The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you


Posted by The Futility Monster on September 16, 2009 @ 06:35

Well, I know it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, but I shouldn't admit to that or I'll be getting barred from working with children and vulnerable adults...

Well, I know it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, but I shouldn't admit to that or I'll be getting barred from working with children and vulnerable adults...

The government likes its three letter acronyms.

A few years ago, in response to the Bichard Inquiry, Labour decided to implement a brand new “vetting and barring” scheme.

As usual, it was a typical Whitehall reinvention of the wheel. The government already had its own vetting and barring scheme. It had existed for a long time in the guise of things like List 99, a central list of undesirable people that we didn’t want working with children, based on criminal records and intelligence.

But this was insufficient. The government decided it would be better farmed out to an “independent” agency.

The Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) was born.

Why a new agency? It has long been suspected that the real reason behind this outsourcing was so that the government could wash their hands of responsibility. The government’s calculation was that, one day, an abuse would again occur involving a person not on List 99 – such as what happened with Ian Huntley. Too many questions were already being asked as to why Huntley slipped through the net, some of them rather uncomfortable (e.g. the case of Kim Howells clearing a registered sex offender for a PE teacher’s job). So taking these kind of decisions out of the hands of politicians would, indeed, be politically desirable.

The problem here is that many years earlier, the government created an agency to collate and try to ensure that the system was much tighter. It was called the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).  Charged with issuing Disclosures on people, based upon nationwide police criminal records checks and intelligence, it is, ostensibly, a neutral organisation which provides employers with information and allows them to take the final decision based on what they receive back from the check.

While they are subtly different – ISA takes decisions on people’s suitability, but the CRB only provides the information required for the decision – they were still overlapping sufficiently that, at first, the CRB were told to prepare to take on the new vetting and barring scheme. They did so, spending money and time in the process. After all, they were ideally placed to deal with this new function in-house. They

Then the government pulled the plug and decided that a new layer of bureaucracy was exactly what the country needed.

This woeful tale is yet another example of the failure of modern politics.

Firstly, the  creation of new bureaucracy when the existing system could be adapted is a ridiculous waste of time, money, will cause needless duplication of resources and will doubtless result in poor communication between the ISA and the CRB.

Secondly, the propensity of the modern politician to farm decisions out to quangos and other bodies (e.g. strategic health authorities, foundation hospitals, trust schools, academies…) means a lack of ministerial responsibility and accountability.

And thirdly, on principle, as we have seen in the news lately, the whole thing is going to lead to a further gross infringement on liberty and a redefinition of the fundamental relationship between adults and children in society.

Who knows where that will lead.


2 Responses to “The ISA To My CRB”

  1. Bum, James Bum said

    I work for an err… agency outside the remit of anything British, if we exclude having by hotel room turned over by Brit spooks.

    Until the FBI, and the internet, the Brits only had to worry about the Dominions kicking up a fuss re being saturated by perverts not quite wild enough for the asylum.

    List 99, in the 1920s, fixed that.

    The IS? One of the most monolithic capers outside of the former Soviet bloc,

    and sex offenders compete for jobs on the same basis as everybody else, and fancy a surprise? They are still getting them.

    The surprise if there was one, is that a nu-labor Brit quango, are no more morally inhibited from allowing perverts and predators access to children, than a nu-labor minister!

    Brit teachers, are often filth, is the short summary.

  2. […] the past I’ve strongly challenged the idea that what this country needs to protect its children is a bloody great database […]

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