Ice cream sellers may face crime records check

Ice cream sellers now face CRB checks
Ice cream sellers now face CRB checks
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A YORKSHIRE council wants to extend criminal records bureau checks to include ice cream sellers and people who carry out house to house and street collections.

East Riding Council is consulting on changes to its licensing policy, to include employees of street traders. It could also cover people collecting money for local sports clubs.

The authority was rapped for “contributing to the growing “guilty until proven innocent” culture” after the introduction of CRB checks, usually required for those working with children and vulnerable adults, on street traders in 2010, including snack bar owner Paul St Clair who was serving burgers, wraps and coffees to passing trade on a busy road in East Yorkshire.

Now it wants to demand CRB checks from employees in burger and ice cream vans as well as the consent holders themselves.

It claims introducing checks on house to house and street collections would “provide some protection from unscrupulous collectors and avoid oversaturation of collectors in some areas which have been historically often been the source of complaint.”

None of the authorities contacted by the Yorkshire Post yesterday, neighbouring Hull, York, Doncaster or Rotherham, carry out checks on street traders, and the policy proposal has been criticised for going too far.

Research by the Manifesto Club earlier this year revealed 490 councils in England and Wales spent more than £45m on almost a million CRB checks in 2010/11, including East Riding Council, which carried out 7,151 checks.

Director Josie Appleton said: “This is way overstepping Government guidance which is that it should be for those with a responsibility for and working very closely with children. The Government has said councils are going too far and it needs to be limited so it is wrong that this council is extending it at a time when the Government and the public are calling for it to be scaled back.”

East Riding Council described the checks as a “preventative measure” and said any changes would be consulted on with the voluntary sector before being implemented.

A report to its licensing committee said since the introduction of CRB checks there had been examples of applicants with recent convictions withdrawing applications. Convictions included violent assault, drug convictions and illegal possessions of weapons.

In 2010 police seized a burger van in Driffield which offered free pornographic DVDs to anyone who spent more than £5 on beer and burgers.

The council says making employees of street traders subject to the same basic check “safeguarded” children and vulnerable adults and “increased public confidence”.

But Godfrey Bloom, Ukip MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, said: “Why all of a sudden has this happened in the last year or two? It is because people are running frightened of their jobs. This is about job creation and job protection and nothing else.”

Rotherham Council said CRB checks were only needed where someone was going to be in a one-to-one situation with a vulnerable person, including children.

East Riding Council said it currently had 26 licensed street traders and extending CRBs would only affect a further four people.

However it was unable to say how many people would be affected by asking for CRB checks on people making house to house and street collections.

A spokesman said registered charities were exempt and individuals making street collections on their behalf should be covered.

The council is also recommending that the yearly CRB check be extended to every three years, with street traders signing a declaration for the other two. It says the £25 cost – a £15 ID badge is also required – “has not been particularly onerous on the trade.”

The council’s head of housing and public protection, Paul Bellotti, said: “The council is recommending to the licensing committee that employees of street traders be subject to the same basic CRB check as their employers. Street traders including ice cream sales vans operate from a variety of locations, often in locations close to schools and colleges. The checks are a preventative measure as not only do they safeguard children and vulnerable adults, but they also increase public confidence.

“Genuine street traders and their employees should be happy with the council’s approach to seek a CRB because it deters those people with an unsuitable criminal history from applying for a street trader licence.”