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I did two exchange trips when I was of that age, one to France and one to Germany.   The German one was pretty grim, but that was because my father was dying of cancer at the time so I was probably not feeling particularly open to new cultures, and even that one, I have some brilliant memories of.  I am pretty sure that both did more for my language skills and general independence and confidence than any amount of classroom teaching.

Why would anyone want to formalise something so effective and undangerous, particularly when that is likely to crush the whole idea except for the most well-prepared and determined of families?   And surely, the criminal records check people are already overloaded and checks are taking ages...?

I expect the next move will be CRB checks for pregnant women and their partners.  



( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
20th Oct, 2009 10:36 (UTC)
The whole state of paranoia about pedophiles just seems to get more and more out-of-hand for a risk that is so small the amount of bureaucracy being put in place to reduce it even further seems completely excessive. I'm more than happy for people who work regularly, unsupervised, with a variety of children to have CRB checks but when you can no longer participate in a language exchange, or ferry friends' kids to and from sports' clubs, without a check it has, as you say, reached the point where you might as well just CRB check all prospective parents and have done with it.
20th Oct, 2009 10:55 (UTC)
... and that produces a situation where so many people have had to be specially checked, that the unchecked become an unsavory and suspicious-seeming group, just by virtue of being unchecked. This is very wrong.
20th Oct, 2009 11:11 (UTC)
I have for some time thought that pedophiles are the new witches. Very few interactions involving them seem to have any real trace of rationality or proportion. They are vile, yes, but my daughter is at far greater risk from cars...
20th Oct, 2009 12:42 (UTC)
Also, I am not sure how the system deals with malicious allegations. AIUI if the police hold any dodgy info on you at all, then you will get a "concern noted" in the relevant section of your form (instead of the "no information held" which, thank god, it says on mine). So, if I have a grudge against anyone, I just have to ring Crimestoppers and make some groundless allegation, which will then show up as a "concern" on their CRB form. This would, needless to say, be social death, as well as destroying your career if you are a teacher, health-worker, policeman, bus-driver or whatever.

I really feel we should be out in the street protesting about this.

20th Oct, 2009 12:53 (UTC)
I am one of the Unchecked, and therefore about 10 minutes after starting a protest, I estimate that someone would suggest I have something to hide.

It is indeed, a witchhunt.
20th Oct, 2009 20:10 (UTC)
10 mins sounds about right.

I, on the other hand, am the proud possessor of no fewer than 3 concurrent CRB forms. (As someone who's managed to avoid the need so far, you may not realise that you have to apply all over again for each new purpose.) All clean at the moment, but obviously if I pissed anyone off enough then that could change overnight.

(Deleted comment)
20th Oct, 2009 20:18 (UTC)
Well, it's clear that a lot of people are taking the "jack it in" option. I certainly felt miffed recently when it was only AFTER I'd agreed to give up my time to talk at a science public engagement event, it emerged that this would require me to go through yet another CRB check. I wouldn't have bothered with the extra hassle if they'd explained that up-front (which is probably why they didn't).

Some poor woman on the mumsnet forum was posting about how she'd withdrawn her daughter from Rainbows in terror after the Rainbow leader had asked if parents could help with lifts for one of the events. It meant getting CRB-checked. She'd had a previous run-in with Social Services (child had had an accident, they'd been suspected of abuse, eventually cleared but she assumed that they are now forever "on the system" and that this would show up on a CRB check). CRB forms don't show the nature of the concern so the Rainbow Leader would have no idea *why* there was a "concern noted", and might well jump to all sorts of terrifying conclusions. So rather than face the embarrassment factor of explaining all this, the mum has just withdrawn her child from the activity. One wonders how often this scenario is currently being replicated up and down the country. Another triumph for our masters.

