This week, I’ve got CRB forms in my sights, or now what are known as Disclosure and Barring Service checks. For those of you who don’t know what they are, if you don’t live in the UK, these forms are what people are required to complete and submit when applying to work with vulnerable adults, or children, or adoption or fostering, in this country, both in paid and or voluntary employment. They are so your employer, or social services, can check what, if any convictions you have and deem you suitable and safe to work with these groups.
I have nothing against being checked to see if I have a criminal record, I don’t have one, I have nothing to hide, and think that all people working with children and vulnerable adults should be checked, thoroughly, to make sure they are safe to work with them. I do however object to the paperwork and ridiculous administration and faff that goes into this system and the fact that EVERY time you apply for something, you have to go through the process again, regardless of other checks that you have completed, and no matter how recent they are.
For example. I have recently started helping out in Big Girl’s class at school. I happily filled in the form, because I know it is needed, after all, they can’t just let anyone wander round a school full of children. (although it seems that if you are a celebrity or work in the BBC you are allowed to do pretty much whatever you want, it seems, but lets not go there!) and I have no issues with being checked. Sadly, there are people who would like to do harm to children or those who are unable to speak out, so there have to be systems in place to prevent this, where at all possible. The problem I have is that I currently hold 4 other current, complete and compatible CRB forms, from other parts of London, and the UK, one of which was only completed and approved less than 2 months ago. I have been through the system more than 10 times since it came into force (for work and voluntary purposes) and yet I still have to go through the same rigmarole, dig out papers proving my identity, including my marriage and birth certificates, because I was not born in the UK and fill in the forms, which if you have done them, you know how pernickety they are about what type of pen you use, and if you make too many mistakes or an error you have to re do the whole form.
I currently hold an up to date form for Kingston Upon Thames, where I work, one for Richmond (where I volunteer for a Brownie pack) and now one for the school for Richmond, one for Surrey, where I have done some voluntary work, and also one for Merton Borough, because I will be doing some training with Social Services next year, with them, and need to be CRB’ed for them too. That’s 5 CRB checks and up to date forms currently in my name.
WHY, WHY, WHY can’t we have a single, up to date, database, where people’s details are entered, and then when they apply for a job or a position where a check is required, they be looked up and cleared? This could be updated every 3 years or whenever needed. Why do we need to jump through hoops, fill out forms, and gather more paperwork that then isn’t valid for anything else, when we apply for these checks? Surely the form I have recently completed could be used for my current application? No, I have to do it all again. Madness!
It’s government bureaucracy at it’s finest, and it’s a shambles. From what I have read, many people apply for the check, are cleared and yet are still actually found to be unsuitable to work with children or vulnerable adults. Surely having a system where there are so many organisations having to make the checks and each time a separate clearance is produced is chaotic and risky? Wouldn’t a centralised database be easier to manage and maintain and make things safer? I know after the Soham case, this system was put in place to prevent such tragedies happening again, but the system is so complicated I don’t see how it really works properly. Surely with all separate counties, boroughs and organisation having to do checks people are slipping through the system or being declared criminals, incorrectly.
Mind you, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge has had to do a CRB check so she could do volunteer work with the Scouts group, so I guess if she has, then I don’t mind too much… You’d think that someone marrying into the Royal Family, our future Queen, would have been vetted by sources far more competent that a local authority, but no, apparently she isn’t above the system, so I guess the rest of us mere mortals have to put up with it too!
What do you think? Do you think the current system works and that I need to go drink more decaff and stop ranting or do you agree with me that the system is complicated, outdated and disorganised? I am sure David Cameron promised to overhaul and simplify it, but I cannot find any articles on whether he did or not, and it seems to have become more complicated, with men who run burger vans within miles of schools having to be checked, and people who want to work in charity shops being targeted.
Do share your thoughts and don’t forget to click on the link to read other rants over at Mummy Barrow’s Blog.
Have a good weekend!