A headmaster caught fishing with an out-of-date rod licence is waiting to hear if he will lose his job for having a criminal record.
Bob Yeomans described his predicament as 'child protection gone mad' after his conviction for forgetting to renew
the £25 permit was referred to a council panel.
Yeomans, the head of St John's Church of England Primary in Walsall for 26 years, was caught by a water bailiff last summer while on a fishing trip on the Dove in Derbyshire. Horrified at his
oversight, he immediately pleaded guilty. He later paid a £50 fine and £70 costs and considered it the end of the matter.
But almost a year later the offence was flagged up by the Criminal Records Bureau following a routine background check.
The chair of governors was notified there could be an issue with a CRB check and rang to tell me, Yeomans said. I said, 'Is it a member of staff?' and he said, 'No, it's you'.
I was shocked. In effect, he was being asked if I was
fit to work with children for forgetting to renew my rod licence.
As required by procedure, the chairman referred the matter to a council panel that decides whether staff can continue teaching.
It's a bit of a joke in the school
now, he said. But you'd have thought someone would have had some common sense at an earlier stage. It was just child protection gone mad. It was clear the offence was irrelevant.
Mick Brookes, of the National Association of Head
Teachers, said: He forgot to renew his fishing licence... that is the level of trivia that is bedevilling us all - it's petty.
A spokesman for Education Walsall, part of the Serco group which runs education with the council, said the panel
dealing with such cases looked at factors including the seriousness of the offence or allegation, the history of offences and time since the event in question. In the vast majority of cases, a positive trace will not mean that a person cannot be
employed or continue to be employed.
A quarter of the adult population faces vetting in an escalation of child protection policies, according to a report.
The launch of a new Government agency will see 11.3million people vetted for any criminal past before they are approved to have
contact with children aged under 16.
But the increase in child protection measures is so great it is "poisoning" relationships between the generations, according to respected sociologist Professor Frank Furedi. advertisement
In a report for think tank Civitas, he said the use of criminal records bureau checks to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults has created an atmosphere of suspicion.
As a result ordinary parents - many of whom are volunteers at
sports and social clubs - now find themselves regarded "potential child abusers".
Professor Furedi said most adults now think twice before telling off children who were misbehaving, or helping children in distress for fear of the
He said that the need for the checks had transformed parents in the regulatory and public imagination into potential child abusers, barred from any contact with children until the database gives them the green light.
From next year the new Independent Safeguarding Authority will require any adult who come into contact with children or vulnerable adults either through their work or in voluntary groups to be vetted.
But Prof Furedi's report, Licensed to Hug, highlighted examples of when adult-child relationships were distorted by the need for CRB checks already being required by schools and other organisations.
In one example, a woman could not kiss
her daughter goodbye on a school trip because she had not been vetted. In another, a mother was surprised to be told by another parent that she and her husband were "CRB checked" when their children played together. In a third example, a father
was given "filthy looks" by a group of mothers when he took his child swimming on his own.
Prof Furedi details how one woman was made to feel like a "second class mother" because she was barred from a school disco because she
did not have a CRB check.
Prof Furedi, a sociology professor from Kent University, said that adults are no longer trusted or expected to engage with children on their own initiative. When parents feel in need of official reassurance that other
parents have passed the paedophile test before they even start on the pleasantries, something has gone badly wrong in our communities.
We should question whether there is anything healthy in a response where communities look at children's
own fathers with suspicion, but would balk at helping a lost child find their way home.
Figures show that volunteering is on the decline with 13 per cent of men saying they would not volunteer because they were worried people would think they
were child abusers, according to a survey last year. The report comes after Children's Commissioner, Sir Al Aynsley Green, said 50,000 girls were waiting to join the Guides because of a shortage of adult volunteers, partly caused by the red tape of the
Hundreds of innocent people have been wrongly branded as criminals by the Government agency set up to vet people working with children, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.
