Society of Authors supports vetting campaign

The Society of Authors just sent us this statement in support of our vetting campaign:

‘The Society of Authors supports the Manifesto Club’s campaign against the over-cautious and over-complicated procedures for vetting and barring of those working with young people. The current CRB system is clearly unworkable, with many of our members who work on a regular part time or voluntary basis with young or vulnerable people reporting the need to obtain multiple clearances for each site they visit or each group with whom they have contact.

Despite statements from the Department for Education that CRB checks should not apply to authors, illustrators and other professionals whose job involves infrequent or limited contact with children with whom they are not left alone, and repeated assurances from OFSTED that schools are aware of this, the Society of Authors has evidence that authors visiting schools are still routinely being asked to produce CRB documents and/or ID – even if the school knows exactly who the author is, and invited him or her to visit in the first place!

Safeguarding our children is clearly a sensible aim: but legislation that makes it impossible for Community Schools to admit the community; that subjects volunteers to expensive, intrusive and pointless scrutiny (the abusive care worker employed by Little Teds nursery in Plymouth had impeccable CRB credentials); that violates the presumption of innocence and unnecessarily limits the opportunities of young people to meet visiting professionals, is not the way to do it. The Society of Authors believes that the CRB system is a fundamentally flawed mechanism that safeguards nobody and underlies a culture of mistrust that divides the community and damages the very children it claims to protect. The Society calls upon the government replace the vetting database with a sane, workable and unobtrusive system of checks based on pre-existing information sources such as list 99, and to do its utmost to encourage schools and other institutions to welcome volunteers and visitors, and regard them as friends rather than a potential threat.’