners.

    Don't worry people. Google will look after it all for us

  3. Anonymous Coward

    But surely then....

    Assuming most paedophiles aren't paedophiles at age 17-18 (when they would be required to do this 'voluntary' service) but become so later, doesn't this just mean that every future paedophile will be given clearance to work with children, the database will be useless and we'll be back where we started?

    1. Andy ORourke

      Dont worry

      You can almost guarantee that the next job they go to will apply for a new search so until they (finally) get caught they will pose no threat to the children (or rather the politicians can trot out the "yes it's sad but even though he / she was vetted sometimes these evil people slip through the net" line)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    never ending cycle..

    so if we vet everybody, presumably crime will drop drastically and no muslimish, blackish and off-whistish will be let in to the country

    so we can fire all the Police, Blunkett Bunnies, Ticket thumpers and other f***wits in councils of little use...

    who then will commit crimes as they are vetted.. having being vetted we will never suspect ... aaahhh FFF

    should be a simple rule for all this s***e

    if (crime_level_now !< crime_level_before)


    drop the database;

    shoot f***wit who invented it;


    what a F***ing ridiculous country we live in... it's so crooked even the Mafia are afraid to enter

    i'm off....

  5. Anonymous John

    "considering legislative changes"?

    Not needed. The act already defines everyone 18 or over as a vulnerable adult.

    "A person is a vulnerable adult if he has attained the age of 18 and—

    (a) he is in residential accommodation,

    (b) he is in sheltered housing,

    (c) he receives domiciliary care,

    (d) he receives any form of health care,

    (e) he is detained in lawful custody, "

    Even a regular dental check up falls under (d)

    1. I didn't do IT.

      "(e) he is detained in lawful custody,"

      I like this part.

      a) So, if the person is UNlawfully imprisioned, then they don't have to be vetted? Nifty.

      b) And, of course that means as well as taking a sampling of DNA, you get to have all your details researched (without warrant) by having the eCRB done.

      Facism achieved.

  6. Ian 54

    Please consult a DBA

    "The support required for a database of 11 million individuals will be very different to the levels needed for one designed for, say, 16 million". Really? No, seriously, you think that would be "very different"? If you were talking about the difference between 1 million people and a billion, I admit the infrastructure would be a bit different but not for a 50% increase - any IT person with 3 braincells to rub together would allow for an increase in the data held. On the other hand, this is a government IT project, so not too many braincells are likely to be employed...

    Don't forget certain government-employed numpties can lose the details of that many people by leaving a laptop on a train or posting several copies of a CD. I can't imagine there will be gigabytes of data held on each person so a decent laptop should be able to hold everything nicely.

    If you mean number of people to screw up and lose, sorry, I meant enter, protect and administer, the data I agree you'll need a few more, which will help the jobless total a bit, but again, you aren't talking about thousands of data entry people.

    1. martin burns

      Allowing for Increases

      <blockquote>any IT person with 3 braincells to rub together would allow for an increase in the data held</blockquote>

      Yep. However, previous experience with working with suggests that they will explicitly descope such a requirement (and strongly enforce the descoping), in the face of all advice to the contrary.

  7. Paul_Murphy

    I would say that having one person was too many.

    I can see that keeping track of undesirables is a good thing, and identifying 'bad' people quickly is a good thing, but why is treating everyone else like a potential criminal the solution?

    You can imagine the scenario where everyone has to be vetted 'just in case' being put forward, and they will be wanting people to pay for that as well (ka-ching!) I expect, after all if you have nothing to hide....

    I don't suppose I'll be the only one decrying the governments approach to our 'safety'.

    I wonder how many people remember the case of the portsmouth nursery abuse? - where the staff had already passed a vetting check. The point being is what use is vetting anyway? rather than assuming people are Ok because they have passed a test, why not give up on testing and just make sure that people are aware of what to look for in suspicious behaviour and allow our current laws to be used, rather than inventing new laws and regulations..


  8. zephus

    Genuinely curious...

