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Having a means of establishing credentials clears the suspicion rather than adding to it.

But this is precisely what a CRB check doesn't do. Even if you CRB'ed the whole parish, you'd still have to behave as though you hadn't - because the "not caught yet" risk is still present. Thus, the CRB check risks creating a false sense of security - as the above comment demonstrates.

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Guest Echo Gamba
-The police and other agencies are allowed to use 'soft' intelligence in their replies to the organisations, that is to say allegations and information that hasn't been tested in a court of law

 

Does "Innocent until proved guilty" no longer apply? :unsure:

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Does "Innocent until proved guilty" no longer apply? :unsure:

So to apply the same logic, we must assume someone is a capable and safe driver until it is proved they are not. No test or lessons need to be proved to be taken, just let them take a car on the road and hope for the best.

 

Jonathan

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I shouldn't worry too much because I gather that the whole system is changing this year and that CRB's as such will no longer exist. According to the last ISM Journal 'a centralised vetting and barring system will clear people for suitability to work with children before they start work.' Apparently we will register with this body, but they estimate some 11 million people will be eligible, so as they say, 'it may take some time before the Scheme becomes universally available.'

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So to apply the same logic, we must assume someone is a capable and safe driver until it is proved they are not. No test or lessons need to be proved to be taken, just let them take a car on the road and hope for the best.

 

Jonathan

 

I don't think that is the same logic at all. We are of course assuming here that all the children themselves are innocent. I was shocked to discover the figures released this week for exclusions in school for sexual offences, and an unbelievable number that are under 10!!

 

I provided some children for English Touring Opera 'Midsummer Night's Dream' a few years ago, boys and girls between 10-13. They all really enjoyed the experience, partly because they got to work on stage, and lark about off stage, with real actors and singers. Never for a moment did I question whether every member of the cast and crew had been CRB checked. Was I negligent here? We had parents helping out with supervision at mealtimes and with make up and loo stops, was I negligent in checking that they had been checked (given how much recorded abuse there is from family members that are not covered by CRB checks).

 

I'm not against the checks, and clearly where people have a specific role, responsibility or post, of course they should be checked, but when we are talking about member of a choir who happen to there when children are being supervised by at least 2 CRB checked people, do we not think that is where it is a step too far? Do we check the people giving out tea and coffee at the ends of services?

 

On the other hand, and I may be shot down for this, but I have no objection to carrying an ID card, as other citizens in Europe do. If it means fewer people sponging off our very generous benefits system, then I'm all for it, but that's a different topic.

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I provided some children for English Touring Opera 'Midsummer Night's Dream' a few years ago, boys and girls between 10-13. They all really enjoyed the experience, partly because they got to work on stage, and lark about off stage, with real actors and singers. Never for a moment did I question whether every member of the cast and crew had been CRB checked. Was I negligent here? We had parents helping out with supervision at mealtimes and with make up and loo stops, was I negligent in checking that they had been checked (given how much recorded abuse there is from family members that are not covered by CRB checks).

 

Personally, I wouldn't have allowed the children to take part if the adults present weren't checked, including the parent chaperones. Every school in the country requires it, even when they get it wrong, see the Amanda Hodgson case, which again shows the flaws of the system.

 

As for the new system, which I believe is welcome because it simplifies the multiple checks issue, does not take away the view that people have who do not want to be checked in the first place.

 

As for ID cards, the heavier the registration requirement of the individual, the more the state becomes of greater inportance than the individual. I fundamentally oppose the right of any government who collects data in order to control its population, and that is ultimately what the purpose of ID cards is.

 

Jonathan

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If there really are people here who think that their right not to show their cards is more important than the safety of minors, then I'm on the wrong forum, and quite possibly profession.

 

You are clearly neither and I'm not sure why you should say such a thing. No one wants children to be put at risk but such a zealous policy of inquiry into people's lives means that now nobody can be trusted without first being vetted by those "in authority". Has there been any reliable survey of whether there is a lower incidence of harm to children with the advent of tighter regulation of those who volunteer? Very likely it is not possible to gauge such a thing, by the very nature of what is being measured. Perhaps we should encourage more diverse groups that could chaperone each other.

 

It seems that we all have to pay a high price for the sins of a few. The Church Times carries a report this week that nine out of ten people are in favour of CRB checks for those volunteering with children and vulnerable adults. Asked the question on a draughty street corner I might have said the same, but the fact that this is the popular perception doesn't make it true. You do not need a CRB check to have a child and it remains a fact that most children are damaged by those in their family or immediate circle.

