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    How to further reduce volunteering

    by Rumbold
    11th September, 2009 at 3:49 pm    

    People volunteering to help out with others is one of the hallmarks of civil society. It represents a way of thinking that says ‘even if I don’t have to help out I want to help out’. For many clubs and organisations, particularly those who help the less well off, it is volunteers that allow those groups to operate. Therefore, a government that cared about civil society would do all it could to encourage volunteering.

    Yet the government has just announced plans to extend the vetting of volunteers further, via a new system known as the Independent Safeguarding Authority. Even those who have already been checked by the Criminal Records Bureau will need the new check.

    In part this is a job creation scheme, as it is one of those agencies that once set up is very difficult to get rid of (no politician wants to abolish it, then have something happen to a child and be blamed for abolishing the agency that would have protected the child). The Daily Mail and Sun share the blame with the government for things like this, as they whip up the hysteria which leads to such demands. Yet it is also an example of the government’s desire to control civil society, as it is independent from the state, and therefore suspect.

                  Post to del.icio.us

    Filed in: Civil liberties

    10 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. Britblog roundup No 239 - Philobiblon

      [...] One of the big issues of the week was the “safeguarding” provisions that could see up to 11 million people facing extended checks before they can have any dealings with children - will there be anyone left to work with children, Sara asks on Always Win When You are Singing. Rumbold on Pickled Politics sees it as a way for government to further control civil society. [...]

    1. Drake Van Patten — on 11th September, 2009 at 4:23 pm  

      I completely agree, it gets me really very annoyed that people look astounded when I hold a door open for them.
      It may seem like a off-kilter example but I feel this type of attitude is an endemic view of charity.
      It is seen as weird to include anything into your life apart from self gain.
      I think the Tabloids have some blame to bare but this thinking started much earlier with social workers and the growing mistrust surrounding them lead to more and more sanctions on them which spread through into other sectors.

    2. Tom (iow) — on 11th September, 2009 at 4:52 pm  

      I don’t know why the Mail etc. are complaining; this is what they asked for. They pulled the panic alarm over Huntley and their (reactionary) recommendations have been implemented.

      What really worries me is how many people will now have to be dismissed, and left unable to work again, over unsubstantiated allegations in their past. In Huntley’s case the allegations happened to turn out to be true, but that will not always be the case.

      And the real elephant in the room is that Huntley did not gain access to his victims via his job, it was through knowing Carr, who was a teaching assistant, and his own job as caretaker was incidental.

    3. douglas clark — on 11th September, 2009 at 5:08 pm  


      Absolutely right. A friend of mine described it as a ratchet effect. Which, it seems to me to be exactly correct.

    4. Shatterface — on 11th September, 2009 at 6:03 pm  

      The government regards everyone as automatically guilty of SOMETHING unless they can prove otherwise.

      We live in sick times when any parent who wants to help out is treated as a potential paedophile; when cameras are banned from school plays for the same reason; and god help those who want to educate their children at home.

    5. Kulvinder — on 12th September, 2009 at 4:20 pm  

      Whats even better is this system adds to the crb; essentially all non-conviction evidence is assessed by the isa as part of their ‘continued monitoring’

      This is the country we now live in.

      Its worth bearing in mind that simply being arrested as part of an investigation - im not talking about a conviction, a caution or even being charged, but merely being arrested will to all intents and purposes end up with you being treated as if you had actually comitted a crime. The affects on your employment opportunities will be the same as if you were convicted.

      For all the bile rightfully vented towards the labour party for advocating such injustice; its worth bearing in mind that the tory party has not been upfront in what exactly it would do to remedy the situation, even if they came to power next year nothing would change.

      Neither has the SNP, for all its declerations of a fair society done anything to prevent scotland adopting the same system.

      Every political party wants it.

      You are one arrest. Just one arrest, from losing everything.

    6. ukliberty — on 13th September, 2009 at 6:58 pm  

      It’s not just arrests, it goes beyond those to mere allegations (so called ‘soft’ intelligence).

      As a large proportion of abused children are abused by family members, presumably would-be parents and their families will be checked against these records too?

    7. Kulvinder — on 14th September, 2009 at 11:42 am  

      Theres another point raised in Charlotte Gore’s post; in english law the verdict of a jury determines the facts of a case. If after all the evidence has been presented and after being properly directed the jury find you not guilty; the fact is (in a proper legal sense) you are not guilty.

      The ISA however will further interpret the trial, irrespective of the findings of the jury, and come to their own conclusion.

      An unelected quango will override one of the fundamental principles of justice.

    8. Kulvinder — on 14th September, 2009 at 11:48 am  

      nb you can only appeal their decision based on a matter of fact or a matter of law.

      In classic doublespeak they decide the former (irrespective of the jury) and its virtually impossible to appeal on the latter.

    9. ukliberty — on 14th September, 2009 at 3:54 pm  

      In answer to my own query, interviews on a recent Today programme confirmed that private arrangements between, say, one family and another will not be subject to these checks, but an arrangement between, say, a family and a junior football club will be.

      I think we can reasonably assume that the measures are about political expediency not evidence-based policy, unless they can show us that there is an insignificant risk of a child being abused in the former arrangement and a significant risk of the child being abused in the latter arrangement.

      The Soham excuse is just that, an excuse; Huntley would not have been prevented from engaging with the two girls if these arrangements had been in place, as he knew them through his girlfriend who was a teacher at their school, not through his own job as a school caretaker, or giving them lifts to clubs etc.

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