Thursday, February 16, 2012

CRB crime checks spiral out of control as 940,000 people who do community volunteering get stung with ‘prove you’re not a paedo’ tax

Dear All

ID Cards were condemned by many people as an infringement of their civil rights; the UK Government wanted a database on everyone.

Legalised spying!

The public quite rightly were up in arms and the project in its current form was shelved.

Then a new version of surveillance was used to collect information, people who freely give up their spare time, nearly a million people who volunteered to help in schools or at sport and charity events last year were subjected to official checks on their backgrounds.

So, for volunteering to help others, the Government introduced ‘prove you’re not a paedophile tax.’

The ‘tax’ is collected by using Criminal Records Bureau checks, it’s a stealth tax.

And the ‘good’ thing about this tax is that once you have been CRB checked, they can milk you again in the future.

Even slaves didn’t pay to work for free.

Altogether there were just over four million Criminal Records Bureau checks; according to anti-red tape campaigners cost £45million over the past year.

So, who gets checked?

People in local authorities, staff and volunteers at community groups, such as local football clubs and Scout and Guide troops!

In future, you might find that everyone who applies for any job will be CRB checked, thus creating the ID card database.

Six million CRB checks have been carried out by local authorities in the past six years, and included those who supervise cycle rides, school reading volunteers, a school disco helper and even a Father Christmas.

If you are employed at the council then council chiefs had CRB searches carried out on tree surgeons, smoking cessation officers, beach cleaners, park rangers, zumba instructors, swimming pool caretakers, and even ice cream and burger van operators.

CRB checks were ramped up in large numbers when they were introduced in the wake of the Soham murders.

But the truth is that like any system, there are gaps, nothing is foolproof.

After a public outcry last summer, Home Secretary Theresa May promised that CRB checks would be ‘scaled back to common sense levels.’

She described the scheme as ‘draconian’ and could deter genuine volunteers, she is right, leading authors who read their work in schools were targeted which caused an outcry.

The Manifesto Club, an anti-red tape pressure group, claimed in its report published yesterday that in the past year alone councils ordered more than 940,000 CRB checks.

Director Josie Appleton said:

“There is no good reason why parent volunteers in schools should be CRB checked. This is a tax on goodwill.”

She added:

“It is surprising that councils can find the money to CRB check tree surgeons and leisure centre managers. They should cut these checks rather than front line services. If the Government is serious about scaling back vetting, it should introduce procedures for investigating over-checking authorities, and penalties for unnecessary checks.”

Their report also highlights that many checks could be illegal, made in breach of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 which states that former lawbreakers should be allowed to keep their offences secret after a period of years has passed.

In this country there is a tendency to use a tragic event as a catalyst for surveillance on the entire population.

This has also been seen in America were recently politicians were trying to pass a bill so that internet service providers would have to keep records of which websites their customers visited again using children as an excuse.

We are supposed to be living in a ‘free society’ but the truth is we aren’t, we are living in an illiberal fascist environment where government and politicians feel our moves and actions should be tracked but at the same time, they wish to distance themselves from the same legalisation.

When was the last time anyone publicly asked a politician have they been CRB checked as they pop in and out of schools?

Yes, child protection is a priority but it isn’t a cover to stealth tax and snoop on them.

Balance in such matters is essential, at present warp judgment and overkill is the order of the day.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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