Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Disproportionate Reactions?

In 2002, Ian Huntley murdered two young girls in the Cambridgeshire village of Soham. As the parent of a young girl who wasn't significantly different in age, I ached for those parents and I don't think Huntley should ever be released from prison. In fact, I can't really see any reason why he shouldn't be grotesquely executed. But I digress.

One of the crucial shortcomings of the due process that allowed Huntley to work with young children was that information implying that he may not have been suitable for working with kids was ignored. Consequently, the government felt that something had to be done, wouldn't anyone think of the children?

However, according to El Reg (and I do recommend you read their excellent analysis) we are now heading for the amazing situation where roughly one person in four out of the entire UK population will be subjected to a CRB check.

Estimates started out in 2006 that eight million people would need checking. Two years later, and the estimate is up to 11.3 million, and El Reg reckons that it's going to get worse. For comparison, eight million people is between one out of every seven of us and one out of six, 11.3 million is between one out of six and one out of five, and the current consensus is that it's going to be around 14 million, or between one out of five and one out of every four of us. And that, as Cilla might say, "is a lorra, lorra CRB checking".

And of course, it gets worse, because this will not be a check of hard facts, oh, no! Even unsubstantiated allegations against the checkee will be considered. So, it's going to be a lot more rigorous, a lot slower, a lot more expensive and, crucially, there's going to be a lot more opportunity for rumours and mud-slinging to occur. I've lost count of parents in my daughter's school who are walking away from any kind of contribution, because they just can't be bothered with the rigmarole.

It would still sort of be OK if it was PE teachers being checked, or childminders. But no, that's not rigorous enough. Anybody who comes into contact with kids regularly could find themselves being checked, or being banned from coming into contact with kids:

A mother has been told she cannot travel to school with her severely epileptic son because she has not been police checked.

Jayne Jones, of Aberfan near Merthyr Tydfil, used to travel with her son Alex, 14, in the council-provided taxi when she feared he may have a fit.

But Merthyr Tydfil council has told her this must stop until she has undergone a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.

The council said this was a standard requirement for escorting children.

Mrs Jones, 41, who is Alex's full-time carer, said: "I still don't understand why being his parent and being trained to use his drugs, I'm not allowed in the taxi.

"I would be in no contact with any children other than my own child.

"It would be a case of me going to school and catching a bus home and that's it.

"I really don't understand it."

You and me, both, Jayne.

And because the government is, as usual, afraid to say anything concrete, we have the situation where people will play it safe and the slightest blemish against anyone's name will be sufficient to have them banned from partaking and will also become a millstone round their necks for ever more.

"That Mr Jones, he failed his CRB check, he must be one of them pedestrians..."

And the Reg article goes on to show how the scope of CRB checks will widen and widen until you scarcely cannot get a job without having had a CRB check done. To go with your ID card, the GPS monitor in your car, the spying on your electronic communication ...

All that, because two little girls died tragically. I can't help but feel that even though I really felt for the parents of those two little girls, the destruction of our society is not a reasonable price to pay for preventing it from happening again. And I'm not even sure it will do that.

1 comment:

Old Holborn said...

I would never pass a CRB test. I absolutely hate the little cunts