One Rule For Them

What a surprise. If you’re a regular visitor to a school in future (as ministers like me who take assemblies are) you’ll need vetting under the new Safeguarding procedures. But if you’re another kind of minister visiting schools – namely, a Government minister – you won’t. See here.


    1. Double standards, for sure. If clergy or authors regularly visit schools, then yes, I suppose we should be vetted – it would be consistent with other practice in this area. But for Government ministers to go into schools as they do for publicity stunts and not be subject to the same checks is hypocrisy. It fits with the way in the recent expenses scandal many of them claimed accountancy fees when the rest of us can’t claim that against tax at all.


  1. Agreeing with you both……I definitely smell a hypocritical rat of some description…

    I have to ask……I’m not familiar with the term “vetting”…..could you define that one for me?


    1. Vetting is about being checked for suitability before being appointed to something sensitive. In the context, UK law requires people to have their criminal records checked before working with children. For example, these are mandatory if you want to teach Sunday School (children’s church) in your church, and if you want to be a teacher. If it is a paid post, there is a fee to pay. Anyone with convictions or ‘cautions’ for sexual offences or crimes against children is barred from such jobs, if found out. Apparently that isn’t necessary with Government ministers, though.


      1. ah, okay…….basically the same as a “background check” here, my wife and I have both had to have that for working with the Vacation Bible School with our church, mainly because we invite other community children to come, so all the workers have to be checked out.

        I’m floored that Government ministers feel themselves above this…..


        1. You got it. They think that because they might visit several schools once rather than one several times they’re automatically less a threat than anyone else.


  2. I have always held the view that the CRB check/paperwork and the proposed ISA are no more relevant that the annual MOT on a motor vehicle. An MOT certificate only proves the car was road worthy at that point in time and I believe the CRB/ISA checks are the same. Let’s be honest all they really prove is that someone hasn’t been caught not that they haven’t done anything.
    I really do wonder how far all this will go – perhaps from a church point of view every member will have to have a CRB check or in the school sense every parent will have to and I know some of you will think I am crazy but if I had said a few years ago that we would be reading and commenting on this story I would have been laughed at.
    I know George Orwell didn’t quite get the date right but it seems we are fats heading to the type of world he described.


    1. Hi FP,

      Yes, I’ve used the MOT analogy before. It only shows what the state of play was on the date of issue. Although unlike the MOT, something could have been undetected.

      I’ve actually been surprised that this last year when I as a parent have helped once a week with reading at our children’s school that I haven’t had to obtain a CRB check. Granted, I was always with a group of children and I was in the classroom with a teacher, teaching assistant and other parents – and it’s also an open-plan design – but nevertheless I always expected to need one.


  3. I share the general scepticism about CRB checks – if you haven’t been found out, they show nothing. However, it was reported a few years ago that on average 5 paedophiles a year were being shown up by our Safeguarding and CRB checks as they tried to get into jobs in the Methodist Church. So it is doing something right.

    As to the famous authors who have said they will refuse to go into schools – well, stop being such prima donnas. I will undergo whatever CRB and ISA checking I need to in order to do the work I wish to do, as will every other ordained person; I don’t read it as a presumption of guilt, rather as an insurance health-check. If it’s good enough for dedicated and practising Christians, it’s good enough for them. And Government ministers.


    1. I don’t have a problem with being checked, within the limitations, and I’m glad if it catches a few. My problem here is with exemptions for Government ministers. As I said in the second comment above, it stinks of their claiming accountancy fees back in the way the rest of us can’t. They just haven’t learned from the expenses scandal.


  4. I appreciate Tony’s comments and I understand what he is saying exactly and yes I am pleased that we are catching some people out with this, however I do think there is some silliness involved in this and the case Dave raises is a prime example. I do think too that there really does need to be some sense used in applying these things – I did suggest we might soon have to have all members of the congregation checked and who knows whether we might given that we may not work with children but could certainly come into contact with them.
    There really does need to be some point at which we apply sense and reason and some of the current application does not seem to do that – why for instance does someone working in the Sunday School at a church and with say the Brownies need to have two separate CRB checks – surely there should be some transportability where they are current.


    1. Yes, the lack of portability seems especially ludicrous given that the Methodist Church accepts a Disclosure as being valid for five years. And the list of who needs one can even as it stands make for a long list of included people in a church. My predecessor had to start the process here for everyone working on the Holiday Club (and yes, I certainly agree such people should be checked), which must have been a huge task for him. I have had to follow it with the five year renewals.

      At times it has felt like I was doing nothing else by way of pastoral visiting beyond checking disclosure forms. I’m an ex-civil servant and used to form-filling, but even I find it tedious, tiresome and testing to ensure everything is correct. I almost never send off the forms immediately but re-check them at home before sending them, especially since the £5 fine for incorrect forms was introduced. And having had one form returned to a church member where the Churches’ Agency for Safeguarding claimed they had contacted the person who had failed to reply when that wasn’t true, I’m just a little cynical. I’m sure it’s frustrating for them to encounter badly completed forms, but some appreciation of what it means at our end would be welcome.


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