Sixty second interview with Michael Bichard

Sixty Second Interview with Michael Bichard

By Clare Jerrom

Bichard, Michael  
Sir Michael Bichard

Last week, Michael Bichard reported on the government’s progress against his report’s recommendations which were published last June.

Given the concerns you raised this week, do you think your recommendation of having a national IT intelligence system and a registration scheme barring those who should not work with children will be in place by 2007?

It needs to be in place; it should be in place; it’s too early to say that it will be in place.

Given we already have List 99 and the Protection of Children Act list – both of which are names of adults banned from working with children – do you think what has been proposed will be as effective as your original idea of having a list of people who are safe to work with children?

Yes, it will provide an integrated constantly updated list.

The government’s reason for scrapping plans to introduce a registration scheme for those working with children was that it would be “prohibitively costly and impractical to implement”. Do you think that is a convincing argument?

There is little difference between my proposed registrations scheme and the barring scheme now proposed

It has been strongly hinted that the CRB may take responsibility for maintaining the registration scheme for people who are unsuitable for work with children. Given the CRB’s disastrous track record, do you believe they should be given an extended contract?

The decision has not been taken but CRB’s recent record is not in my view disastrous.

During the inquiry you chaired, Maureen Cooper of the Education personnel management said that thousands of people would be able to cheat the CRB vetting process because of shortcomings in the checking information as the process relied on the honesty of the individual when filling out the five-year history. Do you feel CRB’s verification of details supplied by applicants is now robust enough?

It we will be for the RBs to ensure that the five-year history is accurate.  You can never be entirely certain but we can do better.

Why has the government’s submission of the detailed business case for the IT system been delayed from March to September and how do you feel about this?

A new Programme Director has been appointed.  It is claimed that the delay will not affect delivery.  Any delay worries me.

At the National Social Services Conference in Newcastle last year you said anyone could find themselves giving evidence to an inquiry. Do you think there will be more and more inquiries of this nature in the future?

Yes – because we have to learn from serious mistakes and Inquiries can enable us to do that.

At the education conference in Gateshead last year you also said that while social services had taken positive action to prevent unsuitable people gaining jobs working with children but that teachers had not made the same progress. Do you think this is still the case?

Steps are now being taken and I hope the situation will have improved by the end of this year.

You said at the time that online child protection training was being drawn up for teachers who conduct interviews. Is that adequate?

No.  I have said that.

Do you think agencies are doing enough to take allegation of underage sex seriously enough?

I think that this is happening – my proposals are intended to ensure we know that.

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