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Miranda Hurst reports
"Lord Cullen's inquiry found existing checks were not enough"
 real 56k

Friday, 7 July, 2000, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Prison threat to 'unsuitable' adults
New measures to protect children in Scotland
Adults deemed unsuitable to work with children could face a five year jail term if they accept a job from which they are disqualified.

The tough stance forms part of a range of proposals outlined by the Scottish Executive as part of a move to offer children greater protection from unsuitable adults.

The executive has proposed an index of adults who are believed to pose a threat to children, even if they have no criminal record and are not included on a register of known sex offenders.

An adult who accepts a job knowing that he or she is disqualified from could face a five year prison sentence and an unlimited fine.

Lord Cullen
Lord Cullen: Inquiry into Dunblane shootings
The index was one of the recommendations of the Cullen report, completed in the wake of the Dunblane Primary School shootings in 1996.

The executive's proposals will be put out to public consultation before any legislation is drawn up.

The Cullen Inquiry found that existing criminal record checks were not sufficient to protect children from adults who may pose a threat to their safety.

Since then the executive has been putting together proposals for a register identifying people who should not work with children, either as paid employees or as volunteers.

Independent body

The executive has been taking advice on the civil liberties implications of such a register, and will be seeking views on how to avoid innocent people appearing on the list.

Education Minister, Sam Galbraith, said the regulation of childcare services will be removed from local authorities and passed to the proposed Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care, an independent body to be set up by 2002.

He said: "It's this balance you have to get right between protecting the child on the one hand and other individuals' human rights and therefore we have taken some time to get it right.

Sam Galbraith
Sam Galbraith: Human rights considered
"But it's important to have a register of people that can't work with children. Not necessarily because they have committed a crime but just that they are unsafe or unsuitable."

The executive has also proposed that the current regulation of nurseries and after-school clubs for under-eights be extended to cover provision for all primary schoolchildren.

Sixteen children and a teacher were killed when Thomas Hamilton broke into Dunblane Primary School and opened fire in March 1996.

Hamilton, who had worked with groups of local children, also injured 12 other children and two teachers before killing himself.

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