Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Thursday, July 29, 1999 Published at 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK


Employers of child abusers face jail

Children in care are to be given more educational support

Employers and voluntary group organisers could be jailed if they knowingly allow child abusers to work with children.

Alison Holt : "New measures will ban anyone convicted of sexual or physical abuse from working with children"
The proposal is included in a report by an interdepartmental working group published on Thursday and detailing new measures to protect children.

The move is the result of a government-wide review of how to prevent unsuitable people from working with children - whether in council care, or helping out with the local football team.

Ministers propose a series of tough new measures.

Judges will be given powers to impose a ban on anyone given a sentence of 12 months or more for sexual or physical abuse of children from working with young people for at least 10 years.

Health care ban

If they flouted the ban, they would face a penalty of up to five years in prison and an unlimited fine.

The same penalty would apply to employers and voluntary organisers who knowingly allowed abusers to work with children.

The measures would add to the Protection of Children Act passed a few weeks ago.

That allows employers and voluntary organisations access to criminal records so they can identify unsuitable people. It also means the home secretary can ban them from working in health and social care.

Home Secretary Jack Straw is promising to legislate to implement the proposals in England and Wales as soon as possible.

Education approval

He said the scheme would represent a significant step forward in protecting children from potential abuse.

Similar laws would be introduced in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Education Minister Estelle Morris welcomed the proposals.

"The measures build on existing systems for protecting children from unsuitable people...and will provide an important new safeguard," she said.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) also praised the move.

"People who abuse children do it a lot over many years and are often well organised," said an NSPCC spokesman.

"For quite a long time we have been saying the government needs to take steps as well organised, or better organised, than the offender.

"We think this legislation will be a significant step forward."

But the Professional Association of Nursery Nurses said the measures did not go far enough.

It says the 12-month limit could provide a loophole for some sex offenders. It also wants to see a compulsory national register of all people working with children.

All listed would undergo police checks, give a complete employment history and have to have a minimum standard of professional qualifications.

'Fewer volunteers'

The government is plans to set up a Criminal Records Bureau which would create a one-stop check shop for organisations working with children.

For the price of £10 per prospective employee, it would allow them to check employment and police records for any report of abuse or suspicion of abuse.

The Bureau could be up and running withing two to three years.

But Victor Darcy-Smith, from the National Centre for Volunteeering, fears many groups will not be able to afford the cost of the vetting.

"We are not opposed to police checks. We are opposed to charging volunteers who give their time for free," he said.

He warned the measures could result in a drop in volunteer numbers.

The Institute of Directors also attacked the £10 charge for checks.

Head of policy Ruth Lea said: "This could become a burden for labour intensive businesses or the voluntary sector.

"Time and again business is being asked to pay for the government's social agenda."

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

29 Jul 99 | UK
Legal clampdown on paedophiles

23 Jul 99 | UK
Call to 'break cycle of abuse'

22 Jul 99 | UK
Paedophiles 'move abroad' due to UK crackdown

29 Jul 99 | UK
Housing paedophiles: Behind the headlines

05 Jul 99 | UK
Council knew worker's sex attack past

22 Jun 99 | UK
Money and training for foster carers

17 Feb 98 | UK
New child abuse prevention plans

19 Nov 97 | Politics
Dobson: 'child care report a woeful tale of failure'

Internet Links

National Institute of Social Work

Children's Society


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online