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Last Updated: Monday, 17 March 2008, 17:50 GMT
Banned sex offender numbers rise
Ministers are committed to 'the toughest ever vetting' system
The number of sex offenders banned from working with children has risen from 4,921 to 8,036 in the last year, Schools Secretary Ed Balls has said.

The increase in the number of people on List 99 - people barred from schools - was mainly due to the tightening up of regulations, he told MPs.

Four people who had a partial ban allowing them to work with some youngsters have been given a total ban.

It follows the case of a sex offender who worked as a PE teacher in Norfolk.

Changes which came into force in February 2007 blacklist all people over 18 who were convicted of, or cautioned for, relevant paedophile offences, regardless of whether they had ever worked with children.

'Painstaking' review

"The safety of children and young people is our top priority," Mr Balls told MPs.

"We are committed to ensuring we have the toughest ever vetting and barring system for all those working with, or seeking to work with, children and vulnerable adults."

A "painstaking" review of sex offences committed before 1997, when the sex offenders' register began, and between 1997 and 2005 has resulted in 46 further individuals being barred, he said.

Some 2,559 case files were examined by the review panel, led by Sir Roger Singleton, who chairs the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

New vetting arrangements

Other cases under review included where a partial bar was put on offenders, restricting their employment with children to certain types of establishment or school.

In 2007, the then education secretary Alan Johnson placed a full bar on 12 of the 210 partial bar cases.

Mr Balls said four more cases had been made subject to a full bar.

He said the administration of List 99 cases would begin to transfer to the ISA at the end of this month.

Sir Roger would be responsible for making decisions under new vetting and barring arrangements.

The new scheme will replace the current List 99, along with the Protection of Children Act list, the Protection of Vulnerable Adults list and Disqualification Orders handed down by the courts.

Mr Balls said the new lists would bar individuals from working with children and vulnerable adults.

Rules that govern the arrangements under which the ISA must include or consider including those barred under the current schemes, will come into force on 7 April.

The Home Office will make a statement to MPs on the ISA's work and progress made "in due course".

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