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?

It will save a load of money, which might then be chanelled towards measures that really would help to protect children (e.g. better resources and training for our much maligned and hard pressed social workers).

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