Hodge backtracks on Bichard register

Children’s minister Margaret Hodge hinted this week that the
government will abandon plans to register the entire children’s
workforce, a key recommendation of Sir Michael Bichard’s

She told a conference in London organised by Community
and the Association of Directors of Social Services that
a central register for the estimated 2.4 million people working
with children was a “huge undertaking” with massive “resource and
practical issues”.

In his report into the failures that led to Ian Huntley’s
appointment as a school caretaker, published in June, Bichard
recommended that all people working with children should apply to a
registering company who would vet them before they applied for a

Workers would then carry a photocard or licence showing they had
been cleared as fit to work with children (news, page 6, 24

But Hodge said the government was now considering a registration
scheme that would instead list those people who were unsuitable to
work with children.

It is uncertain how such a register would work with the existing
List 99 for education professionals and the Protection of Children
Act List, both of which are already held by the Department for
Education and Skills.

Earlier, policy chief at the Children and Family Court Advisory and
Support Service Rory Worthington said there were a number of
potential problems connected to a registration scheme, including
cost. “My main concern is that it is likely to be the applicant who
pays. A lot of the people it will cover are in low-paid jobs and it
could be a disincentive.”

Bichard will reconvene his inquiry in January to review what work
has been carried out.

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