Perhaps we are better off legally having dwindling children's organisations because fewer people will put themselves forward to run them, given the barriers and regulation (always supposing you pass the CRB). We would be free of any imputation of blame but how much poorer is the life of the church and how much narrower the opportunities for children when those things decline. It seems that this is one more poorly thought out reaction to a perceived problem, and the repercussions may not be as envisaged. Let's hope new thinking will come up with a better solution.

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Perhaps we are better off legally having dwindling children's organisations because fewer people will put themselves forward to run them, given the barriers and regulation (always supposing you pass the CRB).

We managed to go from 12 under eighteens taking part in the music at my former church, to 37 of them, as a direct result of the rigourousness of both our CRB checks and our child protection procedures. This was achieved by ensuring a safer environment for the youngsters, as well as suddenly allowing us access to schools who had previously not been happy to let us address their 'cliental'. There was no hint of a dwindling of the organisation there, precisely the opposite.

 

Jonathan

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Yes, and I think that utterly ridiculous, and a symptom of the Nanny State.

 

The church at which I used to be a sidesman required absolutely everybody, right down to tea brewers and the flower ladies, to have an ENHANCED disclosure. They then completely failed to follow up anyone who didn't submit a form. I was still on the rota 18 months after we were told we had 28 days to comply. Furthermore, they never set up any guidelines which, as another contributor has pointed out, can very effectively deny a would-be child fiddler the opportunity.

 

By contrast, another voluntary organisation of which I am a member has had only key staff CRB checked, and has set up a rule that any minor must be accompanied by two adult members of staff whilst on the premises (or travelling to and from them), one of whom must be CRB checked. The occasional repeated breach of this rule has flushed out some worrying behaviour and the people concerned are no longer members. Interestingly, at least two of them had been CRB checked!

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The church at which I used to be a sidesman required absolutely everybody, right down to tea brewers and the flower ladies, to have an ENHANCED disclosure. They then completely failed to follow up anyone who didn't submit a form. I was still on the rota 18 months after we were told we had 28 days to comply. Furthermore, they never set up any guidelines which, as another contributor has pointed out, can very effectively deny a would-be child fiddler the opportunity.

This shows the system isn't infallible and is clearly a failure to follow best practice.

 

Jonathan

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Guest Patrick Coleman
But this is precisely what a CRB check doesn't do. Even if you CRB'ed the whole parish, you'd still have to behave as though you hadn't - because the "not caught yet" risk is still present. Thus, the CRB check risks creating a false sense of security - as the above comment demonstrates.

 

Depends whether you start off being suspicious or not...

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No one wants children to be put at risk but such a zealous policy of inquiry into people's lives means that now nobody can be trusted without first being vetted by those "in authority".

 

No, because where do you draw the line? Do you CRB the bloke with the eye patch and the stutter but not the respectable-looking chap who's always very well turned out?

 

Has there been any reliable survey of whether there is a lower incidence of harm to children with the advent of tighter regulation of those who volunteer?

 

Now this is a fair point. You don't eliminate problems, but you do demonstrate to onlookers and prospective members that you are alert to the possibility of problems and on guard. Every year, you take your car for an MoT and the garage give you a piece of paper certifying that they could find nothing dangerous about the vehicle at that moment in time. It doesn't offer a warranty that a wheel won't fall off at 90, as happened to me on Christmas eve when a wheel bearing failed. One crucial difference is that the people in the parish will never know exactly what is on your record; one diocesan secretary will, and it is that person who advises the parish that all is well or that certain measures should be put in place.

 

Perhaps we are better off legally having dwindling children's organisations because fewer people will put themselves forward to run them, given the barriers and regulation (always supposing you pass the CRB).

 

Jonathan L made an excellent point above. I can give another example. I have worked in a parish where a former member of staff (20+ years ago) recently appeared in court to answer several (about seven, I think) allegations of sexual abuse. The press watershed, and likely collapse of the very active children's groups there now, was averted - because the church has a watertight child protection policy in writing and up-to-date CRBs on all its staff (enhanced for those in paid positions). Not even the most scurrilous hack would have been able to say the church was lax in its approach and, in this case, that was about the only thing the press would possibly have been able to stir up in advance of the crown court hearing. (He was found innocent, by the way.)

 

Here in Hampshire the county council operate occasional recruitment briefing days. I expect most do. They are generally worth attending.

 

Someone earlier mentioned that the financial implications of these checks would cripple groups like the Scouts and Guides. This is not so. CRB checks are free to registered charities and certain voluntary organisations.

 

I still maintain that it is better to do something rather than nothing, or to rely solely on hunches. This is far, far too serious a topic to take a hostile stance on, because if you do, somebody will ask - why? And then the 'prying' becomes greater, and so too do the watchful suspicious eyes and the loose tongues.

 

(It doesn't matter whether you willingly subject yourself to the check, anyway, because it is always possible to write to the local chief constable asking whether they have a view about whether a check should be insisted on in the case of a particular individual. If they write back, you know there's probably something afoot.)

