Leading article: Database of distrust

Share
Related Topics

The vetting and barring scheme represented the worst instincts of Labour in office: the assumption of guilt, the love of bureaucracy, the obsession with databases, the reflexive statism. The previous government did scale back the scheme last year. But the new Home Secretary, Theresa May, is right to go a step further and call a halt altogether.

No sensible person disputes that some form of vetting procedure is needed for those who are employed to work closely with children. Recent revelations of sickening abuse by paedophile priests remind us why there need to be special safeguards.

But Ms May is right when she argues that the previous administration's vetting and barring scheme, even in scaled-back form, was wholly disproportionate. It would have required virtually every adult who wanted to work with children, from full-time teachers to occasional volunteers at the local scout group, to register. It would have affected around nine million people.

There was every reason to believe that volunteers would have been put off by the bureaucracy involved. One does not have to be a fully paid-up subscriber to the Conservatives' vision of "The Big Society" to grasp why this would have been undesirable. Children would have been the ones to suffer under such circumstances. The previous Government's stubbornness in pushing through this unwieldy project was especially maddening because the existing screening methods for those working with children are adequate. Employees must already go through criminal record checks to work in schools. And there are official lists of individuals barred from working with children and vulnerable adults. There is a case for combining these procedures, which the review announced by Ms May yesterday should look into.

But it is important that there is room for some discretion in the system too. If the Independent Safeguarding Authority, which was established to oversee the vetting and barring scheme, is to survive it needs to avoid making snap judgements based on potentially malicious allegations or unsubstantiated pieces of gossip.

The core problem with the vetting and barring scheme was that it threatened to inject a hysterical level of distrust into all relations between adults and children. Now that the scheme itself has been halted, the Government's task is to make sure that this counter-productive mentality goes too.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Building Manager / Head Porter

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Medical Copywriter / Account Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an awa...

Recruitment Genius: Transport Clerk / Debriefer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading temperature contro...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketer

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: the Labour leadership election hasn’t yet got to grips with why the party lost

John Rentoul
Kennedy campaign for the Lib Dems earlier this year in Bearsden  

Charles Kennedy: A brilliant man whose talents were badly needed

Baroness Williams
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific