School run checks are pantomime'
PUBLISHED: 10:46 17 September 2009 | UPDATED: 11:05 23 August 2010
A COUNSELLOR for victims of sexual abuse said a government initiative to force parents who do the school run to undergo criminal record checks is a blunt instrument . The vetting scheme has been under discussion for around a year and last Sunday it came
A COUNSELLOR for victims of sexual abuse said a government initiative to force parents who do the school run to undergo criminal record checks is a 'blunt instrument'.
The vetting scheme has been under discussion for around a year and last Sunday it came under fire from people, including ChildLine founder Esther Rantzen, for breeding the distrust of parents.
However, Malcolm Gilbert, director of Family Matters in Wrotham Road in Gravesend, said most rapists and paedophiles go undetected and therefore would not even show up on such checks.
He said: "It is a bit pantomime really. The vast majority of child abuse cases go unreported. They generally happen in and around the family home and it nearly always goes undetected.
"This means that only a small minority of abusers get convicted and would show up on Criminal Records Bureau [CRB] checks.
"So whilst I applaud the government's efforts to support the safeguarding of schoolchildren, I think it is an effective tool. It is a blunt instrument and it won't achieve anything."
The legislation is set to take effect in July next year and will apply when the school has organised parents to transport pupils, when adults transport children on a frequent or intensive basis or on overnight trips.
Parents who make private arrangements as to the collection of their children will not have to undergo CRB checks.
Brian Chadwick, the Dartford and Gravesend secretary for the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: "If most of these people are escaping the radar, then what use is a CRB check?
"It will just deter generous-hearted parents from giving lifts when schools rely heavily on their support."
In a letter to the DCSF select committee chairman, Barry Sheerman, last Monday, education secretary Ed Balls said: "It is essential to ensure that children and vulnerable adults are properly safeguarded and that we do everything we reasonably can to protect them from those who seek to do them harm.
"Asking those who work with children to join this new scheme is categorically not a presumption of guilt but is, I believe, a sensible and proportionate contribution to keeping children safe.