Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Following my last post, a couple of people made comments pointing out that CRB checks only prove that you haven't offended yet (or haven't been caught) and that CRB ckecks are more to do with preventing people from suing you than protecting children. Resisting my temptation simply to cynically agree with them, I decided to check the numbers via the COPCA website. For 2005, which is the latest annual report available, 17763 checks were initiated (from memory, these cost around £30 a time). This yielded a total of 99 blemished disclosures. Surely worthwhile, you might think, to go through this process if it prevents 99 inappropriate people from working with children. Then you read the small print:

A "Blemished" Disclosure contains details of all convictions and
cautions. Please note however that these are not necessarily specifically related to the protection of
children and vulnerable adults and therefore may not result in a non-appointment.

So this is 99 people who may have committed offences completely unrelated to child protection (like receiving a caution for not paying their TV licence).

How many potential child abusers did the CRB checks catch? It's a nice round number: zero. As they put it: None of them however was of a nature that resulted in non-appointment.

Yes, that's right. After subjecting 17763 people to this process and spending (if I'm right about the cost) £532, 890 on the checks alone, not even including the cost of staff to administer all this, there was not a single person who was found to be unsuitable. Perhaps at some stage someone will decide that whilst it might be sensible to check clergy, religious and youth group leaders, subjecting every SVP member and hospital visitor to a check is a complete waste of time, energy and money.


Fr Ray Blake said...

In my parish were so many people have "interesting" pasts many people refuse to become involved in parish activities, because of CRB checks. This means either we don't use their skills or we ensure they have no contact with children and the vulnerable, which means we sideline children and the vulnerable. Sad

Mark said...

With all due respect, CRB checks are never a waste of time.

Proper Disclosure would have prevented Tobin gaining the job in Glasgow where he murdered Angelika Kluk. Had proper Disclosure mechanisms been in place at the time, again, the Soham murders might have been prevented.

It is annoying that we have no hard evidence of people being denied, but that does not mean that the system is not working!

Mark said...

P.S. Slight correction to myself (as usual!), the CRB process does seem different to the process in Scotland, which I am familiar with. I still think that it is an appropriate safeguard, provided the correct information is shared between Criminal Justice Agencies.

[usual disclaimer re these being my own opinions, yatta yatta, due to work]

holyfamoley said...

The process undoubtedly seems to be 'a nice little earner' for somebody but I'm not sure if there is a payment involved for those working in a voluntary capacity. Perhaps somebody involved in the administration side of voluntary groups could clarify.

Mark said...

IIRC, there is no charge for voluntary groups. Certainly, I paid no fee when I was in the Anglican Communion

Gildas said...

I checked with someone today, and you're quite right about the checks being free for volunteers. Thus I am completel wrong about the cost!

Also, I'm told that CRB no longer provides support for portability, so you really do need to do a new check even if people have a CRB from from elsewhere, annoying though this is. As I recall, when CRB was being set up, one of the benefits was suppposed to be that you wouldn't have to be checked multiple times for different roles: surely CRB could work out some way to avoid the duplication...

I don't disagree with CRB checks per se and do think they can have a role in protecting children and the vulnerable from harm as part of a wider policy.

My main gripes are that I think the checks get applied to categories of people who really don't need to be checked (like extraordinary ministers of holy communion who don't go into peoples' homes) and that additional layers of diocesan bureaucracy mean that people take far too long to get clearance.

holyfamoley said...

I was caught up in the debacle of the first checks. I had just got a job in a school which didn't routinely have me in a classroom context but as I would come into contact with children at times it was necessary to have the enhanced disclosure. I didn't actually get it until October half term so had to spend most of my time avoiding being alone with children.

I feel that at that time, in the aftermath of the Soham murders, the process was born of a kneejerk reaction to appease the mob - perfectly good and right reasons but perhaps the procedure was not properly thought through. I have been in continuous employment in that school for 5 years so my clearance is in tact. But I have to apply for another one for a PGCE course I am due to start in September. Concurrently, I am applying for another one so I can help with Children's Liturgy at church. I am all CRBd out!!! Do you reckon it would be too much to ask some streamlining of the process five years in?