Scottish Parent Teacher Council takes on new Bill

The Scottish Parent Teacher Council will be giving evidence to the Scottish Education Committee on 22 November, pointing out the grievous problems with the new Protecting Vulnerable Groups Bill. Read the full document: Evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Education Committee on the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Bill.

They say that the new vetting system :

Introduces a “back-watching” system that does not help children: It is quite clear from the many seminars and conferences that we have attended on this subject, that many organisations are using the legislation to protect their own backs rather than to protect children. They are concerned that they will be able to provide an audit of diligence should anything go wrong.’

Destroys social trust: The legislation, which assumes adults are potentially paedophiles until proven otherwise, is building up a climate of social distrust and destroying the natural and healthy relationship between adults and children. Men in particular are very wary of having anything to do with children or offering help to a child who is in trouble.’

Drives adults out of volunteering: We know that many parents are unwilling to volunteer because they have some youthful indiscretion in their past which resulted in a conviction and they are worried that this will be rediscovered and, in the small community of a school, label them as “dodgy”…. In our own area, we are often told of the problems PTAs have in getting anyone to help in the first place; if you then require the volunteer to undergo an enhanced disclosure check for the doubtful pleasure of policing a teenage disco, the average parent will say “no thank you”. We have even had parents phone us concerned to know whether parents who have not been disclosed should be allowed in to watch their children perform in an end-of-term school play.’

Information sharing: Use of “soft information” based on suspicion or concern, means that proposals to share information could result in considerable files of circumstantial evidence being generated about some people without their knowledge.’

UPDATE, 20 NOVEMBER: See coverage of the SPTC evidence in The Herald and The Scotsman.