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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