Alarm raised over steep fall in people barred from working with children

'DEEPY TROUBLING': Yvette Cooper has raised the alarm over barring statistics

'DEEPY TROUBLING': Yvette Cooper has raised the alarm over barring statistics

First published in News
Last updated

A COLLAPSE in the number of people barred from working with children after rules were relaxed is described as “deeply troubling” today (Tuesday, June 24).

Labour will raise the alarm over a dramatic decline in actions taken by a North-East based vetting agency, set up to prevent a repeat of the Soham murders.

Official figures show the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) – at Morton Palms, Darlington – barred almost 14,000 people in 2011, after convictions or police intelligence.

But that figure plummeted to just 3,151 last year – a drop of 77 per cent in just two years.

Yvette Cooper, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said the steep drop was mainly the result of controversial changes, in 2012, which had scaled back automatic barring.

And she warned: “This massive drop in the number of people being barred from working with children - at the same time as reported child sex offences are rising - is deeply troubling.

“Theresa May [the Home Secretary] was warned repeatedly that the new legislation left major loopholes in the system. This evidence shows those warnings were right.”

Labour said the figures showed big falls in both types of barring:

* After sexual offences were committed against children – from 12,360 in 2011 to 5,758 in 2012 and to 2,800 in 2013.

* As a result of intelligence sharing - from 1,542 in 2011 to 471 in 2012 and to 351 in 2013.

Ms Cooper said the first fall followed the decision to automatically bar only people employed in a school or nursery, or with overall responsibility in a youth group or sports club.

That meant volunteers in sport, reading or drama, who are supervised, can escape action by the DBS - even if they have convictions.

Furthermore, most offenders are not added to the barred list until after they have had a chance to make representations – instead of being required to appeal afterwards.

However, there was also a big drop in barrings after intelligence sharing which, Ms Cooper said, suggested fewer investigations by the DBS and local police forces.

She added: “We need some very rapid answers from the Home Office about why these figures have dropped so much and whether they believe the child protection system is strong enough.”

The Northern Echo asked the Home Office for a response to the statistics, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, but none was provided.

In December 2011, the proposed changes came under fire from Lord Bichard, who led the inquiry into the 2002 Soham murders of ten-year-olds Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, by Ian Huntley.

The former top civil servant suggested supervision of “extremely manipulative” people would fail to prevent “the likes of Ian Huntley from perpetrating their evil”.

However, Ms May argued for putting a greater burden of responsibility on employers to decide whether somebody should be able to work with children.

Comments (6)

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8:58am Tue 24 Jun 14

thetruthyoucanthandlethetruth says...

There is mass hysteria and paranoia in our society today. Fueled by people like Yvette Cooper.

Everyone's a suspect!
There is mass hysteria and paranoia in our society today. Fueled by people like Yvette Cooper. Everyone's a suspect! thetruthyoucanthandlethetruth
  • Score: 8

9:30am Tue 24 Jun 14

bambara says...

I would rather have a bit more suspicion and a lot less child abuse than the reverse case that we had in the 70's and 80's.
Priests, celebrities, care home workers, politicians, all those people who got away with abusing kids for years.
With the sheer number of incidents that have come out over the last few years I would go with paranoia over complacency.
I would rather have a bit more suspicion and a lot less child abuse than the reverse case that we had in the 70's and 80's. Priests, celebrities, care home workers, politicians, all those people who got away with abusing kids for years. With the sheer number of incidents that have come out over the last few years I would go with paranoia over complacency. bambara
  • Score: 6

9:56am Tue 24 Jun 14

oneofthemasses says...

The relaxing of the regulations were made in preparation to privatise the child protection services, making the whole prospect of running them more appealing as the system would be easier and therefore the companies involved (G4S, Securicare) would make more profit.

Now that the idea to privatise has been scrapped look out for more stories like this which will probably try to scapegoat the workers rather than the policy makers as usual
The relaxing of the regulations were made in preparation to privatise the child protection services, making the whole prospect of running them more appealing as the system would be easier and therefore the companies involved (G4S, Securicare) would make more profit. Now that the idea to privatise has been scrapped look out for more stories like this which will probably try to scapegoat the workers rather than the policy makers as usual oneofthemasses
  • Score: 3

10:42am Tue 24 Jun 14

lfp says...

I worked in a school as a cleaner recently no one checked if I had a DBS. The school was in Durham.
I worked in a school as a cleaner recently no one checked if I had a DBS. The school was in Durham. lfp
  • Score: 4

2:39pm Tue 24 Jun 14

thetruthyoucanthandlethetruth says...

bambara wrote:
I would rather have a bit more suspicion and a lot less child abuse than the reverse case that we had in the 70's and 80's.
Priests, celebrities, care home workers, politicians, all those people who got away with abusing kids for years.
With the sheer number of incidents that have come out over the last few years I would go with paranoia over complacency.
I'm not suggesting we shouldn't be careful. But I totally disagree with the concept of 'having a bit more suspicion'!...That's a very slippery slope.

There needs to be balance and I think we've gone way over the top these days. We've got to the point of having so much suspicion that people will walk on by instead of helping others - especially children in need.
[quote][p][bold]bambara[/bold] wrote: I would rather have a bit more suspicion and a lot less child abuse than the reverse case that we had in the 70's and 80's. Priests, celebrities, care home workers, politicians, all those people who got away with abusing kids for years. With the sheer number of incidents that have come out over the last few years I would go with paranoia over complacency.[/p][/quote]I'm not suggesting we shouldn't be careful. But I totally disagree with the concept of 'having a bit more suspicion'!...That's a very slippery slope. There needs to be balance and I think we've gone way over the top these days. We've got to the point of having so much suspicion that people will walk on by instead of helping others - especially children in need. thetruthyoucanthandlethetruth
  • Score: 3

4:51pm Wed 25 Jun 14

pixie4612 says...

You can't be too careful where children are concerned. The steep drop is worrying and people shouldn't slip through the net. It shouldn't matter if you are working one to one with children or in the background, if you are a potential risk then you shouldn't be paid to form a bond with a child that could make it easy for you to groom.
You can't be too careful where children are concerned. The steep drop is worrying and people shouldn't slip through the net. It shouldn't matter if you are working one to one with children or in the background, if you are a potential risk then you shouldn't be paid to form a bond with a child that could make it easy for you to groom. pixie4612
  • Score: 0

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