New child protection bill in Scotland is welcomed

The charity Children First has welcomed a new child protection
bill, which will close a loophole that previously allowed
unsuitable people to work with children, writes Nicola

The Protection of Children (Scotland) Bill will
create a list of persons unsuitable to work with children, which
nurseries, schools and youth organisations will have to check
before employing anyone.

Employers will have to place a person on the list if they are
sacked or they moved because of their behaviour towards children,
regardless of whether they are subsequently convicted of any crime.
It will be an offence for anyone on the list to apply for a job
involving contact with children, and an offence for an organisation
not to check the list before employing someone. 

Margaret Mackay, chief Executive of Children First, said:
“Safeguarding our children must be our highest priority. We all
know how difficult it can be in cases where children are sexually
abused because there is rarely corroboration and because children
find it hard to speak out.

“In any situation where the rights of adults and the protection
of children are in the balance, the rights of children must come

But the charity is unhappy with plans to give suspected
paedophiles the same right to anonymity as their alleged victims
because changing the law could send out the wrong message to young

Mackay said it was important – from the child’s point of view –
to remove the secrecy surrounding the experience.

The bill comes just months ahead of the expected recommendations
of the child protection review, set up in the wake of the death of
three-year-old Kennedy McFarlane, who was murdered by her mother’s
boyfriend Thomas Duncan in May 2000.

An independent inquiry into Kennedy’s death by consultant
paediatrician Dr Helen Hammond, published last year found that the
girl’s life could have been saved if Dumfries and Galloway council
had implemented its child protection procedures.

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