By Martin Beckford
An estimated 11.3 million people – including parents who join school rotas to take pupils to sports events – already face having their backgrounds checked to allow them to work with children.
But Sir Roger Singleton, the chairman of the Independent Safeguarding Authority, said the scope of the database could increase significantly because companies would fear losing business if they did not have their employees vetted.
Piano tutors, private home helps, tradesmen and the self-employed may do so just to get work, as rivals sought to advertise the fact that their staff had been cleared to work with children or vulnerable adults, he said. “There may be some categories who don’t have to register but who might decide there is a commercial advantage in registering,” Sir Roger said.
“For example, the person who gives private piano lessons or the person who puts a postcard in the local post office saying, ‘I’m able to provide domiciliary care for dependent people.’ They may decide that to be able to put on the bottom of the postcard ‘ISA-registered’ is something that gives comfort and it may be that the uptake is likely to be increased.
“The electrical contractor who wants school business may decide that although he is not required to have all his electricians registered with the ISA, there is a tendering advantage to doing so.”
Sir Roger also disclosed that the sensitive information gathered about those on the database would be kept indefinitely, even if they left the relevant professions, because it could be useful for any subsequent applications.
His warning raises concerns that hundreds of thousands of workers could end up having their backgrounds checked even though there was no obvious need to do so as companies insisted that staff be vetted to reassure customers.
Those with a criminal history could face losing their job if it prevented their employer gaining accreditation.
Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said many self-employed people would have to register to remain competitive. “This amounts to another hoop for them to jump through in an extremely tough economic environment,” he said. “The Government must seriously consider all the knock-on effects of this scheme before it presses ahead with it.”
The scheme was proposed in the wake of the Soham murders as a way to ensure that anyone in a relationship of trust with young, elderly or disabled people was suitable.
They would be screened for any evidence of relevant convictions or cautions against them, or “soft intelligence” such as allegations made at their previous place of work.
Those with serious criminal histories would be barred automatically, while those with minor allegations against them could have their lifestyle taken into account to see if they posed a risk in future.
Last month, Sir Roger was asked by the Government to look again at the complex definitions of “frequent” and “intensive” contact following concerns that the scheme would lead to state supervision of all relationships between adults and children.
It had been assumed that a review would have meant that, in the most widely criticised example, parents would not need to be vetted in order to take children home from football matches on a school rota.
But Sir Roger said that was likely to remain within the scheme. “In that context, it is reasonable to expect of the person who is doing that driving that there’s no known reason why he shouldn’t work with children,” he said.
By Daily Mail Reporter
Parents banned from watching their children in playgrounds… in case they are paedophiles
A council has banned parents from supervising their children in public playgrounds until they have undergone criminal record checks.
Adults have been excluded from two adventure play areas in Watford, apart from a handful of council-vetted ‘play rangers’ who will assist youngsters, it emerged today.
Parents will be forced to watch their children from outside the perimeter fence.
Watford Borough Council claims it is just following Government guidelines and cannot allow adults to walk around playgrounds ‘unchecked’.
But parents are furious that they are all being labelled ‘potential paedophiles’ and branded the ban ‘a joke’.
Mother-of-five Marcella Bergin, 35, said she was disgusted when she heard she would not be allowed to stay in the park with her children.
Mrs Bergin, from Watford, has been visiting one of the playgrounds affected with her three eldest children for many years.
She said: When I heard about what they were planning to do my jaw just dropped.
‘It’s like they are branding all parents potential paedophiles which is disgraceful – 99 per cent of people are great parents and certainly not child abusers.
‘The whole thing is just a joke and I will certainly not be adhering to the new rules which frankly are crazy.’
Retired youth worker Mo Mills, 62, said she was stunned to learn she could not watch her five year-old granddaughter play in the park.
Mrs Mills, who has six grandchildren, said: ‘This place is for the public and what the council have decided to do is totally out of proportion.
‘I understand the need to keep kids safe but this is just a step too far – not everybody is a paedophile and even if they were parents are best placed to protect their own kids.
‘This is typical of the nanny state and I am furious – the council should hang their head in shame at this political correctness gone mad.’
Parents already have to ‘register’ their child on arrival at the free playgrounds so staff have their contact details in the event of an accident.
But now only those who have been selected for CRB vetting by the council can enter the sites, which are surrounded by six foot high steel and wooden fences
Claude Knights, the founder of children’s charity Kidscape, said the council were ‘using a sledgehammer to crack nuts’.
She said: ‘They are encouraging a climate where parents and children are rendered suspicious without any proof of wrong doing or guilt.
‘Caring parents should not be viewed as a threat and if you are a bona fide parent or carer you are in a better position to look after your children than council staff.’
A council notice to parents explains that: ‘Safeguarding the children and young people who use the site is one of our top priorities.
‘Due to Ofsted regulations we have a responsibility to ensure that every authorised adult who enters our site is properly vetted and given a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check by Watford Borough Council.’
Council Mayor Dorothy Thornhill said they are merely enforcing government policy at the play areas, in Vicarage Road and Leggatts Way.
She said: ‘Sadly, in today’s climate, you can’t have adults walking around unchecked in a children’s playground and the adventure playground is not a meeting place for adults.