There is, perhaps understandably, a great deal of rumour flying around with regard to the likely changes in the system of Criminal Record Bureau or CRB checks, particularly as the government is delaying its long-awaited proposals. The situation has not been helped by the row over Ken Clarke’s much exaggerated remarks of last week.
This follows the announcement earlier in the year from the Home Secretary, Theresa May that she intended to inject “a measure of common sense” into the mechanism that currently prevents many thousands of people from working.
As with so many other measures initiated by Tony Blair’s new Labour government, CRB checks have not functioned as they were originally intended to. The same can also be said for the now almost notorious Independent Safeguarding Authority and of course, the much criticized IPP sentence.
Actually, most of Blair’s law and order policies seem to have been badly thought through and implemented.
CRB checks are concerning an increasingly large number of people as employers, frightened to death of not taking sufficient care over the employment of individuals, quite wrongly attach a CRB check to almost every available job opportunity. The government is pledged to put an end to this practice though whether it is likely to succeed or not is very much open to question.
There are now so many companies making money from offering CRB checking and training services that the howls of pain resulting from any real change would be heard from one end of the country to the other.
CRB checks were originally put in place to protect children and vulnerable adults from harm but have already, on numerous occasions failed to do so. The problem with CRB checks is that they only pick up people who already have criminal records and first time offenders, by definition, do not yet have a criminal record. As such, they will not be picked up by the system.
The New Labour approach therefore was to force 11 million people to undergo either CRB or ISA checks and associated vetting procedures which often included unsubstantiated rumour and, quite often, false or malicious accusations. Whilst the motivation for this was correct, that children should be protected, the approach adopted by the previous administration was not only deeply unpopular, impractical and expensive but also assumed that many of those who were subject to checks were likely to be potential sexual offenders.
To promote such a policy was not only inept and stupid politics based on a national obsession with sex offenders and paedophilia but also guaranteed that the policy would not be acceptable to the general public.
The coalition government has decided to highlight the failure of the previous government and to generously reduce the number of suspected paedophiles from 11 million to only 4 million, still a ridiculously high number. Supposedly, this will be acceptable to the public, though TheOpinionSite.org doubts that this will actually be the case.
As soon as the Home Secretary had made her announcement, the child protection lobby started to criticise her, immediately suggesting that children and vulnerable adults would be put at greater risk. This ridiculous outburst, which demonstrates clearly just how much of a financial interest these organisations have in maintaining the fear of child abuse, was rightly slapped down by the government whilst making it very clear that no government could ever take the risk of putting children in a dangerous situation as to do so would be political suicide.
Nevertheless, the Sun newspaper together with the rest of the Rupert Murdoch media empire attacked the government as being irresponsible and for putting children at risk for the sake of saving money.
As usual, much of what was printed in the tabloid newspapers was total nonsense.
So what changes can be expected in real terms?
TheOpinionSite.org is firmly of the view that actually not very much will change at all. Certainly, there will be some cosmetic changes but that is all. Parents on the school run for example will not now have to be checked. On the other hand, a 14-year-old boy who happens to help out with his local primary school football team will have to be checked to see if he is a danger to children, even though he is a child himself.
The official justification for this is that because he is over the age of 10 years old, and therefore over the age of criminal responsibility, he could be a potential paedophile and much more importantly to the authorities, is old enough to be charged and convicted as such.
In a sense, this illustrates the whole basis upon which the system is organised. That is, that the authorities are only interested in getting more and more convictions and justifying the political objectives behind the system, rather than really being concerned with the protection of children or vulnerable adults.
In other words, what we are seeing is yet another politically driven law designed to show that the government is “doing something” about a problem that is almost impossible to solve, rather than concentrating resources on where the problem truly lies. We say this because, according to the experts that the government so heavily relies upon, most abuse takes place in the home and is committed by people known to the victim rather than by strangers.
The whole industry of child protection has been built upon the false myth that the danger to children comes from strangers when in fact, it comes from those closest to them. The NSPCC in particular has fought vigorously to maintain this fear in people’s minds. It was even ordered by the Advertising Standards Authority to remove an advertisement claiming that 16% of all children suffered abuse. It turned out that the data was years old and involved children’s homes and other institutions, some of which had been run by the NSPCC themselves together with local authorities!
As CRB checks are highly unlikely to detect members of the family who happen to be sexual predators, it is almost certain that the government will ignore this fact and instead make changes that appear to do something but in fact do very little. To do anything else would be completely unacceptable from a political point of view as it would mean acknowledging the truth about child abuse; something that no government is prepared to do because no government is prepared to make laws against the family.
TheOpinionSite.org believes that any changes made to CRB checks will not be significant and will make very little difference indeed to problems experienced by members of the public who are forced to undergo what is both an embarrassing and unnecessary vetting procedure which assumes that they are probably out to harm children or vulnerable adults in their care.
The message is then, “Don’t expect too much of a change and don’t expect anything to happen quickly.”
What else would one expect in a country that employs 2 million people in its exploitative and highly profitable child protection industry, each of whom has a vote and each of whom feels that they are completely invulnerable to attack from any source, public or private; a situation which, regrettably is probably true.
Unfortunately then, whilst the government of Tony Blair created this nightmare, it is almost certainly true that the present government is unlikely to show the necessary courage that is needed to end it. Furthermore, even if the coalition did have what it takes, the fear of criticism from the tabloids and those with vested interests is still likely to limit any reforms that may be introduced.
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