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Licensed to hug

james gubb, 26 June 2008

The dramatic escalation of child protection measures has succeeded in poisoning the relationship between the generations and creating an atmosphere of suspicion that actually increases the risks to children, according to a new study released today by Civitas.
In Licensed to Hug Frank Furedi, Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, argues that children need to have contact with a range of adult members of the community for their education and socialisation, but ‘this form of collaboration, which has traditionally underpinned intergenerational relationships, is now threatened by a regime that insists that adult/child encounters must be mediated through a security check’ (p.xii).

The scope of child protection has become immense. Since its formation in 2002 the Criminal Records Bureau has issued 15 million disclosures, but the whole operation has now been ratcheted up several notches by the passage of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006. This has led to the creation of the Independent Safeguarding Authority which, when it is rolled out in October 2009, will require CRB checks of 11.3 million people – over one quarter of the adult population of England.
Whereas adults would once routinely have rebuked children who were misbehaving, or helped children in distress, they now think twice about the consequences of interacting with other people’s children. One of the contributors to Licensed to Hug describes the culture of fear that pervades what should be ordinary relationships:
‘My daughter is allowed to play out in the street with kids from the neighbourhood. She said she was going to Semih’s house and I said OK. Ten minutes later Semih’s mom knocked at my door and said, ‘I must introduce myself as we haven’t met.’ I thought she was going to tell me her name, have a chat, but she said she was CRB checked and her husband was CRB checked and then went away. I still don’t know her name!’
As Frank Furedi comments: ‘When parents feel in need of official reassurance that other parents have passed the paedophile test before they even start on the pleasantries, this indicates that something has gone badly wrong in our communities.’ (p.xi)
In an atmosphere of mistrust, in which adults suspect other adults and children are taught to suspect anyone other than their parents, there is a feeling that it is best not to become involved. At the inquest of a two-year-old girl who had wandered into a pond and drowned, a man who had driven past and saw her obviously lost said that he did not go to help ‘because I thought someone would see me and think I was trying to abduct her’ (p.48). This terrible story has acquired the status of an urban legend, because so many people wonder what they would have done in similar circumstances. In an almost equally distressing story, one of the respondents to a survey carried out for this book explained the problems her partner experiences when he takes their two-year-old son swimming:
‘… the mothers in the cafe he was waiting in were giving him filthy looks (apparently when he walked in it was like a scene from a Western when the room goes silent and tumbleweed blows across the foreground). This happens whenever he goes out with our son on his own, especially if he takes him into a joint changing/feeding room. Now, there is nothing strange looking about him, he’s a perfectly normal guy, so I was just wondering if any other dads out there have the same experience? He’s considering stapling his police check to his forehead every time he goes out!’ (p.53)
As Furedi says: ‘We should question whether there is anything healthy … in a response where communities look at children’s own fathers with suspicion, but would balk at helping a lost child find their way home’ (p.54).
The effect on the voluntary sector
Anyone working for a voluntary organisation who comes into contact with children in any way has to take the paedophile test.
‘From Girl Guiders to football coaches, from Christmas-time Santas to parents helping out in schools, volunteers—once regarded as pillars of the community —have been transformed in the regulatory and public imagination into potential child abusers, barred from any contact with children until the database gives them the green light.’ (p.x)
The effect of this treatment is to put some people off volunteering altogether. The Volunteer Survey 2007 found that 13 per cent of men would not volunteer because they were worried people would think they were child abusers (p.16) and 28 per cent of those who responded to an online survey carried out for Licensed to Hug said they knew someone who had been put off volunteering by the CRB process (p.18). The Children’s Commissioner, Sir Al Aynsley Green, has said that nearly 50,000 girls are waiting to join the Guides because of a shortage of adult volunteers, partly caused by the red tape of the CRB process.
Perhaps the worst thing about all this is that the vetting procedure does not provide anything like a cast-iron guarantee that children will be safe with a particular adult. All it tells us is that the person has not been convicted of an offence in the past. What happens after the vetting procedure is unpredictable, so the process ‘works as a form of impression management. It provides a ritual of security rather than effective protection.’ (p.viii). It would be much better if adults could use their discretion and professional judgement – skills that are now becoming redundant:
‘The formalisation of intergenerational contact contri¬butes to the deskilling of adulthood. If adults are not expected to respond to problems in accordance with their experience and intuition they will have little incentive to develop the kind of skills required to manage children and young people.’ (p.ix)
Halt the juggernaut
Instead of creating an atmosphere of fear and suspicion, Licensed to Hug suggests that we need to ‘halt the juggernaut of regulation’ (p.55) and, instead, behave as if the majority of adults have no predatory attitudes towards children but, on the contrary, can be relied on to help them. If we could encourage greater openness and more frequent contact between the generations, we would all benefit.
‘The adult qualities of spontaneous compassion and commitment are, we argue, far more effective safeguarding methods than pieces of paper that promote the messages “Keep Out” and “Watch Your Back”.’ (p.40)
Coverage: BBC – Today Programme / BBC Online / Daily Telegraph – Front Page / Daily Telegraph – Education / Daily Telegraph – Op-ed / The Guardian / Daily Mail / New Statesman