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No, because where do you draw the line? Do you CRB the bloke with the eye patch and the stutter but not the respectable-looking chap who's always very well turned out?

Well, according to the CRB website http://www.crb.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=2228

 

Let's first dismiss a common misconception: There is no legal requirement to vet all volunteers. Your decision to get a CRB check should be based on either

 

* A thorough risk assessment of the role to be performed by the volunteer and the extent to which this will bring them into contact with children or vulnerable adults or

* If the voluntary work is to be carried out on someone else's premises, for example a school or care home, whether it is a requirement of that organisation for a check to be done, in order to comply with the legislation that governs their business.

 

The difference in emphasis between this and the attitude of 'CRB the people who serve the coffee' is palpable. One is primarily concerned with protecting children and preventing abuse and the other seems more concerned with ensuring that, if the worst happens, there will be ring binders full of reams of carefully ticked boxes behind which to shelter.

 

The page also goes on to define 'volunteer' quite tightly and I doubt that adult members of a choir would, in fact, qualify for a free check.

 

I'm not disputing that a blanket approach may improve parents' willingness to allow children to join up - but what you're saying here is that the knowledge the everybody was checked was, in effect, good PR. I don't doubt that that is true, but what parents may perceive as making for a safe environment is not necessarily the same thing as what actually makes a safe environment.

 

Incidentally, Birmingham Local Authority would not permit parents of cast members to act as chaperones in a theatre context (other than for their own child) unless they were on the LA's official chaperones list, entry to which is very carefully vetted. So you would be in breach of all the children's performance licences if you were to rely on a rota of (say) four or five of their mums, two on duty each night, looking after (say) 8 children - even if all those mums happened to be CRB checked teacher employees of that same LA. And I applaud this approach.

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Incidentally, Birmingham Local Authority would not permit parents of cast members to act as chaperones in a theatre context (other than for their own child) unless they were on the LA's official chaperones list, entry to which is very carefully vetted. So you would be in breach of all the children's performance licences if you were to rely on a rota of (say) four or five of their mums, two on duty each night, looking after (say) 8 children - even if all those mums happened to be CRB checked teacher employees of that same LA. And I applaud this approach.

 

Yes, for a theatre group in a northern county, the advice was that parents could only chaperone their own offspring, not those of any other parent. It would not be feasible to have potentially in excess of double the number of people backstage simply to deal with young people in the cast! It is sensible, therefore, to have chaperones, appointed by the county council, and CRB checked by them, quite rightly. Once licenced, of course, such chaperones may undertake these duties for more than one group affected by the need to involved young people.

 

One thing became very apparent. The definition of 'young people' brought into the sphere of authority and care of the chaperones several older teenagers who resented being so designated. Such a problem needs all the skill and tact of the chaperones.

 

One further thing was apparent at the outset - the presence of the chaperones did not remove or supplant in any way the duty of every adult involved with that group to be receptive to any complaint from a young person, and to act on that complaint appropriately in accordance with the organisation's CP policy (as previously approved by the county council as suitable). The mere presence of the policy was insufficient, too - the adult members had to be briefed on the procedures to be adopted under that policy.

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  • 3 years later...

There's a widely reported item in today's news about how a choir and organist have been "dismissed" by their vicar in a dispute over CRB checks. If you want to read the full story you can find it here (amongst other sources). I guess the lesson from this is that a CRB check, where required, may need to be carefully handled as some may take the need for it as doubt of their integrity. Clearly churches must respect the law, and and even go beyond the minimum statutary requirements given the scandals in recent years. However this should not be at the expense of losing the support of those who contribute of their own time, effort (and cash in the collection) to it's continued existance.

 

However reading between the lines I can't help feeling that this particular story has got nothing to do with the CRB checks. It would seem that the whole CRB issue has been used as a pretext for a (relatively) young and newish (in the last two years) vicar to replace his elderly choir and organist who were being resistant to his "modern" ideas about Taize chants.

 

Coming back to the point, I was wondering how CRB checks are implemented with other members, particularly in a choir that mixes adults and children. The legal position would seem to be that only the choir leaders and anyone that works specificaly with the children need CRB checks. However I am aware of churches where all adult choir members are asked to complete a CRB check. What's your experience?

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I was CRB checked as 'Choir Leader' 'suitable' for working with both children and vulnerable adults back in 2005.

 

The resultant documentation from these checks is always only valid on the day the documentation is provided/ produced. I haven't been asked to confirm my 'suitability' since!!

