Against the Vetting Database

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We believe that the Vetting Database is a misguided response to a small number of tragic, but fortunately rare, incidents involving the abuse of children. Over a third of the adult working population those who come into contact with children through their work or volunteering - will be subject to continuous criminal records vetting. This could include babysitters and private tutors, as well as those who merely have access to information about children. The massive expansion of vetting is driven by suspicion and paranoia. The Criminal Records Bureau has already carried out millions of checks since 2002, and it is now common practice to vet anybody from 16-year-olds teaching younger kids to read, to parents helping out in school, to the visitors to foster carers homes.

Such child protection procedures do little to protect children from the small number of individuals who would do them harm. Instead, they damage adult-child relations and undermine the capacity of adults to contribute to childrens welfare. Vetting calls into question the informal ways adults in a community collaborate in rearing children: from the local enthusiast running a football team, to the volunteer who helps out at school. Adults become more concerned with covering their backs than passing on their insights to the next generation. Children become a no-go area: local sports teams and youth groups are struggling to find volunteers; some teachers are scared to put a plaster on a childs knee; and there are worrying cases of adults passing by injured or endangered children. We call for a more rational approach to adult-child interactions, and for the Vetting Database to be urgently reconsidered.