21 comments on “Licensed to hug”

  1. Just for the record for those that ‘do not have a problem with CRB’. Simply based on an accusation for which the person has been arrested but not charged or even worse where said person has been found innocent, this information will remain on enhanced crb which can be disclosed ‘at a chief constables discretion’ (and it ALWAYS is disclosed) until the age of 100 when it is ‘stepped down’.
    im sure this is to all our benefits…

  2. If I apply for CRB check for social care. How long it would take to check my CRB.
    Please do let me know.
    I look forward to hearing from you.

  3. Reading the above the following phrases are applicable:
    Guilty until proved innocent.
    Divide and conquer.
    Psychological warfare.
    The state and society have declared war on each and every one of us and we don’t even know it.
    As for paedophiles everywhere, anyone seen the TV broadcast by the satire show “Brass Eye” that got them banned back in the ’90s where they took the paedophile hysteria to it’s logical extreme? If you’ve ever seen it, it says it all.
    I myself am stigmatized for having a single minor (non-paedophile) caution as my criminal record, which I am stuck with for life.
    This is due to the Enhanced CRB checks that organizations are now implementing, where even minor spent offences are dug up from their graves and made to Evil Dead their way through people’s reputations.
    The ECRBs and other security checks being implemented by voluntary organisations have also turned me off trying for voluntary work. And that’s before you even consider the melonin content of my skin (I’m white and don’t tan well) and my religion (I’m a Christian) as well
    Not having an original Birth Certificate (because Mum, formerly a super-organised office administrator, who is also half-Black, ironically lost mine), not being able to afford a passport and the trip needed to get to the interview to prove I’m not a Terrorist, not having, or wanting, a Drivers Licence (because I get really sick in cars as the smell of them is like Kryptonite to me), and being the opposite of an outgoing, teamworking, sales oriented person doesn’t help either.
    This may well make me a BNP Nazi card carrying member of the KKK for saying this but I have to say that political correctness is the new enemy and should have war declared on it.
    Beause I am a person who is of the “wrong” sex, the “wrong” colour, the “wrong” religion, of the “wrong” country, etc., the Government are now putting in place “Equal Opportunities” (my butt) legislation that will effectively outlaw me from getting a job.
    Yes, I am the new Black Man who needs an equivalent of Martin Luther King to fight for the rights of all the PC oppressed like me.
    You’ll probably get the distinct impression from my post that being angry for the above reasons makes me classic BNP fodder and you would be right if it wasn’t for the fact that I see the BNP as the Nazis they really are and do not want to see the Nazi Germany thing happen all over again in England.
    (I am a White English Christian male who is 1/2 Cornish, 1/4 Welsh and 1/4 Black African who is declared gay and a likely paedophile just for wearing a moustache (because I’ve started going gray and bald and require the facial hair to balance things out and a beard on top itches like crazy) and being stuck with the same whiney, annoying voice that JD from Scrubs has (yes I have heard, to my dismay, a recording of my voice).)

  4. I have recently applied to become a reading mentor in secondary schools and have had to go through the whole references & CRB checks. Although I do not believe for one minute that anyone thinks that I, as a 64 year old grandmother, might abuse children and it might therefore be seen as a complete waste of resources, I can see that the process might put off people who would so I have made no objection. It took less than an hour to complete all the documentation – far less than the time I am volunteering to spend with children each week so I cannot see that it is such a big issue as is being made out.
    I do however worry that society is beginning to see all males as potential paedophiles. It is just one part of the over-protection that children are now subject too and the bigger issue is what needs tackling. I blame the media for reporting the small number of distressing incidents to such an excess that the risks have been vastly exaggerated.

  5. Sadly despite the stigmas that might surround men working with children, young people and vulnerable individuals I believe that the CRB check is vital to protect not only people who volunteer with these groups, but more importantly to protect these groups themselves.
    Filling out forms and giving others our personal details is a part of life, we need to do it when opening bank accounts, applying for a passport and on job applications. I’m sure there is little sympathy for people who complain about having to give personal information in these situations.
    Of course if someone is determined to be an abuser and doesn’t have a criminal conviction the CRB check will not stand as a barrier to them abusing, but at least if a person has a known conviction the check will stop them from having access to these people in the first place.
    I hope that organisations look on applications on their individual merits and give people with minor criminal convictions the opportunity to contribute positively to society through voluntary work. I know that not all do and this is a sad value judgement on those who have made mistakes and are rightly looking to rectify them.
    After all, someone who has a criminal conviction and regrets it is in a better position to relate to a marginalised young person who risks prison themselves than someone who simply doesn’t understand what factors might lead to this in the first place.
    I see CRB checks as an upfront way of showing commitment to voluntary work. I find it hard to believe that giving a few personal details to protect vulnerable people puts off genuinely committed volunteers and its slightly saddening that people let it, as it only serves to cloud the debate around protecting vulnerable people further.
    This debate is just as much about the stigma that surrounds having a criminal conviction in our society and the fact that this puts people of applying for voluntary work and contributing positively as it is about the fear of the hidden ‘abuser in every corner’.
    People should learn to think for themselves rather than behaving like headless chickens. The majority of people aren’t perverts and don’t want to have sex with children, but the sad truth is that people who want to abuse children might try to work or volunteer with them in order to do so.
    It’s about finding a balance, based on evidence not thoughtless, blind accusation. We’re all responsible for ensuring this happens especially those dedicated enough to be on the front line as volunteers in the first place.

  6. I just want to comment on my experience.
    I went for a voluntary job with the Befriending Service. I had to have five forms of i.d. along with a CRB check form to be sent off. A couple of weeks later, I was really annoyed when I got a call from the Befriending Service saying that the CRB had rejected my birth certificate as it was not an original and the fact that it was less than a year old. That was not true as I had the birth certificate for a year and a half. They then asked me to yet provide another form of i.d. I then decided not to go for the job as I thought they had gone too far with this identification process and in my mind having a birth certificate that they claimed was less than a year old hardly makes me a criminal does it? If they took one look at my criminal record they would have seen that it was clean.
    Anyway, I emailed the CRB and told them of the situation. They replied back which was a bit long winded about what i.d. should be used and when. They also said there was no evidence to suggest that they ever had received my form. Therefore, either the CRB wiped the information of myself off their system or the form was never sent by the Befriending Service in the first place. Very interesting!!!!!
    Just to say I have now found a voluntary job that I am very happy in and I would be very reluctant to apply for a voluntary job in the future that carries a CRB check.

  7. I came across this article and it confirmed everything that I have been feeling since my experiences with Scouts Canada.
    How many Scout leaders are there, in today’s modern society, where the leader is not a parent of one of the scouts in the group?
    How many scout trooped have folded; not because of the lack of children but because of the lack of male role models signing up as leaders.
    How many coaches of “non-professional” sports do not have a child of their own on the team?
    Is there a male teachers shortage?
    How come there is such a shortage of school bus drivers?
    How come young men are not signing up to fulfill their “Divine Calling” and becoming priests and ministers?
    Unfortunately, society has gone to the extreme and become paranoid that there is a child molester around every corner.
    Even with all the new security and background check, people still question a guy’s motives for wanting to work with children.
    Society now thinks that men should be doing MAN’S Work like; construction, or one of the trades, or factory, or where a suit and work in big business.
    Society has taken this position of a total hands off approach when it comes to children.
    A mother can not slap a child to stop misbehavior. If the mother even jerks the child strongly, some one with no life of their own, will call the police and report child abuse.
    Even the fathers (that are still around) are looked at with suspicion if they hug their own son in public.
    Heaven forbid if they are caught wrestling around with their son and they lift of the boys shirt to blow on their belly.
    That can be interpreted as a form of sexual abuse.
    Same thing if the father pins the boy down and tickles them.
    The boy is not screaming for him to stop because he is not enjoying the tickling. It is simply a great father and son time together.
    Yet people with nothing better to do, would phone Children’s Aid and make that family’s life hell.
    Heaven forbid if it was an uncle or family friend doing that to a boy.
    Most definitely a Scout leader would be investigated if he tried to have fun like that with his troop.
    Parents will not let their boys go to the local Y.M.C.A. for fear of a child molester hiding in every change rooms.
    How did children survive growing up in the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s?
    There is ZERO evidence that there are 100’s more child molesters in the 1990’s until today in 2008.
    What has increased is the number of False Accusations from people with nothing better to do that to make a family’s life hell.
    I’m almost 100% sure that those numbers have increased 100 times more from the 1990’s
    The child does not tell the person that “Daddy” is abusing him or her.
    There are no marks on the child.
    People just see something, like the father and son examples I gave earlier, and call the police of Children’s Aid.
    It’s too bad the Media does not report on False Accusations as much as the do on actual child molesting.
    It’s too bad Children’s Aid does not have to stand accountable. C.A. Workers and ‘friends of the family’ love having their 5 minutes of fame and their face on TV when they are right.
    Reporters love going around and interviewing those people.
    I can already hear the LAME EXCUSES if we made people just as accountable when they are wrong.
    “Oh we can’t do that because people would not come forward and report child abuse for fear of being wrong.”
    You mean that a person that sees a father give his son a strong close fist punch in the mouth and causes the boys lip to bleed would not call the authorities?
    If someone saw deep bruises on a child would not call police for fear of being wrong?
    Newsflash!!! THEY ARE CALLING NOW!
    They will continue to call under those circumstances.
    What will stop is the trashing of a family’s life because of false accusations.
    Once someone is falsely accused, that suspicion remains with the person for the rest of their lives.
    How many teachers had to relocate in order to try and put the suspicion behind them?
    To bad the person with too much time on their hands, did not have to relocate because they were publicly humiliated for falsely accusing someone.
    The entire family would have been publicly humiliated.
    The wife would have people saying behind her back things like “She should have know…”
    The daughter would have gossip about her like; “I wonder if the father abused her too.”
    The son, who is the supposed victim, would be interviewed and traumatized because he knows that “DADDY DID NOTHING WRONG TO HIM.”
    Their friends would look at them and treat them differently because the suspicion is still there.
    JUST MAYBE the suspicion would be a great deal less if it were publicly announced that the person that made the false accusation was nothing but a neighborhood gossip.
    Maybe if the truth was told that the neighbor heard the boys screaming with LAUGHTER in the back yard because his father was spending time with him and tickling him silly.
    How the neighbor would report it would be that they heard a boy screaming and saw the father pinning the boy to the ground.
    That HALF TRUTH is enough for the authorities to start and investigation.
    The FULL TRUTH is never told once the charges are dropped.
    I’m talking from personal experiences.
    Years ago, some anonymous parent thought I was “Too friendly with the boys” when I was a scout leader.
    That was the exact way it was said to the District Commissioner.
    He did a week long investigation to get to the truth.
    He gave back and told me that he could not even find the parent that made the accusation about me.
    I was allowed to go back to the scout troop but the damage was done to my reputation. The other leaders looked at me differently.
    The boys never looked at me differently. In fact, while on a district campout, a few boys wanted me to go and play with them during free time.
    The head leader said that it would be best if I stayed at the camp with the other leaders.
    Tell me my reputation was not ruined because of some busy body parent and their false accusation.
    Too bad that parent was not outed and made to feel like the liar like they were.
    I felt uncomfortable wrestling around with the boys like I use to.
    They would come up to me to playfully provoke me like that had done in the past.
    They did not understand why the other leaders were all of a sudden rebuking them.
    They did not understand why I was more distant toward them.
    The boys lost out on having fun with the same leader they liked and trusted.
    I lost out on having fun with them.
    All because some parent had nothing better to do than to spread a rumor about me.
    They did not even have the guts to come forward and repeat their accusation to the District Commissioner.
    I strongly believe that the parent was jealous of me when they saw how much their son was enjoying the time with me.
    They were jealous because I was showing their child more attention during one scout meeting than they did with their child all week.
    Since they were incapable of having fun with their son, they felt their son should not have that much fun with me.
    My situation is not an isolated incident.
    Look around at the distance children and parents have with each other. You rarely see a parent show any form of affection to their child.
    You do see parents yelling at their child.
    You see discipline.
    You see children fear their parents.
    You see teenagers roaming the streets.
    You always hear teenagers trashing their parents. That trash talk is so much different that in past generations.
    If you take the time to actually talk with the teenager, they would gladly share their true feelings about their parents.
    Most times it takes the form of them saying that their parents DON’T CARE!!
    Their parents don’t care how late they stay out.
    They don’t care who they hang out with.
    They never showed any type of affection growing up.
    The teenagers look at you like you were from another planet if you ask them if their parents ever said they loved them.
    Society wonders why the youth of today are “out of control.”
    You have to wonder? WHY?
    Society has set it up where there are no role models for the youth of today.
    They set it up where there is such a fear that a man’s actions will be misinterpreted so the male role model does not sign up to be a mentor.
    If they do sign up there is a HUGE list of DON’Ts that they have to follow.
    Don’t wrestle with the boy.
    Don’t tickle him.
    Don’t grab him and throw him around in the pool.
    AND whatever you do… DO NOT EVER HUG a boy.
    The Don’t List has been simplified over the years.
    It’s not simply “DON’T TOUCH A CHILD!”
    Do you really have to wonder why teen suicide is up?
    Do you really have no idea why children are so distant toward their parents?
    Do you really wonder why teen pregnancies are up?
    Children and teens have grown up with zero or little physical affection and love so they get it where ever they can find it.
    Do you thing a child would go off with a total stranger if they were getting love and affection at home?
    The opposite would be happening!!
    Children would be running home after school because they knew they would get a warm hug from their mom and that Daddy would spend time playing with them in the back yard.
    Now, children are told to “go watch TV”
    Parents even put TV’s in the child’s room so they would not have to watch TV together with their child.
    Parents get the child their own computer so they would not have to surf the Internet together with their child.
    It’s such a joke to heard parents say “I Never Knew….”
    I will be so bold as to sat directly to the parent. YOU NEVER WANTED TO KNOW!!!
    Parents are so grief stricken when a child a child commits suicide.
    They come up with all the traditional things like “I should of…” I could of…
    I have ZERO sympathy for parents AFTER THE FACT!
    If they said that they did everything possible and they showed the child all the love an affection they could then YES I would have sympathy.
    Is it really possible to give too much genuine love and affection to a child?
    When role models or mentors try to should affection to a child that needs it, they are falsely accused and labeled a molester.
    When a scout leader wrestles with the scouts, people say he is being “too friendly.”
    Maybe the parents should start being “too friendly” with their own children like the scout leader is.
    Prove me wrong!!!

  8. I’ve stopped taking my nephews on days out, because of the amount of times people have called the police when they see us, one person even had the gall to say “it was because the boys are half cast and you’re English”.

  9. What appears missing in this analysis and its comments (perhaps not) is the obvious desire of those in power to divide society from itself as a way of cementing its authority. What better way than to build on the success of dividing adults from themselves by ensuring that children are also separated from foregoing generations. In this government and social planners and activists are proving to be entirely successful.

  10. Laurie Kane wrote:
    “since implementation the CRB have stopped around 60,000 individual predators from interacting with children”
    Can you cite a source for those figures? I ask because surely there is a difference between 60,000 (if that is indeed the number) of CRB checks which have been refused and 60,000 ‘individual predators’ (a great Daily Mail headline figure which suggests we should be locking our children up for their safety).
    Further Laurie Kane writes:
    “when this is combined with further research which illustrates sexual offenders when they reach the third tier in the cycle of abuse (the stage when they will actually sexually assualt a child) has already had on average 3-6 victims”
    Surely a contradiction – how can they have any victims prior to reaching the “third tier”?
    And lastly you write:
    “around 200,000 children have been saved from the most horrific crimes against the person”
    Even were both of your previous claims true (they cannot be) this last is baseless scaremongering, the like of which might be at home as a headline in the worst of our Tabloids.
    Ironic that you start your post by lamenting Britains wierd obsession with peadophiles.