    "at present anyone aged 16 or older who frequently or intensively does regulated activity with children or vulnerable adults must ISA-register."

    How do sixth-formers (um... is that year 12 and 13 now?) fit in with all of this? How about They are after all, in many schools, a body of currently un-vetted individuals over the age of 16 who may well have regular and occaisionally even *un-supervised* contact with children. And what about year 11 students who have already turned 16?

  9. Frank 2
    Black Helicopters

    I take your point but

    "The support required for a database of 11 million individuals will be very different to the levels needed for one designed for, say, 16 million"

    I think you're overplaying this argument somewhat.

  10. ElNumbre
    Big Brother

    Already Practicing...

    In order to comply with our ruling overlords, I've already been practicing my thrusting right armed salute, and the cry "Heil Home Office".

    In other news, these are cunning civil servants not defining the position of the goalposts, so no-one can be blamed (and therefore sacked) when they fail to score any goals, ever.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah, volunteering

    After being asked to fill in my 4th CRB I've given up. No more Scouts, no more kayak coaching. Life has never been so peaceful.

    1. Chris 3

      That's part of the point of the new system

      Under the CRB system you need to be checked for every new attachment - so if you volunteer a school and the scouts, that's two separate CRB checks please.

      The new system is meant to give you a transferable niceness license that you can use anywhere.

      (Just saying)

      ... only one ECRB check for me so far.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Evidence please

    "assuming most paedophiles aren't paedophiles at age 17-18 but become so later"

    What is your evidence for this? I hope you're not using the age of detected paedophiles. That is skewed by, amongst other things, the likelihood of them being caught early on in their offending, which is rarely the case. This is because people mistakenly think that paedophiles are usually men of "a certain age" and therefore a younger person can't do such a thing. This is also why female paedophiles tend to escape detection, bacuase of incorrect stereotypes.

    People don't suddenly turn into paedophiles, any more than they hit a certain age and become gay or straight. They just are what they are and always have been.

    1. mmiied


      but as you said at 17-18 there is likley to be no eveidance or even pointers so they wil manage to be vetted ok

      even better if this volinter service is going to be conpulcery wat happens to pepol aged 17-18 who fail the vettingn test they will be forced and prevented from doing service?

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      He doesn't have evidence

      He is assuming. That means he is postulating a theory.

      Learn to think about what you read.

      1. mmiied

        to state my point simpley

        the point of this data base is to have a list of pepol who the gov thinks are not pedofiles cos there is no "evidance" against them (including suspision gosip etc) my point is that age 16-18 everyboady will be on it reguardless of there sexual inclnations as there will be no "evidance" so the gov will be contaminating it's safe group with potental ofenders

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Assuming is NOT postulating a theory

        He is accepting something as true without evidence for the sake of his argument, rather than take the trouble to postulate a theory and then gather such evidence.

        Learn what "assume" means.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ Pascal Monett

        Assumptions are faith based; theories are evidence based. Margaret Thatcher was happy to boast that she was a 'conviction' politician whose faith based economic policy was the precursor to our current financial catastrophe, courtesy of our New Labour ayatollahs.

  13. a person

    I may be missing something, but ...

    "at present anyone aged 16 or older who frequently or intensively does regulated activity with children or vulnerable adults must ISA-register."

    Given that kids are generally in school until the age of 16, but that most of the other kids in the school are under 16, including children in the same class as the 16-year-olds, does this not mean that every child must be ISA-registered at the age of 16 in order to continue in full-time education, which is a regulated activity?

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Register all children too?

    "at present anyone aged 16 or older who frequently or intensively does regulated activity with children"

    So presumably anyone why passes their 16th birthday and is still going to school (should be everyone, no?) will need to be vetted, as they will be over 16 and carrying out regulated activity with those who haven't yet passed their 16th birthday?

    Perhaps this would also be a good time to take their DNA, and burn the bar-code tattoo on their neck?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      I'll quite happily submit to having a barcode tattoo'd on my neck, as long as they provide all the Hitman training as well (oh and that the barcode resolves to a rude word).

