Coalition 'to relax checks on working with children'

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Indy Politics

Millions of people are to be spared criminal records checks before they can work with children, it was reported today.

According to The Daily Telegraph, only those with intensive contact with children or vulnerable people will have to submit themselves to vetting procedures under the Government's plans.



An announcement on the vetting and barring scheme introduced by the former Labour government is expected shortly following a review instituted by the coalition last October.



Home Secretary Theresa May initially called a halt to the programme, which would have required more than nine million people to register themselves with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).



Under the proposals to be announced, about half that figure would be vetted, the Telegraph reported. At the same time, the Government is to announce that criminal record checks are to be sent to individuals first - before they go to potential employers - to allow them to challenge any mistakes, the paper said.



Ms May has described Labour's vetting scheme as "draconian" and called for a more "common sense" approach which did not risk alienating volunteers doing valuable work.



Criticisms have included more than 12,000 innocent people being labelled as paedophiles, violent thugs and thieves through an error, councils banning parents from playgrounds saying only vetted "play rangers" would be allowed in, and parents running into difficulties when trying to share the responsibilities of the school run.



The review has been led by the Government's independent adviser for criminality information management, Sunita Mason.



Among the factors being considered has been whether the disclosure of minor offences and police intelligence to prospective employers within the criminal records check should still form part of the process.



A Home Office spokeswoman said: "We are due to make more detail available shortly."



The ISA scheme was developed in response to the murder of schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman by caretaker Ian Huntley.



It was designed to prevent unsuitable people working with children and vulnerable adults, with employers facing prosecution for breaches.



An independent review of the scheme took place under Labour following complaints that volunteers were being discouraged because the registration net was too wide.



As a result, ministers agreed to vet adults only if they saw the same group of children or vulnerable people once a week or more, rather than once a month as originally proposed.

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