  11. I have read the article’s and report which I feel can be summarised as follows; as a society in 2008 the UK has become obsessed with peadophiles, an unhealthy obsession and that the identification of such sexual predators seems to be achieved through the incorporation of CRB checks, which the report illustrates has serious deficiencies.
    These deficiencies are not a result of over-stringent protection laws, but the lack inter-agency communication and alliance, which was also highlighted by the ‘Working Together to safeguard children’ report and the failings surrounding the death of Quembie Mulacambe. The best protection of children can be achieved by government agencies working together and sharing information immediately.
    Those people who think that CRB checks are becoming to prominent and time-consuming then they should consider these facts- since implementation the CRB have stopped around 60,000 individual predators from interacting with children, when this is combined with further research which illustrates sexual offenders when they reach the third tier in the cycle of abuse (the stage when they will actually sexually assualt a child) has already had on average 3-6 victims, around 200,000 children have been saved from the most horrific crimes against the person-THE CRB is therefore in my eye’s a success.
    However, if people are becoming more disheartened with the intrusion into their history, why should we make those who are innocent prove their innocence…let’s now adopt a system akin to Megan’s law where by all child sexual offenders are made known to the public and let it be them who have to prove their innocence when applying for a position of trust. And if anybody considers this an infringement of their human rights, then one must refer to the principle’s of equity within the law’s of England and Wales which states ‘those who seek equity, must come with clean hands’-therefore those who wish to rely on the protection of the Human Rights Act, should acknowledge the rights contained within the act and not under no circumstances infringe anyone else’s rights, especially the most vunerable members of our society.

  12. Firstly, we must proceed with caution. Having worked with children for the past 25 years I cannot agree with the previous comment that somehow child abuse is a myth. It is uncommon, but not so uncommon as to be able to sweep away child protection measures.
    Having said that I think that Dr Furedi’s work misses a much wider and more pervasive point. We see a huge disjuncture between children in our neighbourhoods and the communities that surround them. We regularly hear of localities where adults are scared of the local children and vice versa. This is in part caused by adults being scared of talking to children for fear of being thought a paedophile and children scared of talking to adults through the myth that we still teach children in schools that strangers are dangerous (when of course we know that the vast majority of abuse is from family or close friends). CRB exacerbates the problem but the cause is the mistrust we have engendered in both children and adults.

  13. I am a retired 67 year old teacher – I offered to be a “Library Volunteer” with or local library and was contacted today asking me to be a delivery driver twixt a library and an old persons care home. The task involves providing a shuttle service for a box of books between the library and the reception desk of the home – with no contact with the residents. Next week at interview, I have to provide three referees, copy of three of – driving licence, passport, birth certificate, utilities bill, bank statement, or insurance certificate.
    How silly.

  14. When it comes to children, it is often difficult to even have a reasoned conversation. Anyone even making the argument that society is going overboard and being counterproductive in its paranoia about pedophilia, runs the risk of being assumed to be a pedophile or friend of the pedophile. In the U.S. there was something of a witch hunt in the 1980s that sweep up many an innocent person and ruined many lives. The motto on bumper stickers at the time was “Believe the Children”. One famous case involved a day care center (McMartin Preschool) left several people languishing in jail for years. The children, with the encouragement of adults with an agenda, made the most outrageous accusations about witchcraft, and satanic ceremonies, and cannibalism. Eventually all charges were dropped and there wasn’t one conviction.

  15. As a middle-aged male who likes children of all ages, I have resigned myself to be viewed with suspicion.
    I would love to agree with this article and the other posters, that the suspicion is overdone and unfounded.
    The statistics however, indicate that child abuse is an alarmingly common occurence.
    It is much easier to complain about “paranoia” if you are not responsible for children’s welfare.

  16. I was turned down from working in a special needs class because the headteacher felt it would be awkward to explain to the parents of an incontinent child that their child’s nappy was changed by a male.
    I have been a parent governor at this school since 2003 and have undergone all the CRB checks.

