CRB checks are too elaborate and don’t work

CRB checking legislation, a bureaucrat's wet dream, was introduced in the wake of anti-paedophile hysteria and if I doubt if it has actually protected more than a tiny handful of children, while causing inconvenience and expense to literally millions of caring people.   I do not belittle pedophilia, having met a few paedophiles in the line of my professional work: their seeming normality and moral blindness is scary and vigilance is certainly called for.  However, children are not at risk from the sort of people who will honestly and painstaking fill in a CRB form.  They are at risk from the sort of people who will give false information on a CRB form, which is then worthless; from the sort of offenders who are clever enough to have avoided arrest and conviction for their crimes of abuse; or – particularly – from family members who will not have been asked to fill in a CRB form in the first place.

Obviously there needs to be a sex offenders register and employers need to know if any of their staff are on it.  So a simple form is required that allows them to ask the police if that is so. And that's it.  And you only need to be checked once, or at periodic intervals, by one authority.  I am CRB checked for work.  I now need to be CRB checked again for a voluntary organisation; – why?  What is that organisation going to find out that isn't already known about me?  I might feel different if I had something to hide, but then one check would expose my secret, if I had one.

So, simplify the system, end all the duplication of form-filling but above all: let's see the evidence that CRB checking has done anything to protect children or curb pedophilia.  There's an ongoing protest against Catholic priests, some of whom have abused children for years.  Question, if CRB checking had been in place would it have exposed or prevented their misdemeanours?  Of course not, because all a CRB check does is establish whether you have been convicted of any offence – but these priests, with the collusion of Mother Church and sometimes even the victims themselves, have gone to great pains to ensure that their abuse has never come to light.

Why is this idea important?

CRB checking legislation, a bureaucrat's wet dream, was introduced in the wake of anti-paedophile hysteria and if I doubt if it has actually protected more than a tiny handful of children, while causing inconvenience and expense to literally millions of caring people.   I do not belittle pedophilia, having met a few paedophiles in the line of my professional work: their seeming normality and moral blindness is scary and vigilance is certainly called for.  However, children are not at risk from the sort of people who will honestly and painstaking fill in a CRB form.  They are at risk from the sort of people who will give false information on a CRB form, which is then worthless; from the sort of offenders who are clever enough to have avoided arrest and conviction for their crimes of abuse; or – particularly – from family members who will not have been asked to fill in a CRB form in the first place.

Obviously there needs to be a sex offenders register and employers need to know if any of their staff are on it.  So a simple form is required that allows them to ask the police if that is so. And that's it.  And you only need to be checked once, or at periodic intervals, by one authority.  I am CRB checked for work.  I now need to be CRB checked again for a voluntary organisation; – why?  What is that organisation going to find out that isn't already known about me?  I might feel different if I had something to hide, but then one check would expose my secret, if I had one.

So, simplify the system, end all the duplication of form-filling but above all: let's see the evidence that CRB checking has done anything to protect children or curb pedophilia.  There's an ongoing protest against Catholic priests, some of whom have abused children for years.  Question, if CRB checking had been in place would it have exposed or prevented their misdemeanours?  Of course not, because all a CRB check does is establish whether you have been convicted of any offence – but these priests, with the collusion of Mother Church and sometimes even the victims themselves, have gone to great pains to ensure that their abuse has never come to light.

Wedding law: authorise the registered person not the place

In England, people who want to get married have to go to an authorised place – church, registry office, hotel or similar.  I've heard that in Scotland it is not the place but the person authorised to conduct the ceremony that counts: so it can happen anywhere the couple choose. I'd.  If men and want to get married in a place that's special to them, and the authorised person, civil or religious, is willing to conduct the ceremony there, that should be an end to the matter.  I'm not sure if my daughter and her partner will ever get married but if so I guess they would want it to be in a cave (they met through caving).  And I cannot for the life of me see why they shouldn't be allowed to.

Why is this idea important?

In England, people who want to get married have to go to an authorised place – church, registry office, hotel or similar.  I've heard that in Scotland it is not the place but the person authorised to conduct the ceremony that counts: so it can happen anywhere the couple choose. I'd.  If men and want to get married in a place that's special to them, and the authorised person, civil or religious, is willing to conduct the ceremony there, that should be an end to the matter.  I'm not sure if my daughter and her partner will ever get married but if so I guess they would want it to be in a cave (they met through caving).  And I cannot for the life of me see why they shouldn't be allowed to.

Listed Buildings Act – make “de-listing” easier

This Act was designed to preserve our (architectural) heritage and within limits I am in favour of that.  However, it allows for a building to be listed on arbitrary grounds by people who have no responsibility for maintaining it, and against which it is extremely difficult to appeal.  This needs to change.  The onus should be on those who list a building (government/local authorities/heritage groups or whatever) to provide the funds to maintain it in the condition required by the grading.  Since that's not going to happen in most cases, it should then be possible for those responsible for the building to alter or demolish it as they see fit.  If the community objects, let the community put up the money to preserve it. 

Why is this idea important?

This Act was designed to preserve our (architectural) heritage and within limits I am in favour of that.  However, it allows for a building to be listed on arbitrary grounds by people who have no responsibility for maintaining it, and against which it is extremely difficult to appeal.  This needs to change.  The onus should be on those who list a building (government/local authorities/heritage groups or whatever) to provide the funds to maintain it in the condition required by the grading.  Since that's not going to happen in most cases, it should then be possible for those responsible for the building to alter or demolish it as they see fit.  If the community objects, let the community put up the money to preserve it.