  15. TeeCee Gold badge

    "...a spokeswoman appeared initially to believe this to be a Tory pledge."

    An easy mistake to make. For some time now, Call Me Dave has been complaining that everything his mob announces turns up as a "government initiative" a few weeks later....

  16. peter garner
    Thumb Down

    One solution would be..

    .. to try it on our MPs. After all, if they nothing to hide they nothing to fear..

  17. GettinSadda

    Everyone will end up registered!

    "at present anyone aged 16 or older who frequently or intensively does regulated activity with children or vulnerable adults must ISA-register."

    So in any class of 15-year-olds (i.e. children) each child that turns 16 (i.e. adult) will then be required to register if they remain in the class with the children. Only exceptions being a) those with birthdays during the summer break and b) the last child to turn 16 in a class where none are in group a.

    I do hope that we will all remind local schools that they need to have proof that all the 16-year-olds are registered before they are allowed into a room containing "children".

    1. mmiied

      I think not

      I think in this case regulated activity probley means in some sort of athority so only pepol who are left in charge of younger kids ... admitilty at my school cos 6th formers we were reguley left to supervise lunch ques and things that would mean everyboady

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Were you really at school?

        Something makes me think you skipped the English Language, classes if nothing else...

        1. mmiied


          I had a note from the doctor excusing me form english due to exream dyslexica I did extra smug git lessions instead for use on internet forums

  18. frank ly

    @John Square re. They had this idea

    Perhaps in honour of the glorious Gordon, they can all wear Brown shirts.....?

  19. kissingthecarpet
    Big Brother

    Wonder what the Tories plan is?

    They probably aren't going to have any databases - just some officials who decide whether you're "One of Us" ," Not Our Sort" or "An Oik" based upon appearance,accent,schooling etc. Much better eh?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. Anonymous Coward

    @ AC 13:58

    "People don't suddenly turn into paedophiles, any more than they hit a certain age and become gay or straight. They just are what they are and always have been."

    Nonsense. A paedophile is someone who decides to take some form of sexual action which harms children. One only becomes a paedophile when the decision is made. Decisions can be made at any time of life; people are no more born paedophiles than they are born tax evaders.

    There are people who are born with a certain hormone imbalance which means that, throughout their life, they experience sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex who are sexually mature, yet below the age of consent. The correct collective term for such people is "men".

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @AC 14:48

      "A paedophile is someone who decides to take some form of sexual action which harms children. One only becomes a paedophile when the decision is made. Decisions can be made at any time of life; people are no more born paedophiles than they are born tax evaders."

      Nonsense. A paedophile is an adult who is sexually attracted to children. Someone who takes some form of sexual action which harms children is more correctly known as a "child molester".

      Not all paedophiles are child molesters.

      Neither are all men paedophiles.

    2. David 105


      "There are people who are born with a certain hormone imbalance which means that, throughout their life, they esperience sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex who are sexually mature, yet below the age of consent. The correct collective term for such people is "men"."

      Are you Harrriet Harmen? I've never heard such sexist drivel in my life! Of course, women can never be attracted to underage lads, certainly no teachers have ever been arrested for that... Oh hang on...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      @AC 13:58

      Apparently some of them are also called women if the noosepapers are to be believed

  21. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Just one thing wrong

    I don't remember the exact figures, but I clearly remember reading that in a majority of cases of child abuse, the child personally knows/is related to the abuser.

    I find therefor extremely ironic that vetting the adults that frequently ferry friends' children to school/hobby has been struck down by public outrage. It seems to me to that that is exactly the situation that puts children in danger.

    Of course, I totally agree that it is an unacceptable breach of people's lives and entirely impractical from any point of view, but it kind of radically guts the whole reason for the database in the first place. Not that I'd accept having to be vetted just to bring my neighbor's kids to school once a week.

    Silly me. The reason doesn't have anything to do with catching criminals and everything to do with putting the whole population under surveillance.

    I'll crawl back into my shell now.

