Vetting scheme for 9 million people to be cut back

I was pleased to learn that the system of using CRB checks to vet nine million people is to be drastically scaled back.

NOT because there is no need for intelligent vetting to protect the safety of children, but because any vetting scheme covering a quarter of the adult population is going to be so thinly spread that it will be absolutely useless.

The present arrangements for Criminal Record Bureau checks, one of the many disasters for which we can blame the former Education Secretary and present Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, is the worst of both worlds. It puts people off volunteering for things and makes those who do feel like suspected criminals by making them go through intrusive and over-bureacratic security checks - and often making them repeatedly go through the same security checks. But it is ineffective at protecting children, because any system which checks so many millions of people has to be set not to flag people too easily if it is not to cause havoc with large numbers of "false positives."

With the result that some genuinely dangerous people slip through the net.

Under new arrangements which will be part of the "Protection of Freedoms" bill, only those working most closely with children or vulnerable adults will need to undergo a criminal records check and the results will be able to move with individuals when they change jobs, cutting down on bureaucracy.

The current messy system that defies common sense will be "scaled back to sensible levels whilst at the same time protecting vulnerable people" said the Deputy Prime Minister.

The bill will also tighten the rules covering the storage of innocent people's DNA information: genetic profiles of those who are arrested and released without charge will not be retained, nor those for people charged with minor offences but not convicted. DNA profiles of those who have not been convicted will only be held if they have been charged with a serious crime such as rape or murder, and then only for three years.

Powers for local authorities to snoop on people suspected of minor offences will also be cut, preventing town hall enforcers from abusing anti-terror powers for trivial matters like over-filling litter bins (a touchy issue in Copeland) or school catchment area disputes.

The Bill will also set out plans to regulate CCTV and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) systems for the first time, to outlaw wheel-clamping on private land, and to ban schools from fingerprinting children without their parents' consent.

A report on the proposals is available here at Sky News and there is a comment by Phillip Johnson at the Telegraph here. He calls the bill "a step back to sanity" and I agree entirely.


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