Children’s vetting scheme disbanded
15.06.10 | Catherine Neilan
New home secretary Theresa May is to announce today that the vetting scheme being introduced for adults working with chidren is to be put on hold.
According to the BBC, there will be a review of the entire vetting and barring scheme, with a “scaling back” likely to follow. It had been due to begin next month.
Echoing what many critics had said, May told the BBC that the measures were “draconian”.
“You were assumed to be guilty until you were proven innocent, and told you were able to work with children,” she said. “All sorts of groups out there were deeply concerned about this and how it was going to affect them.
The government is now contacting 66,000 organisations, including charities, voluntary groups and education authorities, to tell them that the planned registration is being cancelled.
Children’s authors had been among the most vocal critics of the scheme, with Philip Pullman describing the plans as “ludicrous and insulting”. He and other writers had said they would stop going to schools if the changes went ahead.
Last year, he told The Bookseller: “It will make it easier for some people, like authors and illustrators, to do their jobs without interference from bungling nosey parkers. But the main objection remains, because the main objection was never to say ‘Authors are special’. The main objection is that there is now in place a massive bureaucracy whose function is to enquire into the most private areas of people’s lives.”
At the end of last year, the government conceded that only those working with the same children once a week, rather than once a month, will be included in the scheme. Although broadly welcomed by authors, Pullman warned it was still a “fundamentally unhealthy” form of regulation.
The database would have covered nine million people – or one in four of the adult population. It would have cost £64 to register.