Concerns over ‘label for life’ spark rethink over schedule one offences

Schedule one offences against children might be revised after
the government said that convictions for minor incidents such as
childhood fights could stigmatise people for life.

As part of a review started last year, the Department for
Education and Skills last month asked agencies to stop using the
term “schedule one offender” when referring to people convicted of
offences against children, irrespective of the crime’s severity.
The DfES said people should be labelled according to their “risk to

The term referred originally to offences in schedule one of the
Children and Young Persons Act 1933, but has come to be used as a
catch-all term for offences against children and a trigger for a
social services risk assessment.

Pauline Batstone, chair of the Association of Youth Offending
Team Managers, called on the government to amend or repeal the
schedule, which the review is considering.

She said the schedule one label could prevent people working
with children if they had been convicted of a minor offence against
a child when young and posed no risk now.

In a letter to social services departments, the DfES
acknowledges this concern, saying that schedule one is a “label
that lasts for life with no review procedure”.

It adds that the term “takes no consideration of the
circumstances of the offence, or any assessment of ongoing risk”,
is “ill-defined” and subject to conflicting interpretations.

It recommends that agencies should change their procedures, and
that all available information, not just history of offending,
should be used in deciding whether a person poses a risk to

The government also sent councils a list of offences against
children introduced over the years, but emphasised these should not
be used as a “trigger to denote risk”.

The offences range from assault or battery, wounding with intent
and assault occasioning actual bodily harm, to numerous sexual
crimes introduced under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The list
includes current and repealed offences to take account of people
convicted of offences no longer on the statute books.

The government added that the list of crimes was not exhaustive
and that, in the case of some of the offences, the risk to children
would apply only in certain circumstances.


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