Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Parents helping in school to be spared criminal checks    
By: Jason Lewis

PARENTS will no longer need criminal record checks to help at their children's schools - as the Home Secretary dismantles Labour's health and safety culture.

The Government will also place greater restrictions on when unsubstantiated allegations and hearsay held on police files should be given to employers vetting prospective staff.

The moves are the intended outcome of a review of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) ordered by Home Secretary Theresa May, who is concerned about the 'overuse' of vetting and wants a commonsense approach.

Senior Home Office sources said Mrs May was 'irritated by the health and safety culture' inherited from Labour and had ordered a 'radical shake-up'. At present, parents who go into schools to help with reading or games lessons must have a CRB check. It is understood the review will do away with this requirement.

Those who have greater contact with children or vulnerable adults, such as teachers, Scout leaders, doctors and nurses, need an 'enhanced' check.

This includes 'soft' information including when someone is questioned but not charged or faces unsubstantiated claims discounted by officers.

The review will examine the need to release this 'soft' information amid claims that innocent people are denied jobs based on hearsay.

Vetting came under fire last year after two women police officers were banned from looking after each other's children without CRB checks.

Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone said there had been unintended consequences of tightening up checks legislation.

'It has resulted in the number of volunteers stepping forward dropping,' she said. 'Too many hoops to jump through just to help with reading in school.'

Last night the Home Office confirmed the intention was to 'bring the criminal records regime back to commonsense levels'. There will be further announcements in the near future, it said.