Schools to vet parents for christmas

As reported by The Sunday Times yesterday, parents who help schools supervise children at Christmas events are being checked for a criminal record to see if they are paedophiles.

School_carol_service_2 The schools are apparently using a government database of sex offenders banned from working with children to vet adults under new guidelines.

According to the Times,

Graham McArthur, headmaster of Somersham primary school in Cambridgeshire, said checks on the two dozen parents volunteering to walk his 330 pupils to the carol service at nearby St John’s church on December 17 were necessary — even though they will be accompanied by teachers and a police community support escort when crossing the road.

“For the carol service they will need clearance [from the banned list] which is basically something we can do on the day. You need to see details of who they are, where they live and make several phone calls."

It is the 'several phone calls' which is the most unsettling. Put simply, it is a fundamental breach of privacy for parents to have their criminal records checked by school administrators. One wrong turn; a case of mistaken identity; or even a call to the wrong person (e.g. the parent's employer) and an innocent person could be unfairly branded for life.
This sort of overly officious and intrusive behaviour only serves to increase the culture of fear and mistrust that runs through our society.

By Dylan Sharpe