Simon Carr: Put carers in high-visibility jackets

Comfortably off, middle-class intellectuals have a charter to abuse
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The Independent Online

So, two million people working with children have been removed from the need for Criminal Records Bureau checks. The number of people who need checking is down from 11 million to nine million. For those who can't calculate, actuarial estimates indicate this may very well result in an at-a-stroke increase of up to 20 per cent in the number of children being abused.

Yes, authors will now be able to read extracts from their works to school assemblies, but another 10,000 children a year will be assaulted, raped or killed. Is this a fair price to pay?

Some say yes. A vocal lobby of authors, comedians and volunteers has browbeaten the secretary of state, Ed Balls, and he has capitulated to their well-organised campaign. As a result, comfortably off, middle-class intellectuals have demanded – and achieved – a charter to abuse and murder children in the name of ideological purity.

Common sense must surely prevail. Social equity and fairness also need to be given voice in the argument. First, the Government should enact legislation to ensure that the level of abuse, assault, child rape and child murder will be halved in three years. Future governments will not be able to ignore vulnerable children being treated in this way.

The vocal lobby of intellectual libertarians should be required to join in this shared national consensus. In legal terms, undermining the consensus will be deemed an incitement to hate crime and the accused may be charged with acting as an accessory to rape and murder. Second, just because people aren't on the list doesn't mean they are safe to be with children. This philosophy of negative qualifications should be replaced with positive ones. Only people actually on the approved list should be authorised to accompany or have physical contact with vulnerables.

Mass consultation should urgently take place on appropriate public clothing – a high visibility "safety waistcoat" to identify adult and teenage carers as being suitable child companions.

That's the start of the way back.

I have a number of other safety projects that need social entrepreneurs to give voice to them. Children riding bicycles without helmets should render their parents liable for fines. By the same token, anyone moving at speed in the built environment puts themselves and others at risk. For instance, joggers travelling at more than 10mph currently fail to practise the most rudimentary precautions resulting in very significant costs to the NHS, diverting resources away from vulnerables (via the inevitable head injuries). So the campaign is seeking an entrepreneurial co-ordinator and outreach specialist to lobby government to require joggers to wear helmets.

The number of jogging miles run in this country produces a regionally-adjusted risk co-efficient that is simply and scandalously unacceptable in a first-world country. In some sense countries are ultimately judged on how they treat their joggers. (And yes, lights, in winter; joggers should wear lights front and rear. But not yet number plates. We need to take this one step at a time.)

simon.carr@sketch.sc

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