The Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) undermines the basis of fairness and the rule of law in this country. It’s very simple. You commit a crime, you go to court, you pay a price, that price is finite, then you are allowed to continue in society. If you have killed it probably pays for the police to keep an eye on you; that’s what they do. If you are guilty of anything which gets the attention of child protection services then they keep an eye on you too. Neither agency can however permanently punish you, they can’t infringe your human rights – they can only do their jobs, and they with probation services are tasked through fair and proportional, evidence-based means with preventing repeat offending. Social services are allowed powers to guarantee the safety of the vulnerable – these, crucially, are evidence-based, and depend on social workers understanding specific people, families and situations via every local government agency (including care homes, schools etc), and working in conjunction with them. If existing agencies had done their jobs properly Ian Huntley would never have murdered Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells. If existing agencies had done their jobs properly Baby Peter would be alive today. If existing agencies had done their jobs properly Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez would be alive today. Get the picture?
The ISA however was created under the assumption that anyone and everyone is a potential danger to vulnerable people. The ‘authority’ blacklists people it doesn’t know but determines to be dangerous, from large swathes of employment, with no credible means of appeal at all. This can be evidence-based, but it doesn’t have to be, and in many cases it already hasn’t been. If you’re an employer the freedom you currently have to risk-assess whether or not a potential (or existing) employee is safe and suitable will be ripped from you – you face actual prosecution if you hire a barred person for work the ISA doesn’t approve of. This can be the result of a false accusation, a whimsical stance against a former offender (New Labour’s created a lot of those – have you noticed?), and check the first paragraph – it’s all unnecessary. As a contributor to this blog has pointed out:
To contextualise this, it is statistically proven that about 60% of men will have an affair during the course of their married life. Therefore, “on the balance of probability” ALL married men are adulterous. Clearly, this conclusion is wrong; but is the conclusion that the ISA would have to reach, determined by their own policy.
It’s crackers, but this is the road we’re going down. How on earth can this protect the children, young and vulnerable people who need protection? Why is the money needed to fund a giant, unaccountable bureaucracy not going into probation, police and social services whose job it is to prevent offending? Why is the right training and right management not being provided for our local services? Why do they still persist in not communicating with one another properly to protect society from the real dangers? Setting up a ‘cure-all’ agency to fix a problem only effectively tackled with sensitivity by multi-agency and community work will only divert attention away from the real threats in society. An undermined rule of law and no effective means of protecting the vulnerable – the ISA must be abolished as a matter of urgency.