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Monday, 10 July, 2000, 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK
The child protection blacklists
bbc graphic
"Misconduct" or rumour can get a teacher blacklisted
There are three official blacklists of people deemed unsuitable to work with children in England and Wales.

The one with the highest profile, although it is the newest, is probably the Sex Offenders' Register, established in 1997.

This lists those convicted of acts "of a sexual nature involving an abuse of power, where the victim is unable to give informed or true consent".

But people working with children can find themselves blacklisted even if they have not had any criminal charges brought against them.

The Department for Education's "List 99" includes people deemed unsuitable to be teachers for medical reasons or because of other forms of "misconduct" - which might have nothing to do with their suitability to work with children.

Stricter test

If people are referred to this list it might be because they have been dismissed for doing something wrong - but officials have to apply a stricter test than that.

The department says it needs "adequate evidence to substantiate the alleged misconduct, such as an admission of guilt or independent corroboration of allegations."

Thirdly, the Department of Health maintains what is called the Consultancy Service Index.

Employers can refer someone's name to this index. A spokesperson for the department said the circumstances were investigated and, if the suspicions were felt to be "well founded", the name went on the list.

It is this process which a primary school teacher who found himself listed is challenging by way of judicial review in the High Court.

One of the main grounds for the challenge, alleging a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, is the lack of a right of appeal.

Right of appeal

But the systems are about to change as a result of the Protection of Children Act, passed last year.

This new law incorporates a formal right of appeal against blacklisting, to an independent tribunal presided over by a lawyer, Trevor Aldridge QC.

The health index will be put on a statutory footing as the Protection of Children Act List.

List 99 will be split into two categories - one involving such things as fraud and dishonesty, the other specifically to do with people who are not considered "fit and proper persons to work as teachers or in work involving regular contact with children".

For the first time, the Act will require childcare organisations to check prospective employees against the lists.

This includes voluntary organisations, and on Monday the government began a consultation process on how exactly this should work.

Although passed by Parliament last year, the Act is not yet in force pending the outcome of the consultation.

'One stop shop'

The government hopes to apply it by October, when the Human Rights Act takes effect and incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.

Ultimately the intention is that employers would have a single way of checking with all three of these lists through a Criminal Records Bureau.

This was recommended by an official inquiry in December 1998 - but delays in the Home Office computer system mean that is still some way off.

  • "List 99" dates back to before World War II and is said to have got its name because 99 was its departmental file number.

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    07 Jul 00 | Scotland
    Prison threat to 'unsuitable' adults
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