Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006

Name of Legislation and link to Parliament

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006

Reason why it should be put on the Bonfire

Established the Independent Safeguarding Authority:

"The Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) which this paranoid Government has established to prevent the wrong sort of people looking after children has the potential to become a monster. Its sinister remit first came to light a few months ago when the author Philip Pullman was told that he could no longer visit schools to read to children until he could prove that he had no intention to do them wrong whilst he was there. To do so he had to pay £64.00 to undergo a Criminal Record Check. Rather than submit himself to this humiliation he and a number of other authors said that they would stop going to schools.

Not surprisingly it caused an outcry but the ISA blundered on unaware that their modus operandi implied that all adults who come in contact with children are now pedophiles and would be deemed so until they could prove otherwise. To do this they had to undergo a Criminal Record Check but if they refused they could be fined up to £5,000. All of a sudden the presumption of trust was dead.

Last week, in a joint letter to Ed Balls the children’s secretary, seven associations of teachers representing both state and private schools argued that the new vetting and barring legislation was excessive and would not protect children. It went on to state that its unintended consequences were grave. They argued that fewer pupils were being offered work experience because companies were not willing to pay for their staff to have CRB checks to look after children and that foreign exchange trips were being cancelled because parents were unwilling to register with the authority that would then monitor them for life. All kinds of visits, plays, fundraising, sports and community projects were now threatened by the legislation as were school’s abilities to find an emergency plumber or cover an absent dinner lady.

Thankfully this weekend there was an indication that at last common sense was beginning to prevail. In a partial climb-down the Government has stated that only adults who come into contact with the same children more than once a week should be checked – the bar had previously been set at once a month. Of course all of this still assumes that the 200 randomly chosen bureaucrats who work for the ISA have carried out the checks correctly and that those undergoing them have declared everything as they should. Which is a naive assumption to make.

I have no objection to conducting checks on professional people who regularly look after children. Where I object is when the remit it broadened to those who are volunteering – out of a positive intent – to look after them. We will never prevent every act of abuse – it’s an impossibility. But, in attempting to do so, we will lose so much more."

Nappy Britain

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