According to Pennie Goodman, from Leicester, barbershop choirs are now bringing through new burdensome child protection procedures.
‘My partner belongs to a male voice choir which is affiliated to a larger organisation. Many of the clubs do not have any members under 18 and of those that do, almost all attend with a family member. There is no one-to-one contact during rehearsals and yet a policy is coming into force which states that every club (including those with no under-18s or with a child attending with a parent) must have a CRB checked “Designated Person” who is responsible for any minors and who will be identified as their contact. The idea that CRB checked people are “safe”, and that non-CRB checked ones are not, is patently untrue. This is nothing to do with protecting children, it could even increase their vulnerability, it is about covering backs.’
’Insurance and legal liability are big business in our “blame culture”. If the legal/insurance responsibilities of members of hobby/voluntary groups are increased to a point that only the naïve will take on defined roles (the others refusing to expose themselves to a potential personal, legal and social nightmare) then this may be the beginning of the end for wonderful, inspirational hobbies. These hobbies could provide children with life-enhancing experiences and long-term friendships and yet clubs may simply close their doors to under 18s.’
The habit of appointing CRB-checked ‘designated persons’ is rather like forcing every local club to have their own policeman. These cleared individuals are supposed to keep an eye on the other adults, and to be the official contact for kids. In fact, in any normal and supportive group all adults will be ‘contacts’ for children in the group, and will be looking out for their welfare.