All supporting actors need criminal check

All walk-on and supporting actors for the main TV companies now require a basic criminal records check. They need this for any production on which an under-18 will be on set, at any point and for any length of time. (A 17-year old on the set for a few minutes will require everyone in the whole production to be checked. The whole production will need to be checked if there is a chance that an under-18 might at some point contribute ‘as a result of last-minute changes to the schedule’.) The actor will have to pay the £25 check fee themselves and give the certificate…

Vetting for school governors made a legal obligation

I have just received an email from a school governor: “I’m a Chair of Governors of a primary school and have been made aware of a new statutory instrument that was laid before Parliament last week, which mandates that all governors of maintained schools have an enhanced criminal records check, regardless of whether they’re undertaking regulated activity or not. Up until now, the decision as to whether to check all governors was down to the LA or body in question, and we did not routinely vet new governors. Despite being known to the school for over a decade, I will be required to…

Oz catches ‘Santa’s lap’ panic

An Australian child protection adviser has called for shopping centres to ‘update child protection policies’ so that children ‘stand beside Santa’ rather that sit on his knee. This sparked a national debate about the rights and wrongs of sitting on Santa’s knee (Is it wrong if the child asks to do it? Where should Santa put his hands? Which part of the knee?) What is striking is the similarities between British and Australian child protection cultures, with a shared concern about the dangers of interaction between children and this strange disguised man in dark spaces. This level of concern simply doesn’t exist…

How many criminal checks does an exam invigilator need?

I just received this email from an exam invigilator – in response to my Civitas report on vetting – about the frequent requests he receives for criminal records checks. Some of these requests appear to be motivated by DfE guidance that if a volunteer hasn’t been into school for the previous three months, they be asked to carry out a separate check. All of which shows that requests for repeat vetting continue apace – and that the rules underlying these requests remain confusing and illogical. ‘Since I retired I have been working as an exam invigilator in local secondary schools during the…

Teachers told: ‘Carry CRB check at all times’

I just received an email from a teacher, reporting that the teaching agency he works with told him: ‘carry your CRB copy with you at all times’. That is, he would be expected to produce his criminal records certificate not just on the first day of a job, but at any time in the course of working life. (Over coffee in the staffroom? In the middle of a class?). This request to carry one’s criminal records check on your person is a sign of how this piece of paper has become an index of trustworthiness; you could be challenged at any moment…

Making parental emotional abuse a crime

Justin Wiley has written a good piece about emotional abuse at the New Observer. He includes the following pertinent example: “This author worked as a volunteer for his local authority to mentor a young man with “learning difficulties”. The boy attended a special school for young people with disabilities where he was soaked in advice about “child protection”. The result; he wanted me to take him swimming every week. And every week he would accuse me of being a “paedophile”. (Because he’d been told that adult men who take boys to swimming pools are paedophiles). The “Safeguarding” culture generates numerous conflicts like…

Child photography banned at National Trust for Scotland site

This email recalls how a visitor to a National Trust for Scotland site was warned at the entrance that he shouldn’t take photographs of children… ‘I recently visited J.M. Barrie’s birthplace home in Kirriemuir, Angus, a building run by the National Trust for Scotland, holding a camera. I was expressly told, as I purchased tickets, that I must not use my camera to photograph children. Mention was made of both child protection and data protection legislation, and also of the possibility of tracing women in refuges via possible posting on social networking sites. ‘It did make me feel that I was being…

Headteacher reports artist mother to police for pictures of her son

I just received this email from an artist, who was reported to the police by her son’s headteacher, because of photos of the artist’s son on her website. This truly extraordinary story indicates the extent to which schools are seeking to regulate photos of children – which stretches to censoring photos in their parents’ artwork… ‘My son’s headteacher called the police in 2010 to my son’s primary school, after seeing pictures of my son on my website. I had had a performance at the Courtauld Institute and my son’s teacher missed it so I gave her a video of myself and my…

Man out walking without a dog questioned as suspected paedophile

I just received this email about a man questioned about why he was out walking without a dog: ‘The (male) head of a primary school thinks he better buy a dog! This is because when he was out walking by the river without one, he was stopped by the police and questioned as to why he was out for a walk without one. Why? Because there were some teenagers congregated nearby, it was one of those sunny evenings when they like to “hang out”. So going for a walk without a dog is now suspicious action…’ This is a classic sign of…

Keeping child actors off the stage

The government has launched a welcome reform of the rules governing child actors and actresses. Currently, every organisation working with a child has to gain an individual licence for each child, which makes it very hard for small-scale productions to work with children. Instead, the government proposes ‘allowing producers to apply for group licences every two years, to cover all under-16s performers’. Local authorities have also been known to be over-cautious and interfering, insisting on CRB checks for adult actors or venue managers, or separate changing rooms for children – with the result that many grassroots theatre productions have started to delete…