  22. Nomen Publicus

    Big Government, Big Database?

    I may be misunderstanding the article (it is reporting on gov-speak after all) but why are people who pass the CRB check being put on a database? If you fail, you must already be on one of the unperson-lists, but if you pass, you are squeaky clean. As I understand it, CRB checks are not transferable, if you pass for the Scouts you still need a second check to work as a teacher, so recording a successful pass is pointless.

    It's just that almost nobody is a kiddy fiddler and if almost everybody is on the good list, there will come a point where all newly detected peodos will have previously passed at least one CRB and the entire system will fall into disrepute (if it hasn't already.)

    1. mmiied

      you are misunderstanding

      but you are misundertsnding the govs position

      this check is in addition to CRB it is a check of ALL POSIBLE evidance against you (including suspistion and heresay and internet browsing,move renting, favrot sexual postiions) and it is supost to be a ceck onece and then you are cleared for life thing

      so you get vetted once you go on the list and every employer just checks to see if you are on the list

      1. Anonymous Coward

        It's not just a one-time check!

        The ISA check isn't a one-time check. There is the initial vetting then, as time goes on, other 'information' will be added to the database. I use quotes because this so-called information will be, in large part, hearsay. Things the local gossip reports. Things a spiteful ex reports. Things a competitor reports. If I recall correctly, employers now have to report anything 'suspicious' about employees. Employers, social workers, police, probably even the dustman will have access to this database.

        Anyone on this database is only one word away from being an unperson and that's just what the government wants. All for the children, the little children, of course.

        Anonymous for obvious reasons.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Most of the kiddy fiddlers are the PARENTS!

    Go look at some real stats (not made up political gumph). The balance is near half and half, and for general abuse its more likely to be the natural mother than the natural father who abuses. Stranger danger is unusual, but has a higher profile.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Most of the kiddy fiddlers are the PARENTS!

      @AC: "Most of the kiddy fiddlers are the PARENTS!"

      Oh dear; you've just failed statistics 101.

      Most contact is with parents; there are millions of children, all with parents, so this result is somewhat inevitable. It does not mean that any individual parent is more likely to fiddle than a stranger, it's simply that there are fewer opportunities for the fiddling stranger.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Double fail

    It's not that bad. No, no, it isn't. It's merely government standard ineptitude of reasonably high proof. ``Community service'' is probably best seen as a nulabour mcguffin to, well, ``build the community'', which isn't the government's job, that would be to get the fsck out of the way and let society grow, fostering growth by removing those elements that are causing harm. But those elements are few and far between, regardless of what puritans of immaterial whichever persuasion would have you believe. Humans are remarkably resilient.

    Now, I'm not all vitriol so it's time to laud where it is due. If they want to try that community thing, sure, try it. If it picks up they've just done society a service, and if it doesn't, ah well. As a strategy it certainly is much less expensive and even more less prone to disaster than gathering huge databases of sensitive information. So try the cheap mcguffin, but the database has to go.

  25. John Ozimek

    Support required

    er....if one looks at the database in the round, then the total support requirement for a database of 16 million IS quite different from one of 11 million.

    Support = all manner of stuff, from staffing, terminals, phone lines, premises, etc., etc.

    This was the lesson of the CSA, which emerged slowly as a Select Committee grilled the Chair of the CSA back in 1995. In setting it up, they had made a stab at working out hours needed per case...then staffed up on that basis.

    Unfortunately, they were wrong...hence backlog...and political fall-out.

    If you under-staff a facility that needs to do some fairly people-intensive work in its early days, you create a culture in which backlog is the norm and catching up is the best it can do. You also crete a prob on call-time waiting....

    If you look at models for staff needed relative to calls waiting, the relationship is NOT linear.

    1. Ian 54

      Support required

      John, I accept your new wording - it will be "quite different". I was objecting to "very different".

