Ditched vetting scheme 'gave a boost to child safety'

A controversial vetting system recently halted by the Government was an "entirely sensible measure" and did not deter volunteers from coming forward, a charity said yesterday.

The Churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) said the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) had been warmly welcomed by church leaders, workers and volunteers.

However, anti-regulation campaign group the Manifesto Club, which has been campaigning against the vetting database, said the scheme was costly and would have a negative effect on child safety.

Earlier this month Home Secretary Theresa May halted the vetting system for people working with children and vulnerable adults brought in by the Labour government. She said it was time to return to a more "common sense" approach which did not risk alienating volunteers doing valuable work.

The announcement came a month before all newcomers to regulated posts could have registered with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) before the scheme became mandatory in November.

David Pearson, executive director of CCPAS, said: "Over last few months we, in conjunction with the Government's VBS implementation team, have presented our roadshow showing how the VBS will operate to over 5,000 people up and down the country. Not only has there been absolutely no opposition whatsoever to the scheme, but it has instead been warmly welcomed by church leaders, workers and volunteers everywhere it has been.

"Contrary to the scaremongering allegations by a small number of well-organised civil liberty groups pushing their own political agenda, the VBS is not a bureaucrats' charter."

Mr Pearson said complying with the scheme required ticking two boxes on a Criminal Records Bureau form.

He added: "It is instead an entirely sensible measure, without which child protection in the UK will undoubtedly be severely compromised.

"The unpleasant, triumphalist rhetoric we are hearing from these groups is therefore badly misplaced."

The charity said that each year it identified several hundred potentially dangerous individuals and ensured they were prevented from gaining access to children.

In a Manifesto Club report to be published today, experts argue that the vetting scheme was a "design disaster" which would, if anything, have a negative effect on child safety.

Sue White, social work professor and chair of the Association of Professors of Social Work, said: "In 26 years of experience, I have encountered not one child that the vetting and barring scheme would have saved from abuse."

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