The much criticised Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) brought in by New Labour after the Soham Murders, is to be scrapped.
Reports in the Daily Telegraph indicate that the reforms will be announced as part of the Freedom Bill being introduced to Parliament next week.
The VBS, which had been criticised almost from its inception, was so badly thought out that it ended up being full of unintentional consequences and threatened to put 11 million people under the eye of suspicion.
It was after the conviction of Ian Huntley that Tony Blair crumbled under pressure from the Sun newspaper, the NSPCC and many other child protection groups, together with a sustained campaign by the likes of Sara Payne.
An enquiry was set up under the chairmanship of Sir Michael Bichard ‘ to look into child protection procedures‘ and the results were published in June 2004. Bichard made many recommendations, all of which were notionally accepted by the government.
TheOpinionSite.org and many others were therefore not surprised that the eventual result was the VBS, which came on top of the introduction of the Criminal Records Bureau which had been launched in 2002.
Initially, the child protection industry was ecstatic claiming that children would be safer as a result of the VBS. The NSPCC in particular, together with politicians such as the discredited home secretaries David Blunkett and later, Jacqui Smith jumped on the band wagon and started to cash in on child protection whenever and wherever possible.
However, when it was made clear just how many people would have to register with yet another newly created child protection organisation, the Independent Safeguarding Authority, the public were horrified.
It seemed that just about anyone who had anything to do with children once a week would be covered by the new requirements.
New Labour tried to quell opposition by substituting the weekly period with that of a month but, after the election last May, the Coalition decided that it was time to “bring some common sense” to the issue.
Meanwhile, companies have been running numerous different courses in ‘Child Protection‘ and charging £300 per day per person. What one might describe as “a nice little earner“.
What is more, millions have already been wasted by companies, voluntary groups and other organisations who really can’t afford it, trying to ensure that they were ready to comply with yet another new law brought in to ‘protect children‘.
Last October, the Home Secretary, Theresa May halted the scheme and next week its end will be announced.
A relaxation of the regulations covering CRB checks will also be announced following huge criticism of the Criminal Records Bureau. (You can find much more detail in this month’s Subscribers Only Newsletter which you can get here)
TheOpinionSite.org is pleased at this uncommon outbreak of sensible thinking. Do not be fooled though into thinking that the very lucrative UK Child Protection Industry, having done so well for itself during the years of New Labour, is suddenly going to throw in the towel.
Today has already seen various child protection ‘experts’ and ‘consultants’ popping up on the BBC (though interestingly not Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News) claiming that the government is taking a retrograde step that will put the protection of children back 10 years and that offenders will have unfettered access to children and so on.
These very well paid people with a huge vested interest conveniently forget that the VBS and the CRB only trap people with convictions. Even they have had to admit that most child abusers are at liberty and have no convictions, mainly because most abuse takes place in the home of the child.
Nevertheless, this is the first blow that the child charites, campaigners and supporting media have had to suffer for a very long time. Hopefully, they will suffer again soon and we can all get back to a world where children are no longer afraid of adults and adults no longer afraid of children; just as in other European countries.
In that scenario, the only people to suffer will be those who make money from the suffering of others.
TheOpinionSite.org must make one more point though. Even though we and most ordinary people applaud the government’s move, it must be admitted that it is to some extent about money, to some extent about getting rid of New Labour policies and to some extent about showing that the Coalition will not be pushed around by the tabloids or the child protection industry.
Nor must we forget that although the new government is scrapping the VBS now, it is still a fact that when they were in opposition, they all voted for it. That sounds very much like hypocrisy to us.