 

Tony

 

Coming back to the point, I was wondering how CRB checks are implemented with other members, particularly in a choir that mixes adults and children. The legal position would seem to be that only the choir leaders and anyone that works specificaly with the children need CRB checks. However I am aware of churches where all adult choir members are asked to complete a CRB check. What's your experience?

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The Mail article worries me, not least because of the number of times the word "alleged" appears. And frankly if the headlines are to be believed:

 

"Two members who had together sung in the choir for a century were sacked" I'd be rather more worried at the health and safety implications of having several centagenarians in the choir stalls than by their reluctance to be CRB checked. The headline of course is sensationalising.

 

Though I can't help wonder if CRB checks are a solution in search of a problem. At one church I attended, the age of the congregation increased the closer one came to the altar. The children and families all sat at the back where they could make a sharp exit if required, and the (elderly) choir were obviously at the front. The choir were the least likely of anyone in the church to actually come into contact with children, yet CRB checks were required for choir members. One couldn't help wonder if someone somewhere had got the idea that CRB checks were more to protect the choir against children than the converse.

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Though I can't help wonder if CRB checks are a solution in search of a problem. At one church I attended, the age of the congregation increased the closer one came to the altar. The children and families all sat at the back where they could make a sharp exit if required, and the (elderly) choir were obviously at the front. The choir were the least likely of anyone in the church to actually come into contact with children, yet CRB checks were required for choir members. One couldn't help wonder if someone somewhere had got the idea that CRB checks were more to protect the choir against children than the converse.

 

 

=============================

 

 

This England to-day.

 

I wouldn't worry, because Jesus himself wouldn't be appointed anywhere as a clergyman, on the basis that he was a bit "strange," single, talked to prostitutes and taxmen, didn't toe the religious and political divide and clearly didn't have a university degree.

 

We've come along way!

 

MM

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I know of a lady who had been an exemplary teacher for the best part of 40 years or more, a role that did not require her to have a CRB certificate. When she retired she offered and was accepted to return to her school as an unpaid person who listened to children with reading difficulties and helped them overcome their problem. She was unable to fulfil this role until she had been CRB checked and was in possession of the appropriate certificate. How utterly ridiculous!

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I know of a lady who had been an exemplary teacher for the best part of 40 years or more, a role that did not require her to have a CRB certificate. When she retired she offered and was accepted to return to her school as an unpaid person who listened to children with reading difficulties and helped them overcome their problem. She was unable to fulfil this role until she had been CRB checked and was in possession of the appropriate certificate. How utterly ridiculous!

 

I couldn't agree more, Unfortunately, these days the only thing that seems to matter is ticking the appropriate boxes!

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  • 4 weeks later...

I hadn't meant to come over as negative about the checks, merely the system. Any system which discourages or is likely to find abusers is to be welcomed, particularly as the church and musicians seem to have their fair share of bad publicity over the issue.

 

-If it is a government requirement to have the checks, then they should be paying for it, not the organisation. It is crippling Scouts, Cubs etc, not to mention the burden on smaller churches.

 

-A person should only be required to have one check, not by multiple employers. I have a colleague whose husband volunteers as a trustee to a charity which supports children's play areas. He has to have been checked by all eight play areas, as they are separate organisations, even though they receive funding from the same place. At £45 a shot, you can see who is raking it in here.

 

Two of many anomalies of the system!

 

I would be interested to know whether the RCO examiners have to be CRB checked or not. The other major exam boards (AB, Trinity/Guildhall, LCM) all do, but I can't find anywhere in the RCO literature that says the examiners are. Common sense would tell you that most (if not all) already hold a clearance from a cathdral, college or school.

 

Davidh, you highlight a problem of offences that are not reported or prosecuted. The non reporting ones is an issue, when in the past an employer has discreetly asked an employee to leave without causing a fuss. But authorities are much tighter about cautions, non-prosecutions, and prosecutions that don't result in a conviction. The Soham case revealed that information and intelligence was known about, but not acted on as the authorities couldn't be absolutely sure of a conviction. Having had a Child Protection INSET at school recently, and a high profile local case, the police only prosecute when they are pretty certain (90% was quoted) sure they will get a conviction. From my understanding, this so called 'soft' information from cases where there is only a caution, or even an allegation, the police are allowed to disclose it to the potential employer now, whereas in the past they weren't. This leaves a rather large grey area.

 

Regarding 'soft information' - as I understand it one has to accept one was guilty of the offence before the police can issue a caution - which does then count as a criminal record on a CRB. This will possibly include instances where the Police / CPS would not want to run the risk/expense of losing a case in court - and also where the defendant had not insisted a lawyer come to the police station to advise them about whether or not to accept a Caution!

 

When the CPS lose a court case the defendant is found 'not guilty' - which may not always be synonymous with 'innocent.' CRB clearance is - as several have said - a bit of a minefield.

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