  17. Given the way things are going perhaps children should be born with clothes! Most loving natural and kind parents are likely to have photos of their children in the nude for the very best of reasons. Likewise, they will hug comfort, caress and kiss their children as an expression of the natural love and affection that parents have for their offspring. It is also entirely necessary for the child’s social development if they are to form close loving relationships with others as children and later as adults. The capacity to give and receive love is so important that any move that interferes with this has to be regarded with the utmost circumspection. Clearly of course, parents do have to be on their guard and protect their children from harm because children are vulnerable but if you wrap them in cotton wool, you stunt their social development.
    What happened at ASDA though is more to do with bureaucracy than anything else. Recently I had to identify myself to open up a new bank account – I took along my electricity bill that had my address on but it was not acceptable because the word ‘Bill’ did not appear!
    I leave you with this last thought – the only useful result from a CRB check is one that gives adverse information – one that is all clear is dangerous because it lulls you into a false sense of security.

  18. The real culprit in all this the confused ‘safety’ agenda which was created in part by feminist demands which helped to fuel the ‘child abuse’ myth. It does exist of course but is not as widespread as some believe or perhaps want to believe.
    The point about the presumption of innocence is well made.
    Interestingly the human rights community has been part of the problem.
    Liberty has been silent on this aspect of innocence but has been vociferous about the presumed innocence of other suspects in other categories of crime.
    The presumption of innocence is a cornerstone and there can be no special cases for removing it.
    The CRB checks indeed go much further than criminal convictions. Police have the discretion to reveal so called ‘soft information’ : allegations which have not been tested or corroborated, hearsay and any other information which the police ‘think is relevant’. There is no objective test for this. The data may be held locally not on the Police National Computer.
    In addition so called child protection is one of about a dozen categories in which the burden of proof is effectively shifted to the accused. This is not limited to applicants but also extends to those in post who can lose their jobs on the basis of the most feeble allegations.
    When a motion opposing this practice came before the 2006 AGM of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti, the director, threatened to resign if it were passed.
    Another board member of Liberty Francesca Klug stated that the ‘safety of children was sacrosanct’ a legally meaningless formulation.
    Klug is currently a Commisioner at the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
    So thats all right then
    A fightback is urgently needed and should be part of the list of issues being discussed at the by election in Haltemprice which is ostensibly about civil liberties. Apparently with the suport of Shami Chakrabarti..

  19. It’s a sad world we live in now. And it’s not just voluntary workers, teachers etc that this affects.
    I have a teenage daughter. I work full time but my husband is often home from work by the time she is in from school. However, I have had to say she cannot have any school friends round if I’m not there myself, as my husband fears being in the house alone with other people’s teenage girls in case one of them makes up a story about him. No decent man can take that chance nowadays, despite the fact that, yes, he has CRB clearance!
    Children know too much about things we had never even heard of at their age, like rape, sexual assault, paedophilia, etc, and know so much about the law and their ‘rights’, and see this sort of thing going on in soaps on TV, that this possibility could easily become a reality which is really quite scary.

  20. Well done for talking some sense. Of all the things concerning me – a 27 year old man who is not likely to have children for some time yet – this growing culture of mistrust of adults is the main worry. Both my parents are teachers and while my mum teaches in a grammar school where the children are generally behaved, my dad used to do suppy teaching, and was, on several occasions assaulted by children as young as 11 and was powerless to do anything about it. While regulations for teachers have been modified and improved somewhat, it seems it’s going the other way for volunteers. How can we ever bring up a generation of respectful, law-abiding young people if they are brought up in a culture of fear, and adults are too scared to have any interaction what-so-ever, even with their own children!!

  21. I think there are 2 issues here :
    1 Whatever is happening to the notion that people are ‘innocent until proven guilty’ –
    supposedly the idea upon which our criminal laws are based. The CRB check reverses this by creating the notion that, until proven innocent, nobody is allowed to work with vulnerable people. There certainly should be a central register of known offenders, which is accessible to anyone; after all, the CRB check only identifies these people anyway. It does not identify those who are a potential threat
    2 All adults have a responsibility to exercise a ‘duty of care’ towards another human being in trouble. The new legislation is bound to make some people think twice about offering assistance for fear of suspicion of being a ‘pervert’ or ‘paedophile’. How very sad – damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

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