Josie Appleton of the Manifesto Club addresses what I think is a huge issue embedded in the creation of the Independent Safeguarding Authority:
UK Home Office and education officials simply cannot understand why anyone wouldn’t want to be vetted. When I challenged the Home Office official in charge of the scheme about a potential rebellion against vetting, he said that if somebody didn’t want to be vetted ‘there must be suspicious reasons for that’. He described the vetting database as like a ‘club’, which all decent adults should want to be part of. What a corrupted view of decency: being on a state database and submitting ourselves to constant surveillance.
Yet officials are themselves unclear about who will have to be on their vetting database, which means that the whole scheme will also breed mass confusion. In theory, an adult has to be checked if they work or volunteer with children ‘frequently’, defined as ‘once a month’ or ‘three days at a time’. So not, by implication, if they work with children once every five weeks, or for two-and-a-half days. Yet a Home Office spokesperson said yesterday that all adults who had a ‘tiny amount of contact’ with children would have to be vetted.
This is the same way which the Home Office is dealing with the question of identity cards. It has a solution in need of a problem and then uses propaganda to generate a ‘problem’ which they then can trumpet they’ve fixed. It’s an insidious way of conducting government – to ignore the question of need for such an initiative, but instead to suggest that anyone who disagrees with it is by extension a paedophile or potential paedophile, thus validating the existence of the ISA. In another article Appleton writes:
In the report (The Case Against Vetting: How the Child Protection Industry is Poisoning Adult-Child Relations.), Jim Campbell, mayor of Oxford, argues that mass vetting erodes informal bonds: ‘The important informal ways in which people relate are going to disappear – everything will be done under contract. We are in danger of creating a generation of children who are encouraged to look at people who want to help them with suspicion.’
Johnny Ball, TV presenter and mathematician, says that that vetting means that everybody relies on bureaucratic proceedures, and that children grow up without ‘the ability to themselves assess character and motives in the people they meet’. It also undermines the good will on both sides: ‘This awful legislation does nothing to build confidence in young people or indeed in teachers.’
This is one of the most important points to remember – above all it will prevent children and young people from developing the ability to risk assess competently – a skill which we need throughout our lives. But Campbell’s argument is also one worth repeating – relationships between people are being forced into being conducted under contract. It’s insane. It should be anathema to the British character, and it’s perversely heartening to see even the authoritarian Daily Mail joining in the attack on the ISA. But I have to come back again to the initial point in this post – I am not suspicious for refusing to be on a vetting database, any more than for refusing to be on an identity database. The club that I want to be part of is the human race, not a horrible government database, under scrutiny by unqualified and unaccountable bureaucrats, with the freedom to manage my working life in any arbitrary way they choose. I choose instead to relate to others, both in work and outside of it, in the informal, uncodified ways we naturally adopt as human beings. The Independent Safeguarding Authority is morally wrong and must be abolished.
(via James, with thanks)