Parent drivers face paedophile checks

By staff

Parents who drive groups of children to sports and social clubs will have to be CRB checked under the governments new vetting and barring scheme, it was revealed today.

Those who fail to register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority could face fines of up to £5,000.

It is expected that 11.3 million people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will register with the authority.

The scheme is aimed at stopping paedophiles gaining access to children and was recommended by the Bichard report after the Soham murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman by Ian Huntley, a school caretaker.

Huntley gained his job despite past allegations of sex with underage girls.

Criminal penalties, including jail terms, for employers who allow access to children and vulnerable people to those who have been barred by the scheme, come into force in October.

However, critics fear that voluntary helpers will be put off by the new rules. Award-winning author, Phillip Pullman called the database “corrosive to healthy social interaction” and has threatened to boycott his school visits in protest.

A Home Office spokesman said “informal” arrangements between parents to offer lifts would not be covered.

“We believe this is a commonsense approach, and what parents would rightly expect,” he said.

“The UK already has one of the most advanced systems in the world for carrying out checks on all those who work in positions of trust with children and vulnerable adults.

Martin Narey chief executive of Barnardo’s said: “If the vetting and barring scheme stops just one child ending up a victim of a paedophile then it will be worth it.”

However, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, Chris Huhne, said the system was a “disproportionate response” that risked deterring volunteers from coming forward.

“The worst unintended consequence would be if it stopped people and charities from volunteering with children because of the fear of draconian fines,” he said.

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said: “We are going to drive away volunteers, we’ll see clubs and activities close down and we’ll end up with more bored young people on our streets. The government has really got to see sense.”

Parents who host foreign pupils as part of school exchange trips will also have to be vetted.