      Your example isn't a good one though - the CSA screwed up because they thought each case would take less time than it did. You are saying that this supports an argument that there would be a radical difference because of the number of cases. It's related, but it isn't the same. Also, you are quoting call centre thinking on number of staff needed for a certain call volume. My guess is that most of this "support" is going to be done in back office functions. I can't see anyone being allowed to get checked by calling in, and I really hope the process for finding out if someone is on the DB is a bit more formal than calling an 0870 number and asking for John Ozimek's details.

  26. Deadlock Victim


    Last I checked, "compulsory" was more or less the opposite of "voluntary".

  27. Britt Johnston

    community service

    The idea of compulsory community service comes from Europe, where it is offered pacifists and flat-footers as an alternative to military service, now that the cold war is over. As members, we really should take the best ideas from Europe.

    Young people can learn to do something useful, rather than stressing the job market. Like the army, usefulness need not be measured too carefully. For a goverment with no money I imagine the approach is attractive. Taking the logic to this end, everyone except the 500 finance guys who keep the City afloat should be on lifetime community service, and, after graduating from the unpaid market, be given a subsistence wage.

    Here endeth the party political broadcast.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Long overdue...

    ... The labour that is, but let's go one step further. Anyone on unemployement benefits should be made to work for the state before they can collect it. You want your £40 dole? That's 7 and a bit hours of labour please at minimum wage. Go collect your sweeping brush and litter picker, and come back tomorrow with your binbags full!!!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sinister Plan

    If you look at what's happening, this has little to do with protecting children, more and more databases are being created, more and more people are being bought into the net, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is part of a bigger Labour plan to monitor and control every person in the country.

    In a few years time nearly every adult in the country ( and children will be too) will have a record on one of the large databases run by NuLabour.

    Soon, you won't be able to shit with NuLabour knowing, Labour are trying to brainwash the entire country into their way of thinking.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pudsy Pedo Bear

    For this years Children in Need campaign we need ONLY PRE-VETTED volunteers to do fund raising in schools, and we'll be dropping Pudsy Pedo Bear!

    And DEFINITELY NOT Ed Balls, because he volunteers to registers as a potential pedo.

    And Mandy oggling the little girls dancing, was he vetted??? The ages are 14-19 so they're definitely little girls in leotards he's ogglin.

    Was Mandy vetted or not?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    @frank ly

    I've asked for an icon of our glorious leader in a brown shirt many times. So how about it El Reg, or are you afraid you'll end up on a database?

  32. Anonymous Coward

    @AC re Evidence Please

    AC: You are quite right, what I should have written was "assuming most paedophiles aren't known child-molesters at age 17-18 but are later discovered to be so"

    "Assuming" was simply to avoid a long justification and get to the point that *on the face of it* the database appears to be self-contradictory because people will get a clean bill of health early on. In practise, I'm sure ways around this will be found.

    There is also another sinister aspect to the database that hasn't yet been mentioned: consider the scenario where someone who has worked with children on several separate occasions is found to be an abuser. The first thing the police will do is check those previous occasions in case there were earlier cases of abuse. All well and good except that other adults at the same place will inevitably fall under suspicion as collaborators or fellow paedophiles whereas they were simply duped and failed to notice anything. For example, if a parent giving children a lift to weekend football interferes with one of them, you can't necessarily expect the coach or the other parents to notice. But I'd be willing to bet they will be marked on the database: "one degree away from a molester"

    /Warning: this DB contains hazardous material

  33. Loki 1
    Big Brother

    Do as we tell you...

    <quote> "It is my ambition to create a Britain in which there is a clear expectation that all young people will undertake some service to their community, and where community service will become a normal part of growing up in Britain.

    "And, by doing so, the contributions of each of us will build a better society for all of us."</quote>

    Get me out of this bloody country! Oh, wait, i got out! Haha! Come on the rest of you, get out before you start needing a travel permit to leave your home!

  34. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Guilt not required

    Just those unsubstantiated, unconfirmed "allegations."

    After all there's no smoke without fire.

    It will be interesting to see what the grand total on this is, and how many actually get turned down.

    It's a fail, but not before a lot of people will get hurt.

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