Panorama – Are you a danger to kids?

by scotslawstudent

Are you a danger to kids? I’m not, honest. Just putting that out there.

Jeremy Vine has done a Panorama report on the new child/agencies-which-deal-with-children protection scheme that is coming into force in England & Wales and Northern Ireland soon. I’m happy that it isn’t coming Scotland, I found paying for a Disclosure Scotland report for some voluntary work in high school to be bad enough. I’m a well behaved person and I understand that getting convicted of child sexual abuse is a suboptimal way to enter the graduate employment market. Also, like just about everyone else in the country, that’s not how I roll. There’s lot of doubt about this scheme but basically I think it sounds horrible – basically the government collect a lot of stuff, I’m unsure if it’s called “data” if it’s unverified rumours, about you and decide from that if you like kids an appropriate amount. They then charge you money to tell you aren’t a paedophile. I think that’s a nice touch.

I find the idea that they’re now looking for gossip in making their decisions to be utterly horrifying – the idea that your employment status effectively gets to be determined by the nosy woman who doesn’t like you because you have a blue door on your house or something makes my skin crawl. If you’re going to listen to absolutely anything the scope for abuse is insane. It’s like something out of the Crucible, I can see why they thought it might be useful but I can’t believe it actually got through Parliament.

Of course the biggest worry with these things is that the government will leave your data on the train somewhere. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before. I was horrified to see a weaselly “I am not aware of anything from the ISA [Independent Safeguarding Authority – I know, right?] being left on train” come from its chairman’s mouth on Panorama. They’re new, I’d have preferred a straight “we’ve not left anything on the train.” I’d be interested to see if they would agree to be bound by a personal undertaking – something like “my personal data will be collected, stored and processed according to data protection principles.” Having something extra and actionable should be a good way to get inaccurate personal information amended quickly.

The ISA is pretty stoic about the fact that it is difficult to prove how effective it is but appears to be going ahead with their system anyway. However, the best statistic in the episode was from checking how many calls to Childline last year were about sexual abuse by people who would be covered by the new scheme – 13. That’s not the casual way estate agents talk about thousands, that’s three more than ten.

NB: The new regime only applies to E&W and NI applies to the UK as a whole, Scotland follows later in the year, and only to people who deal with children on a weekly basis or more and through a child caring body, so family friends are OK (although I suppose you can apply regardless). However if that’s your situation it’s a crime to come into contact with children without this document, so it’s something to sort out quickly.