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Children at risk as UK paedophile checking system

November 1, 2009 · 

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By Paul Sims, James Slack and Daniel Bates
The Daily Mail, 1st November 2009

which will require all those working with vulnerable groups to undergo an enhanced vetting procedure before being allowed to commence any relevant duties.”]The ISA is the corner-stone of the new Vetting and Barring Scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland,[1] which will require all those working with vulnerable groups to undergo an enhanced vetting procedure before being allowed to commence any relevant duties.The Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). was created after the Soham murders, committed by Ian HuntleyChildren and vulnerable adults are being put at ‘horrifying risk’ by a huge backlog of cases within the Government’s controversial new vetting system.

Insiders at the Independent Safeguarding Authority say the checking regime, which was officially launched last month, is already in ‘meltdown’.

As a result, those sacked for inappropriate behaviour towards children are free to take other jobs with youngsters.

Convicted paedophiles are also being allowed to escape entry on lists of those banned from working with the vulnerable, according to leaked emails seen by the Mail.

Last night, a whistleblower at the ISA said: ‘It’s utter chaos.’

An astonishing 11.3million – one adult in four – will eventually be under the watchful eye of the ISA, which was created in the wake of the 2002 Soham murders.

The system is intended to provide constantly updating lists of those who are banned from working with the vulnerable. It covers everyone who comes into regular contact with children or the elderly, through work or volunteering.

All must undergo criminal records checks to see if they should be placed on one of two lists – one will bar them from working with children and the other with vulnerable adults.

Employers and regulators also have a legal duty to pass on concerns about anyone they think could be a danger to those groups.

This would include anybody sacked or disciplined for inappropriate or sexual behaviour.
But there have already been so many ‘referrals’ from employers – who face a five-year jail sentence if they do not pass on the information – they are expected to take six months to process.

The delay means potentially dangerous individuals are free to apply for similar jobs until a decision is finally made on their eligibility.

The ISA source said: ‘It might be too late by then. Because of this backlog decisions aren’t being made for months – the risks involved are horrifying.’ Leaked emails reveal separate chaos over the two lists of banned groups, which replace the likes of List 99, the Protection of Children Act list and Protection of Vulnerable Adults.

In all bar the most exceptional cases, anybody banned from working with children was also expected to be outlawed from contact with vulnerable old people.

Ahead of the system going live, staff wrote to those on the previous lists – including the likes of Ian Huntley – telling them they were now being considered for both new lists.

They were told they could appeal, but if they failed to do so they would be added automatically. The ISA received so many appeals that to consider each one would have meant failure to meet the October 12 deadline, so they approved them all.

Instead of going onto both lists, the individual was only considered for the list they were previously on.

An email sent in September, a month before the system went live, notified staff of the change in policy.

The ISA employs 250 staff at its office in Darlington. But for every 15 case workers who submit reports on individuals, there is only one line manager to make the final decision.

A separate report into the ISA and seen by the Mail reads: ‘There is a backlog of work because there are not enough people to make decisions. Staff construed this as a potential safeguarding risk.’

Last night shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said: ‘This whole scheme has to be scaled back into something that offers sensible protection for children and the elderly.’

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