Parliament: Register to list suspected paedophiles

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The Independent Online
SUSPECTED AS well as convicted paedophiles would be banned for life from working with children under a backbench Bill published yesterday.

The private member's Protection of Children Bill, sponsored by Debra Shipley, MP for Stourbridge, would ban childcare organisations from employing anyone on a national register drawn up by the Government.

The Bill, which is being backed by the Department of Education and Employment, the Home Office and the Department of Health, will also require employers to refer to the register the names of those who have harmed children or put them at risk. It will receive its second reading on Friday and stands a reasonable chance of passing into law.

The measures would enable the Government's proposed Criminal Records Bureau to operate a "one-stop shop" so that concerned childcare organisations can make fast checks.

The Bill aims to tighten up the law following pressure from charities, schools and councils which claim there is no mechanism to report staff who quit their jobs before investigations into child abuse are concluded. Many paedophiles slip through the net even though serious allegations are made against them by children.

Volunteers as well as employees would be subject to checks for the first time and an independent appeals tribunal would ensure that no innocent individual was placed on the list.

Ms Shipley said: "I have been contacted by many people and organisations who have told me about some shocking incidents that would not have happened if my Bill had been on the statute book. My bill will close many loopholes. We must go down the avenues that abusers exploit and this is a step towards that goal."

Valerie Howarth, chief executive of the charity Childline, said: "We welcome the unified list of people unsuitable to work with children as a vital step in preventing known abusers continuing to harm children."

Both Mencap and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children have also officially backed the Bill.