New vetting procedures may follow Bichard inquiry recmmendations.

    A central register for all people working with children is being
    “urgently” considered by the government, following the publication
    this week of the Bichard Inquiry report into the failures that led
    to Ian Huntley’s appointment as a school caretaker.

    Home secretary David Blunkett said the recommendation, which could
    mean that those working with children would be given a licence or
    card to prove they had been vetted, would be looked at
    immediately.

    Speaking at the launch of his report, Sir Michael said he had
    discovered “errors, omissions, failures and shortcomings which were
    deeply shocking”.

    Blunkett has ordered the suspension of the chief constable of
    Humberside police, David Westwood. Next month, a serious case
    review into North East Lincolnshire Council’s handling of
    allegations involving Huntley will be published.

    Blunkett ordered the inquiry in December 2003 after it emerged that
    Huntley, who was convicted of the murders of Holly Wells and
    Jessica Chapman, had nine sexual allegations against him that were
    not picked up in the vetting process.

    Weaknesses in the handling of information by Humberside police
    meant Bichard could not be confident that it was Huntley alone who
    had “slipped through the net”.

    The report recommends that guidance should be produced to help
    social services departments decide when not to pass on cases of
    underage sex to the police. But it adds that the majority of cases
    should be passed to the police and, where they are not, details
    should be recorded on a database.

    Inspections by the Commission for Social Care Inspection should
    include an analysis of a random sample of cases that were not
    passed to the police so as to check departments are making
    decisions properly.

    It follows concerns raised in the report that “underage sex may not
    be taken sufficiently seriously by the police or social services
    generally”.

    Measures to improve the vetting of job applicants in schools are
    also included and all staff will be given an enhanced check by the
    Criminal Records Bureau.

    Interview panels should include at least one person who has had
    child protection training.

    Bichard will reconvene the inquiry in six months to review progress
    on the recommendations.

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