Letter: Access to criminal records

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Sir: Amidst all the furore over the White Paper on Access to Criminal Records for Employment Purposes ("Firms to access criminal files", 19 June), a fundamental point has been lost. While many people accept that children need special protection under the law, they do not realise that there are at least as many "vulnerable" adults at risk of sexual and physical abuse. They are people who, by virtue of their disabilities, are dependent on the support of others.

Sense, the National Deafblind and Rubella Association, represents people who are both deaf and blind. Because of the complex nature of the conditions which cause deafblindness, some deafblind people also have intellectual impairments and learning disabilities. For some, their lack of vocal communication means that they cannot appeal for help or explain what may have happened to them.

Shocking and unbelievable as it is, potential abusers are strongly attracted to working with such vulnerable adults. The White Paper does not recognise this and puts vulnerable adults in a lesser category than children by not allowing full access to all police intelligence.

This is wrong. Our society responds warmly to children in need, but sadly, we are ignoring the needs of other vulnerable people.

Spotting potential abusers and running services in ways which minimise risks are complex problems. Access to criminal records and police intelligence is only part of the solution. But it is an essential ingredient, which the White Paper fails to address adequately.

The legislation which follows must put this right.

DAVID HARKER

Managing Director

Sense

The National Deafblind

and Rubella Association

London N4

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