Saturday, 31 October 2009

Guilty even when proven innocent

We are living in a time when it will soon be almost impossible to live down a false or unproven allegation and totally impossible to 'turn over a new leaf.'

Our very expensive new Supreme Court is legally sitting on the fence regarding the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) database, responsible for purging those it deems unsuitable to work with children and vulnerable adults, and which will build on the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) system. In a recent case, it ruled that the police had been right to disclose, via an enhanced CRB check, that a dinner lady at a nursery had been accused of neglecting her teenage child who was truanting, shoplifting etc., because it was directly relevant to her work; as a result she was promptly sacked. The court added that, in future: "the police must give due weight to the applicant's right to respect for her private life" and chief constables should allow individuals to make representations before making an enhanced CRB disclosure.

With eventually a minimum of 11 million people on the ISA database, do their Lordships really think that Chief Constables will be discussing the finer points of morality in such cases? This work is outsourced to a quango - the Criminal Records Bureau, staffed by civilians. The ISA is another quango staffed by civilians.

Confusingly, the Independent Safeguarding Authority is the new name for the Vetting and Barring Scheme and the Independent Barring Board.

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