Thousands of people are being forced to have multiple CRB checks for
different jobs because the checks are currently not transferable
People applying to take up jobs as teachers, nurses, childminders and even those volunteering to work with youth groups are likely to have been among those falsely accused of
wrongdoing by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).
Those wrongly accused by the CRB face having their careers blighted or being stigmatised by their communities. They also face having to endure an appeals process to clear their names. Article
The CRB, an agency of the Home Office, was set up to vet those working with children or vulnerable people. It carries out checks on criminal convictions, cautions and reprimands, while an enhanced check also examines any other
information held by local police forces.
However, figures seen by The Daily Telegraph disclose that in the year to February 2008, 680 people were issued with incorrect information on their background checks by the CRB.
The disclosure is
likely to deter many from applying for positions which require a check.
The Daily Telegraph has further learnt that the CRB agency is plagued by delays and mistakes which is jeopardising its efficiency. It is the latest Government agency to face
questions over its handling of sensitive personal data.
Last night, the Conservatives said that blocking innocent people from working with children was "completely unacceptable" and that the CRB needed an urgent overhaul. It has also
David Ruffley, a shadow Home Office minister, said: Nearly 700 mistakes that could ruin people's lives is 700 too many. There is an emerging crisis of public confidence in the handling of this public information.
Home Office admitted that mistakenly branding innocent people as criminals was "regrettable".
A Criminal Records Bureau spokesman said: The Criminal Records Bureau's first priority is to help protect children and vulnerable adults,
and we will always err on the side of caution to help ensure the safety of these groups.
A mother has been barred from travelling in the taxi provided by the council to take her own son, Alex, the five miles to school.
Her offence? Not to have had a Criminal Records Bureau check.
Mrs Jones has fallen foul of the council's
policy which considers anyone travelling with the teenager to be working on its behalf and, therefore, obliged to have CRB clearance.
Now Alex, who has cerebral palsy, must travel alone until his mother passes the police check.
Merthyr Tydfil Council Pedantry Officer said: The CRB checking is a requirement of our transport provisions in relation to adults travelling on home-to-school transport in the capacity of an escort.
This is a standard requirement and has been
for several years. Any adult acting as an escort will, in the public gaze, be viewed as acting with the full acquiescence of the council and hence with its implied authority.
For the protection of the council and all vulnerable persons in its
care it's essential all those endowed with an authority, implicit or explicit, should meet the security requirements within the transport contract provisions.
A recent study has warned that the rapid spread of child protection checks and
health and safety rules has 'poisoned' relations between adults and children and left youngsters at greater risk. It said CRB checks and the rise in other regulation have fuelled an atmosphere of suspicion and left adults afraid to intervene or take
A recent landmark ruling by the High Court takes the UK one step closer to becoming an “informant society” along the lines of the former East Germany or Soviet Union.
The Register previously reported on the case of deputy head, John
Pinnington, who was fired from his job when an enhanced criminal record background (CRB) check turned up allegations of abuse made against him. He took his case to judicial review, arguing that the allegations were seriously flawed, were unsubstantiated,
and that the police should only include them in a CRB check where there were some grounds to believe they might be true.
This view was rejected, as Lord Justice Richards ruled that there was nothing unlawful about the actions of the Police force
in passing on allegations. And future employers "should be aware" of the accusations, however weak and unreliable they are.
Council staff have been ordered to stop and quiz any adults found walking in Telford Town Park without a child.
Anyone who wants to go to the park but is not accompanied by at least one youngster will have to explain why they are there.
Telford campaigners battling to retain full public access to the park today branded the policy
draconian and authoritarian madness but the council defended the policy, claiming it had a responsibility to protect the vulnerable.
The policy came to light after two environmental campaigners dressed as penguins were thrown
out of the park last month when caught handing out leaflets on climate change.
Telford & Wrekin Council said Rachel Whittaker and Neil Donaldson of the Wrekin Stop War pressure group were ejected because they had not undergone Criminal
Records Bureau checks or risk assessments before entering the park.
