Volunteering England, Fair play for Children, NACRO, NSPCC and Barnados are among those who have commented about the impact of the new disclosure and vetting laws on volunteering. Mike Locke, director of public affairs at Volunteering England, said:
“The announcement is beneficial for the volunteering movement, but the consultations and detailed work on implementation will be all-important. Much will depend on how the regulations allow volunteering groups to organise supervision and risk assessment.”
Jan Cosgrove, national secretary of the charity Fair Play for Children, said:
“We are less worried about this than we had expected to be when we first heard the scheme was being reviewed. “If the quality of the vetting is right then it should be safe. But we are not convinced that the right balance has been struck and we are concerned that too many people will escape being checked. “Part of the problem is that a great mythology has been created around the issue by people who haven’t spoken to volunteers. I don’t accept that criminal records checks put people off volunteering.”
Anne Marie Carrie, chief executive of Barnardo’s, was more enthusiastic about the proposals.
“This is a victory for common sense,” she said. “No system will ever entirely protect children. Employers will need to be supported to establish systems that will regularly check staff and volunteers who have substantial unsupervised access to children.”
The NSPCC said the reforms “strike the right balance”
“Eliminating employees and volunteers having to undergo repeated Criminal Records Bureau checks every time they apply for a new job is right. But, all employers should regularly check these certificates online for any new information. Flanagan added that the arrangements should only form part of good employment practices and that organisations must also have robust monitoring policies in place. “Many people — in both paid and unpaid situations — pose a risk to children but do not have convictions so it’s important that non-conviction data continues to be part of disclosure certificates.” Andrew Flanagan, chief executive.
Nacro, the crime reduction charity
“This sounds like very positive, and great news for our Change the Record campaign, but we need to see the detail. We need wholesale reform that will take in vetting and barring, CRB checks and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, all of which the Government has committed itself to. The level of checks has escalated disproportionately since they were established. It means that good people who have made a mistake and turned their backs on crime have their careers and hope for rehabilitation put on the line because the legislation policy is complex and confuses employers.”
“We still have very grave concerns about local operation now putting the bureaucracy into the communities rather than being centralised… “The onus is going to be put on the local volunteer in his or her community to manage everything to do with that check, as opposed to the organisation for which they want to come forward.” (Derek Twine, chief executive)
Deborah Kitson, director of the Ann Craft Trust, which works to protect people with learning difficulties at risk of abuse, said
it “made sense” to reduce the numbers needing checks but that she had concerns about “how far this may be taken”. She also raised concerns about the “portable” CRB checks, and said she would “need to be convinced that the CRB updates referred to are efficient and prompt and so do not leave people at risk”. Kitson said she welcomed “a balance of responsibility for safeguarding to be shared by the state and the employer” so employers also have to be “diligent in their recruitment and safeguarding strategies”.