Vetting chief steps in over paedophile checks row

By Alex Stevenson

Plans for a new vetting process to protect children from paedophiles have been defended by the head of the Independent Safeguarding Authority.

Sir Roger Singleton called on those angry at having to register to have their background checked, to ensure they are safe to work with children, to “calm down”.

The Home Office’s Vetting and Barring Scheme requires all those in frequent, intensive or overnight contact with children to register.

Even parents who take groups of children to and from after-school groups will have to be checked.

“We need to calm down and consider carefully and rationally what this scheme is and is not about,” Sir Roger said.

He said the scheme would not “interfere” with arrangements made by parents, create mistrust between adults and children or leave a quarter of Britons facing “intensive scrutiny”.

“It is about ensuring that those people who have already been dismissed by their employers for inappropriate behaviour with children do not simply up sticks and move elsewhere in the country to continue their abuse,” Sir Roger said.

“It is about giving parents confidence that there is no known reason why those caring for their children are unsuitable because of their previous misbehaviour.

“And it is about bringing an end to the need for repeated criminal record bureau checks which so many people have found irritating. ISA registration is a one-off process for a single fee. The Vetting and Barring Scheme is a significant development which should be debated on the facts and not on myths and inaccuracies.”

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne raised concerns about the effect the system would have on volunteers.

“Sir Roger Singleton is right about the need for a calm and rational debate about the new vetting and barring scheme,” he said this morning.

“Before one in four adults is forced to sign up to this new system, we need to establish whether this is a proportionate response to the problem of child safety.

“The biggest risk is that the government presses ahead with the scheme without adequate consideration of how it might adversely affect the number of people prepared to volunteer to work with children.”

Ed Balls tried to clarify the standards at play inthe system today, but faced continued criticism from opponenets.

“I’m afraid this is just not good enough,” shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said.

“The reality is that the government’s words on this are so vague and ill-defined that no one will know where the dividing line falls.”

Those who fail to register risk a fine of up to £5,000.