David Ottley, Telford & Wrekin's sports and oppression manager, said in a letter seen by the Shropshire Star: Our Town Park staff approach adults that are not associated
with any children in the Town Park and request the reason for them being there. In particular, this applies to those areas where children or more vulnerable groups gather, such as play facilities and the entrances to play areas. This is a child safety
precautionary measure which members of staff will continue to undertake as and when necessary.
Former childcare social worker John Evans said: It is authoritarian madness which can only be based on ignorance. It appears that the council
wants to use child protection as a cover for anything they don't like taking place in the park, like the campaign against global warming by those two people who were handing out leaflets. It is absurd, it is insulting and what's more it is dangerous as
it panics people about the dangers their children face.
Councillor Denis Allen, cabinet member for community services, said: Our staff are asked to approach adults without children in areas where children gather such as play areas, using their
own judgement and discretion.
Comment: Telford Bulldozer through their Park Policy
11th September 2008, thanks to David
According to someone who lives in the area:
This is a little deeper than you know. The Telford Town Park was recently almost built over under first a labour administration and under the first few months of this Conservative administration. A gentlemen went out
into the park to leaflet people to let them know what was going on. He led a campaign that was politically embarrassing to the council and its authorities and they confiscated the leaflets and stopped him handing them out.
He demanded an apology
and an explanation.
When the council were pressed for a reason why they took this action, after many, many attempts to get a reply, the officers came up with this "policy" as the reason. It's junk made up after the fact to justify what
was in effect an attempt to silence somebody who didn't agree with their development plans.
Now the same guy raised and won a parish referendum. It made enough fuss and garnered enough support, with others, to cause the council to rethink the
policy. Though the Park is not certain to be saved in its entirety the position is now much more secure.
When the two environmental protesters came into the Park dressed as Penguins, the council were stuck with their recently made up policy and
enforced it. So earning themselves a rebuke from the Home Office as well.
Ministers are under intense pressure to scale back plans for a big brother child protection database which will force millions of parents to undergo paedophile and criminal checks.
In a major blow for the Government, Britain's largest
children's charity, the NSPCC, criticised the regulations for parent helpers which it said threatened perfectly safe and normal activities and risked alienating the public.
Esther Rantzen, the founder of the Childline charity;
paediatricians; teachers; children's authors; politicians and members of the public also joined the growing coalition opposing the Vetting and Barring Scheme, which could lead to one in four adults being screened.
Barry Sheerman, Labour chairman
of the Commons' children and families select committee condemned the way the policy was being implemented and demanded that Children's Secretary Ed Balls get a grip on this.
Next month parents in England and Wales who take part in any
formal agreement to look after children – even if it is as little as once a month – will be told they have to register with the new Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) – at a cost of £64. From next summer, parents who have failed to register
with the ISA could face prosecution.
Critics claim parents will be wrongly labelled as criminals. Others fear that those who currently give up their time to help out in schools and clubs could give up rather than go through the hassle of
Wes Cuell, director of services for children and young people for the NSPCC, said: The warning signs are now out there that this scheme will stop people doing things that are perfectly safe and normal, things that they shouldn't
be prevented from doing.
When you get this degree of public outcry there is generally a good reason for it. I think we are getting a bit too close to crossing the line about what is acceptable in the court of public opinion. We don't want to
throw the baby out with the bathwater.
'Better safe than sorry' guidelines at the vetting agency
How long before such lifestyle choices such as holidaying in Thailand gets people banned from working with kids for life? And on the other side of the coin, I bet they will never
consider being a religious cleric as a risk factor.
People could be banned from working with children because of their attitudes or lifestyles.
Workers judged to be loners or to have a chaotic home life could be barred from working with vulnerable people, even though there is no evidence that they
pose a risk, according to guidelines from the Government's new vetting agency.
Decisions about staff will be taken by officials who have never met them, based on details passed on by their employers.
Experts claimed that the Big Brother
approach meant innocent people could have their careers wrecked on the basis of cruel rumours or ill-informed moral judgements.
The row is the latest controversy to hit the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), which was set up to vet
millions of people working with vulnerable people.