- N.
20th Oct, 2009 20:36 (UTC)
PS I should explain that for the public engagement thing, there's absolutely no legal requirement for a CRB check, as I will be talking to the kids as a one-off, in a school hall filled with about 50 kids, 10 teachers and 3 other visiting scientists -- I think if I managed to molest anyone under those circumstances I would deserve some kind of medal, frankly. The organisation agrees there is no legal requirement, but explains it is their /policy/.
20th Oct, 2009 12:33 (UTC)
Perhaps the government could just tattoo "PERVERT" across the forehead of anyone who has ever been accused of anything unsavoury, and then we wouldn't need the CRB check any more. - Neuromancer
20th Oct, 2009 14:33 (UTC)
*waves hands limply* ooh but that would breach their human rights

Or in other words I agree with the tattoo idea, after all if a perv signs the register what does that autograph really achieve?
20th Oct, 2009 12:29 (UTC)
Let's also bear in mind that CRB checks can lead to a false sense of security as they only bring up those who have actually been caught. Mr and Mrs West of Cromwell Street in Gloucester would have come up clean.

The whole thing is a mess.
20th Oct, 2009 12:38 (UTC)
God, that is bloody depressing. Also, forget foreign exchanges, if I understood the Times article correctly and assuming "stranger" = "non-relative", then you will need an enhanced CRB check in order to have your kid's friend over for a sleepover.

I have a guilty feeling we may already have been indulging in a spot of illegal child-minding by having reciprocal playdates between K and her best friend, although the law is so complicated here (depending exactly how many hours how often at what times) that I can't tell for sure. That will have to be my defence when we get the knock at the door..

Maybe if we all vote Tory they will get in and dismantle this absurd neo-Stalinist apparatus that NuLab has erected? (hopeful)

20th Oct, 2009 12:58 (UTC)
My mother has never had a CRB check, having retired as a teacher many years ago. She is currently trying, informally, to teach some children in her village to read properly (the school and parents having apparently not tried very hard, and been unsuccessful). She met them through church, and has written a little fiction book just for them, which they got rather excited about.

I suspect she is breaking the law. :-(
20th Oct, 2009 20:22 (UTC)
Is she (gasp!) alone with the kids at any point? If so, I believe she is indeed breaking the law. Retired teacher helping the kids at church with their reading, this isn't the sort of thing the government can allow you know! Burn the witch!!
20th Oct, 2009 14:06 (UTC)
"Maybe if we all vote Tory they will get in and dismantle this absurd neo-Stalinist apparatus that NuLab has erected?"

Would be nice, but I'm not hopeful. :/
20th Oct, 2009 14:25 (UTC)
I think when the whole "can't ferry kids to sports' club" thing came up it was explained why CRB was required for them but not playing at other children's houses - something to do with them occurring on a regular schedule and complex definitions of the word "stranger" IIRC.

Heaven help you, I guess, if little-friend-Susan comes round for tea every Friday after school and you don't invite her parents around for dinner on a regular basis.

It amazes me that the obvious absurdity of it all hasn't made someone stop. Even Labour must realise that the moment someone is arrested for having their child's best friend round for tea even the most tub-thumping of tabloids is going to abandon their "who will protect the kids?" line and turn on the policy
20th Oct, 2009 18:12 (UTC)
Of course the government would like EVERYONE to have to have a CRB check, it's a £70.00 tax on being an adult, this is also why they require a new one for each relevant job & will require you to have a new one done once every 3 years.
20th Oct, 2009 20:12 (UTC)
Can we claim them on expenses?
20th Oct, 2009 18:41 (UTC)
"I expect the next move will be CRB checks for pregnant women and their partners."

Now I know you're being silly. That would be leaving it far too late. They should CRB check everyone as soon as they start having sex. Of course, that does mean they'd have to carry out invasive personal exams on all women to make sure that they really still are virgins. How about six monthly checks on all females over 12?

And what about the boys? Hm, that's a difficult one. But a camera in every bedroom and bathroom in every house in the country, now that would surely be a proportionate response.


What do you mean, no?
20th Oct, 2009 20:12 (UTC)
Discussing this with the neighbour (Inventor) while Na'Quis and his daughter played he said he would have been of the same view as me (oh no what idiots dreamt that up) up until a couple of months ago. Now he realises that actually there is now a worrying proportion of the UK population that need the government to manage what they do, and that as you can't single that group out you have to make the rule fit everyone. I pointed out that this would be poor sods who have been failed by NuLab's "education,education,education" etc*.

Sadly I don't know if the Tories would scrap it and try and get the various rights and freedoms back, you almost wonder if things will continue until there is a monstrous backlash which may also roll back various good things.

*and then you wonder was it deliberate?
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