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Monday, 2 October, 2000, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
Tougher child abuse rules introduced
Child
The legislation aims to protect children
Tough regulations aimed at preventing child abusers from working with children have been introduced by the government.

The Protection of Children Act, which came into effect on Monday, requires all public bodies, including the NHS and local authorities, to check a national register of offenders before offering individuals a job that brings them into contact with children.

It also enables voluntary organisations, such as scout and youth clubs, to check the register to see if any of their volunteers should not be working with children.

The register includes the names of more than 1,000 people who have left or have been dismissed from jobs and were found to have either harmed children or put them at risk.


This Act will enhance considerably the protection of children within the statutory sector

NSPCC spokesman

Under the changes, voluntary organisations and public bodies will be able to recommend that individuals should be put on the register, which is called the Department of Health Consultancy Service Index.

Health Minister John Hutton said the changes would protect children.

"There is obviously a clear need for a joined up approach to child protection.

"It is crucial that someone identified as a potential risk in one child care area is not able to move to work in a different child care area, and the new Act makes sure that anyone banned from working in a child care position is also banned from working with children in the education service," he said.

Appeal

Under the Act, people who are included on the register will be able to lodge an appeal to have their name removed.

Jacqui Smith, the Schools Minister, said: "The new rules will strengthen the protection of children in England and Wales, ensuring that people who are banned from working in schools and further education colleges because they are unsuitable to work with children, will not be able to work in child care positions."

A spokesman for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said more needed to be done to protect children in the private and voluntary sectors.

"This Act will enhance considerably the protection of children within the statutory sector.

"However, we are concerned that children within the private and voluntary settings will be less protected and, in the future, a much broader approach to vetting will be required."

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