Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Ministers retreat on child database

Moves to vet every adult who works with children are set to be watered down after the Government ordered a last-minute review of the controversial anti-paedophile scheme.

Ed Balls, the Children's Secretary, acted amid fury that the criminal record checks would affect parents who give lifts to children on behalf of sports teams or voluntary organisations such as the Scouts. The move comes after The Independent revealed that prominent children's authors, including Philip Pullman and Anthony Horowitz, have threatened to stop visiting schools rather than subject themselves to the "insulting" requirement.

Pullman said last night: "I hope they use this as an escape hatch and come up with something more acceptable." Denouncing the current plans as a "witch hunt", he said: "It's quite clear people in positions where they are constantly in contact with children need to be checked. But occasional visitors to schools – like visiting authors, or people who come to talk about a charity, or policemen who come to supervise cycling proficiency tests – aren't alone with children. It's crazy." Read more
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