NEW child-protection measures under the Government’s Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) continue to attract accusations of a disproportionate response to everyday situations.
All those who work with children will have to register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) for November 2010, a single regulation scheme that provides for continuous monitoring and the replacement of standard Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks with a full enhanced disclosure (News, 23 October).
Among many accounts of responses regarded as over-the-top, The Sunday Telegraph reported the case of a parent in the Roman Catholic diocese of Hexham & Newcastle, Charles Jackson, who was told that a check was required if he wanted to attend the Liturgy Class at St Charles’s RC Church in Gosforth with his three-year-old daughter.
He told the paper: “I wasn’t even a helper at the church. It was just a case of me wanting to sit with her during the Sunday School service. They said it was in case I ever had to take another child to the lavatory.”
The Safeguarding Office of the diocese of Hexham & Newcastle confirmed on Tuesday that such a procedure was in place. A group such as the Liturgy Class would have more than 15-20 children and a minimum of two regulated adult leaders. Parents wanting to sit with their own children could do so, but, unless they had been checked, could not sit with any other child to help him or her with activities such as colouring, model-making, or drama.
A Church of England spokesman said: “While we support the spirit of robust approaches to child protection, this case appears to be a somewhat over-zealous interpretation of the new vetting and barring scheme.
“Parents who simply accompany their children to church activities and take no regular part in supervising or leading that activity do not need to have CRB checks. However, it is right that if such parents are called upon to supervise children on a regular one-to-one basis, checks would be necessary.”
The Telegraph also reported the fury of a school that was not allowed to host members of a visiting hockey team in pupils’ homes because the families had not been individually vetted.