according to new proposals outlined today by a cross government
A report by the Interdepartmental Working Group on Preventing
- identify and ban unsuitable people from working with children
- create a new criminal offence which the 'unsuitable person' would
commit if they worked with children
- provide a new definition of 'working with children'
- create a 'one stop shop', the Criminal Records Bureau, to provide
access to information on people deemed unsuitable to work with
children under the new scheme. This formed part of the Protection
of Children Act 1999, which also gives the Secretary of State
powers to ban unsuitable people from working with children in the
health and social care fields
The report provides detail for how the scheme would operate.
Implementing the measures will need primary legislation.
Home secretary Jack Straw said:
'This new scheme would represent a significant step forward in
protecting children from potential abuse, and the close co-operation
of the numerous departments involved in drawing up the plans is to be
'Such moves should be welcomed by those agencies, organisations, and
educational groups who work closely with children. This new system
would be an important child protection measure that would help
safeguard the most vulnerable people in our society.
'But it must not be seen in isolation. It forms one of a programme of
measures to protect children. Moreover it is no substitute for proper
recruitment processes and continued vigilance on the part of all
organisations which work with children.
'My colleagues at the department of health and the department for
education and employment have been integral in developing the details
of the scheme.'
'[The government accepts these recommendations and intends to bring
forward legislation in due course to implement them.']
Health secretary Frank Dobson said:
'Existing laws and practice fail top prevent children being abused.
That is why we have set about changing both. We have also recognised
that the security we wish to provide for all children cannot be
delivered by just one government department.
'So we have been working together to establish a fully integrated
system for identifying people unsuitable to work with children and to
stop them from doing so.
Education minister Estelle Morris backs the scheme:
'I welcome these proposals. The measures build on existing systems
for protecting children from unsuitable people, like my Departments
'List 99', and will provide an important new safeguard.
1. The group was set up in July last year to consider additional
measures to prevent those who are unsuitable from working with
children. It had three original aims:
- to devise a scheme for preventing unsuitable people from working
- to look at abuse of trust
- to extend this work to vulnerable adults
2. The first of these aims are presented in the report published on
25 January 1999 and in the further details announced today. The
group's work on abuse of trust formed the basis for the provisions
of a new offence contained in the Sexual Offences (Amendment)
Bill. Measures to protect vulnerable adults are under
3. Following their initial report in January on the main principles
of a scheme to protect children, the group was asked to work up
full details of the scheme which are published in the report
today. The Protection of Children Act 1999 incorporates the
group's proposals for the creation of a 'one stop shop' by using
the Criminal Records Bureau as a central access point for checking
the records of people working with children.
4. A summary of the group's detailed proposals is attached.
INTERDEPARTMENTAL WORKING GROUP ON PREVENTING UNSUITABLE PEOPLE
FROM WORKING WITH CHILDREN AND ABUSE OF TRUST
The main report from the working group was placed in the House
Libraries on 25 January 1999. The working group was asked to work up
the details of the scheme. The following summary sets out its
One part of the working group's proposals has already been acted on.
This is their recommendation for a central access point for
information about those banned from working with children. This is
contained in the Protection of Children Act. The central access point
will be the Criminal Records Bureau. The Protection of Children Act
also provides the Secretary of State with powers to ban unsuitable
people from working with children in the health and social care
fields. Statutory powers for the Secretary of State to ban unsuitable
people from working in the education field already exist.
The detailed proposals set out in the summary concern the banning of
those convicted of serious criminal offences against children under
18 from working with children; the creation of a new criminal offence
to support the ban whether the individual has been banned by the
Secretary of State or a judge; and(Exceptions)
D. Information on those banned will be made available when
applications are made for criminal record and enhanced criminal
record certificates from the Criminal Records Bureau. The
information will form part of the certificate.
E. The aim is for similar schemes to be put in place for Scotland and
N.Ireland, with access to all information on those banned in each
country to be available in all three and with reciprocal bans in
A. Identification of those unsuitable
1. Proposals for identifying and banning unsuitable people from
working with children in the health and social care areas are in
the Protection of Children Act. This will give the Secretary of
State power to ban people from working with children in services
within these areas regulated in some way following dismissal or
similar sanction by their employer and after due process including
an appeal. Other organisations may also submit cases to the
Secretary of State for consideration of persons working in child
care positions, but unlike the regulated area, neither the
submission of cases nor the observance of the ban will be
2. The Secretary of State already has similar powers to ban people
from working in schools and educational institutions. Under the
Protection of Children Act, these powers will be refined to
identify those who are unsuitable to work with children and will
become subject to an appeal.
3. The working group recommends a third group of people to be
identified as unsuitable to work with children.
These should be people who:
- are aged 18 or over; (there would be a discretion for a judge, in
exceptional circumstances only, to apply the ban to someone under
- are convicted of one of a list of criminal offences committed
against children under 18; and
- receive a prison sentence of 12 months or more.
The ban would be imposed by the judge as part of the sentence and
subject to appeal as such. There would be provision for the judge
not to impose a ban if he considered there were exceptional
reasons demonstrating the conviction did not indicate that the
individua reasonably be expected to have known that the work in question
constituted working with children. There would also be a defence
if the individual did not know, and could not reasonably be
expected to have known, he was banned from working with children.
7. The offence would be an arrestable offence, subject to a maximum
of 5 years imprisonment, unlimited fine, or both.
8. An employer or equivalent who took a person he knew was banned
from working with children for work he knew or could reasonably be
expected to have known fell under the definition of working with
children would be liable for an offence. The offence would again
be an arrestable offence, subject to a maximum of 5 years
imprisonment, unlimited fine, or both.
C. 'Working with children'
9. The definition of working with children would go beyond the
definitions for the specific health and social care and education
bans covered by the powers of the Secretary of State. It would
cover a wide range of work, including education, health and social
care, accommodation, leisure and sporting activities, religious
activities, and the criminal justice system.
10. It would apply regardless of the status of the work - it would
apply to paid and unpaid work in the public, private, voluntary
and volunteering sectors.
11. It would be based on the concept of 'role' or 'position', not
'office' or 'employment'.
12. It should focus on key providers of services, not ancillary staff
(except in particular settings such as schools and residential
children's homes where all staff would be covered).
13. Except in the specific settings, the contact between child and
adult should be a normal part of the job, not incidental or
14. Immediate supervisors, managers, and those in a position to take
decisions to appoint or dismiss people working with children would
be themselves classed as working with children. This would be
limited to those with direct 'control' at 'one level up' from
'front line' child workers. In addition some specified groups in
the education and social services field, such as school governors,
directors of social services and member information
on spent convictions and the ban if the work fell within the terms
of the new Exceptions Order. However agificates issued by
the Criminal Records Bureau because of the additional information
to go on them about the Secretary of State bans. However these
should be more than off-set by savings for organisations through
having a single access point for the information. It is difficult
to make a judgment over whether organisations are more likely to
make checks because of the integrated scheme than they would be
anyway under the proposals in Part V of the Police Act 1997. Any
such possible increase should be set against the fact that the new
criminal offence should make it less likely that someone banned
would apply for work with children. Hence organisations would be
less likely to go through a full recruitment process only to find
the preferred candidate was unsuitable as a result of his past
criminal record or misconduct in previous work with children.
* see LGCnet 29/7/99 'WELCOME FOR GOVERNMENT PROPOSALS TO BAN ABUSERS FROM CHILDCARE FOR LIFE'