Below is a Manifesto Club statement, by Josie Appleton and James Panton, in response to the government’s climbdown over the vetting and barring scheme.
‘The government has just announced a major climb-down on the vetting and barring scheme. This should be welcomed, as it means that fewer people will be subjected to the suspicious and burdensome requirements of registering on the vetting database.
‘However, the essential absurdities of this scheme – and its founding assumption that we are all potential paedophiles until proven otherwise – remain unchallenged.
‘In spite of these changes to the criteria of who must be vetted, the policy would still require the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) registration of the father who helps out at his son’s football team every week, or the mother who volunteers at her children’s nursery. People will still have to register on this vetting database – and be subjected to constant criminal records vetting – for carrying out the most natural and everyday activities, working and volunteering with children.
‘Wherever Ed Balls re-draws the line on who must register on the vetting database, this is still an absurd law. It is arbitrary whether they define ‘frequent’ contact with children as once a month or once a week; or whether they define ‘intensive’ contact as three or hour days in a month. Neither definition helps child welfare – and any definition will obstruct and over-burden the informal ways in which adults help and care for children.
‘What we need is a rational debate about child protection. The Manifesto Club calls for the ISA and the vetting database to be scrapped. These institutions are the result of legislation passed in a climate of fear, where politicians and other public figures were unable to discuss the issue rationally or openly.
‘Whatever happens to this database, we must challenge the culture of vetting. There are already millions of CRB checks every year. Volunteers are already being checked to go to a carol service or to write Santa letters to children.
‘We need an open and rational public debate about how we can best act together to ensure children’s welfare. The vast majority of decent adults need to have the confidence to help and look out for children, without having to submit themselves to surveillance or to undergo state licensing.’
For further information, contact Josie Appleton on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0779 1032740 or James Panton on email@example.com or 0779 2795462.