Saturday, 12 September 2009

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006

Living, as I do, in Sheltered Accommodation it is only natural that I have more than a vested interest in this 'Act of Parliament'. Many words have been written in both the blogosphere and the MSM on this bill and some of those comments and articles have been erroneous in both fact and understanding.

Admittedly having only skimmed the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 a number of comments and questions arise.

It is interesting to note the Official Oppositions stance on this bill, highlighted by Iain Dale in this post, in which the point is made that the Conservative Party - through the efforts of James Brokenshire and Maria Miller, part of Grayling's Shadow Home affairs team - are working on a detailed study of this bill and consequently Grayling does not wish to make any pronouncement which might adversely effect their work. The 'silence' from the C onservative Party - other than the required 'soundbite - is therefore, to a certain extent, understandable.

It would seem that the Liberal Democrats have changed their position on this Act as, back in 2006 during the second reading, Annette Brooke, (Mid-Dorset & North Poole) Liberal Democrat,  stated that "I should like to place on record the Liberal Democrats’ broad support for the measures that it proposes." (Hansard 19th June 2006 - Col: 1109) yet only recently Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman said the government was "in danger of creating a world in which we think every adult who approaches children means to do them harm".(BBC)

As to initial questions:

David Willets (Havant) Conservative raised the point about foreign workers: 

"Does the Minister think that any of the Bill’s provisions will ensure scrutiny of people recruited into education or social services from outside this country?" (Hansard 19th June 2006 - Col: 1089), 

to which Beverley Hughes, Minister for Children & Families, replied that: 

"The Bill makes no distinctions whatsoever in terms of the requirements for checking whether an applicant is a British or foreign national. However, we certainly have more to do in enabling employers, as far as we can, to access and check the criminal records of people in certain foreign countries." (Hansard 19th June 2006 - Col: 1089). 

One wonders whether that 'more to do' was in fact done.

It is pleasing to know that as a result of this Act I will be classed as a 'vulnerable adult' as page 42, section 59 states:

"(1) A person is a vulnerable adult if he has attained the age of 18 and -
       (f) he is in Sheltered Housing.

As I also 'work' with vulnerable adults, in that I drive the village minibus to take 'vulnerable adults' to various supermarkets, it would appear that I will need to register myself as Part 2 Regulated Activity Relating To Vulnerable Adults, states: 

7 (1): Each of the following is a regulated activity relating to vulnerable adults if it is carried out frequently by the same person or the period condition is satisfied -

      (f) driving a vehicle which is being used only for the purpose of conveying vulnerable adults

So we have the ludicrous situation whereby I, as a 'vulnerable adult', living amongst 'vulnerable adults' and driving 'vulnerable adults' must, as a 'vulnerable adult', submit myself for checking to enable me to continue my work with 'vulnerable adults'!

The present Children's Minister, Delyth Morgan made much, in radio and press interviews, of the ''Soham Case' and prevention of any similar instances, yet nowhere in this Act have I yet seen where it would have prevented that sad event. But hey, let us not 'nit-pick' - after all this was a government minister speaking and that is a breed not renowned for making fair comparisons!

As Caron's Musings says:

"The idea is that Ian Huntley, the man responsible for the Soham murders, would have been caught out by this new register because his previous charges or complaints against him would have come to light. But what if he had been identified and removed from the school premises? He'd still have lived somewhere and perhaps on another day a combination of circumstances would have presented him with the opportunity to kill random children he came into contact with.......The ISA register is based on the premise, gathered on many years of research (why, isn't it obvious?) that those who would harm children get themselves into positions where they can work closely with children. This Register is going to weed them out. But, hang on, teachers are already vetted to within an inch of their lives and very occasionally you read about one who has formed an inappropriate or abusive relationship with a pupil."

My initial reaction - in which it would seem that I am not alone - is that, like so much of this government's ideas, not a lot of the 'grey matter' has been used. But then, does this government have any 'grey matter'?


subrosa said...

In reply to your question, yes labour does have Iain Gray, but he really doesn't matter as he insists nobody knows him.

TheFatBigot said...

Sadly, I fear it goes far beyond a lack of grey matter.

Your personal example, Mr Witterings, shows up one of the many insidious absurdities of the scheme. Who is best able to assess whether you are a suitable person to help your neighbours by driving the minibus? The obvious answer is: sensible local people who have known you for a decent length of time and have been able to form a view of your character.

Of course there is no role for the State in such an assessment, so it won't satisfy those currently in power. Only they know what is best, only they have good judgment, only they have the necessary insight to judge whether you are a suitable person.

The whole thing is upside-down. Mrs Patel from the corner shop and Mr Jones at the Post Office are better placed to say who is sound and who is not than any committee of quangoids.

But that is only part of it. There is also the very fact that the State, in its paranoia, now suspects everyone of being a paedophile or a Harold Shipman. How can they be so stupid?

No, don't answer, I'm not sure there is enough time left in the world to list all the reasons.