Guidance seen by The Sunday Telegraph, which has been given to more than 100 case workers at the ISA reveals that those referred could be permanently blocked from work if aspects of their home
life or attitudes are judged to be unsatisfactory.
It says case workers should be minded to bar cases referred to them if they feel definite concerns about at least two aspects of their life, which are specified in the document.
It means, for example, that if a teaching assistant was believed to be unable to sustain emotionally intimate relationships and also had a chaotic, unstable lifestyle they could be barred from ever working with children. If a nurse was
judged to suffer from severe emotional loneliness and believed to have poor coping skills their career could also be ended. ISA's case workers are expected to establish the person's relationship history and emotional state based on the file
passed on by their employer.
Psychologists, professional regulators and health and teaching unions last night expressed horror over the guidance. Harry Cayton, chief executive of the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, which oversees
Britain's nine health regulators, said: My concern is that judgements are being made not on the basis of facts but on opinion and third party perceptions.
Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, said: This Government is creating a
society where everyone is treated as guilty unless they are proved to be innocent. These changes contravene any principles of natural justice and will destroy the lives of decent innocent people. Gordon Brown is creating Government by thought police
Adrian McAllister chief executive of ISA said no one would be barred purely on the basis of their lifestyle or attitude, given that all referrals had to identify either harm done, or a future risk of harm . He said: One of the
understandable concerns we have heard from people is that they could be barred for private interests like pornography, or liking a drink. That isn't the case. We only look at these risk factors if relevant conduct [actual harm] or a risk of harm has been
The organisation was unable to explain the reasoning behind its instruction to staff that definite concerns in two areas should be sufficient to be minded to bar staff. It would only say that the protocol follows advice from
a forensic psychologist.
A school turned a father away from his son's first sports day after banning parents who have not been checked by police from mixing with pupils.
The taxi driver had gone to watch his son, a year seven pupil, compete in sprints and egg-and-spoon
But teachers refused to let him spectate because they did not believe he had undergone checks by the Criminal Records Bureau.
De Lisle Catholic Science school in Loughborough has a policy which says that any parent who has not passed
the checks is banned from attending events in which pupils take part.
The father told a Talksport radio programme: I couldn't believe it when they told me I wasn't allowed in because I didn't have the relevant CRB checks. I'd called the school
that morning to ask if it would be OK if I came along and they said it would be no problem. But when I got to the school the assistant head teacher said that as I hadn't had a CRB check then I couldn't watch.
I'm a taxi driver and I have to
have regular CRB checks as part of my licence. I've never had any trouble.
What is the world coming to when parents can't watch their own kids take part in what is a big day in their young lives? I'm all for protecting kids, but surely
there has to be a place for common sense.
The school said in a statement: We fully appreciate that one parent was upset by our policy regarding the attendance of parents at sports days.
A spokesman for Leicestershire County
Council told Talksport: Parents should have access to school activities. We certainly do not issue any guidance to say parents should have a CRB check to attend school sports days. The day-to-day running of the school is a matter for the school and
its governors, but we are contacting the school to discuss their policy with them.
CRB vetting? Best thing that ever happened to this country
Last January, Annabel Hayter, chairwoman of Gloucester Cathedral Flower Guild, received an email saying that she and her 60 fellow flower arrangers would have to undergo a CRB check. CRB stands for Criminal Records Bureau, and a
CRB check is a time-consuming, sometimes expensive, pretty much always pointless vetting procedure that you must go through if you work with children or vulnerable adults .
The cathedral authorities expected no
resistance. Though the increasing demand for ever tighter safety regulation has become one of the biggest blights on Britain today, we are all strangely supine: frightened not to comply. Not so Annabel Hayter. I am not going to do it, she said.
And her act of rebellion sparked a mini-revolution among the other cathedral flower ladies.
Growing numbers of people are being turned down for jobs and university places because they accepted police cautions for minor offences. Cautions showed up on 153,000 Criminal Records Bureau checks last year.