Councillors get CRB checked

Arun, in West Sussex, has started vetting all its councillors, on the grounds that they are in a ‘position of trust’ and may come into unsupervised contact with children. Yet as one Lib Dem councillor pointed out, the fact that these people are elected means that they are known and trusted in their communities. The authority won through the ballot box surely counts for more than a tick of approval from the CRB.

The justification for the policy is not to protect children, but to cover backs. A council officer said: ‘There are situations where councillors may have unaccompanied liaison with children and vulnerable adults, and at present there are no specific processes/protocols in place to cover members in this situation…. This is a protection for councillors.’

The concern here is to have all the boxes ticked, with every interaction between adults and kids signed off in advance. Every profession apparently needs its ‘processes/protocols’, its filing cabinet full of forms – not to do anything useful, but to show that they took all precautions. This is a policy founded in bad faith.

This line of thinking drives the expansion of vetting. If councillors, why not MPs, bus drivers, postmen, newsagents? There is no obvious point at which all this will stop.