Scottish parents lobby MPs

Judith Gillespie from the Scottish Parent Teacher Council submitted evidence to the Scottish Education Committee about the problems with the new vetting legislation. Here are her notes on the meetings.

‘Brian Gorman of Disclosure Scotland was hard-line about supporting vetting but gave a frightening insight into his apparent lack of understanding of the technical IT needs of the system. By the time he had finished describing the information exchange system, I was quietly thinking “and you think that will work?” It was scary stuff and there is a serious need for an IT expert – and someone who knows about security – to look at what is proposed. If folk can hack into the Pentagon’s IT system, I don’t hold out much hope for this information exchange!

The Deputy Minister for Education and Young People, Robert Brown, sounded like he was willing to make some concessions but kept muttering about “bad people out there” and the “need for child protection”. Somebody again raised the ludicrous example of the paedophile crossing the Border and masquerading as a piano teacher, as a reason why Scotland needs the same vetting legislation as England. What do they think parents are? When you need a piano teacher, you ask parents you know to recommend one and the first requirement is that they can play the piano!

I’m not sure what the Committee will decide in their report, but I certainly think the voluntary groups have managed to get the message across. The Child Law Centre representatives were brilliant and made very sensible points about the problems with vetting. The Children’s Commissioner, Kathleen Marshall, had given evidence the previous week. When asked whether she thought the legislation should be withdrawn while the operation of the existing system was reviewed, she replied with a simple and unequivocal “yes”.’