Government’s plan for protecting children will meet Bichard’s concerns

The government has insisted that the proposed new scheme for
preventing unsuitable people from working with children will be
more than just a register of banned individuals, writes
Lauren Revans.

Following last year’s inquiry into how Ian Huntley got his
job as a school caretaker, Sir Michael Bichard recommended the
introduction of a system identifying all those suitable to work
with children.

Bichard’s concerns will be

But the government announced earlier this month that a licensing
or card scheme would be unworkable and unaffordable due to the
sheer scale and complexity of the workforce.

However, speaking at Community Care Live Children and
Families last night, director of the safe-guarding children group
Althea Efunshile insisted the government’s proposed
alternative system for preventing those who are known to be
unsuitable getting access to children or vulnerable adults through
their work would be “comprehensive” and meet all of
Bichard’s concerns.

Key features of the new scheme, which is still under
development, include suitability judgements made prior to
employment, immediate notifications of new offences and
allegations, and immediate updates to employers of any change in
the barred status of an individual.

Significantly, the scope of the scheme would also be extended to
cover categories previously exempt, such as those employed directly
by parents or personal employers. These would include nannies and
carers employed under the direct payments scheme.

Efunshile told the conference that the government hoped a bill
to take forward the changes would be ready by November 2005, and
that the whole scheme would be in place by early 2007.

“The changes that Bichard is recommending will require
primary legislation and a significant commitment of public
resources to deliver,” she said. “We have to make sure
that we get it right and that will take time as well as


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