What evidence is there that the vetting database will work?

I’ve just received this email from Richard Ellam, a popular science presenter, who makes the important point about the lack of evidence for the efficacy of the CRB system. Indeed, I’ve repeatedly asked officials what evidence they have that this vetting database does any good – but they steadfastly ignored the question.

‘As a strong supporter of civil liberties of all sorts I have been following your campaign against the Child Protection Mafia with interest for some time. This issue affects me directly, as I am a freelance writer and presenter of science shows who regularly visits schools and other places to perform my work. Just yesterday I had to send off yet another unnecessary CRB disclosure form so that I can stand on a stage for three days next month, in costume, and talk about Galileo in front of teenagers at the Newcastle Science Festival!

What concerns me is that there is apparently NO EVIDENCE that the existing CRB scheme is actually effective in reducing the incidence of child abuse. I conclude that the evidence doesn’t exist because none of the proponents of the vetting and barring scheme actually made any reference to it in their justifications of the scheme. Nobody said anything along the lines of ” The CRB scheme has produced an X% reduction in recorded incidences of child abuse in schools, and we expect that the new scheme will produce a further Y% reduction”. The best that people could offer were conditional justifications along the lines of “if this scheme saves JUST ONE CHILD (my emphasis) then will be worthwhile”.

This lack of evidence for the effectiveness of the existing scheme seems to extend to the CRB’s website. A quick search of their news archive and press release archive reveals no mention of any stories that actually point to the effectiveness of the CRB system in reducing child abuse. Its not even possible to find out easily how many people have been found ‘unsuitable’ to work with children as a result of the CRB process.’