It is not very often these days that reading a news article can fill me so quickly with rage, but this one on the Conservative Party website:
The Tories are basically saying:
WOMEN ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN CHILDREN!!!!
The anger I felt, as a male victim of both childhood sex abuse and domestic violence was nothing that even the ancient God Thor would ever have experienced. Fortunately, as I went to an independent private specialist school under the last Conservative Government, I have learned how to channel these for creativity and to campaign for social justice, and I set out my solution below.
Within days of coming to power Theresa May scrapped the whole of the Vetting and Barring Service (VBS), seemingly only because it was unpopular because the last Government went too far in changing the definition of who needed to be checked.
The previous definition of who needed to be checked – ‘Anyone with substantial, unsupervised access to children or vulnerable adults’ – was fine. But Ms May appeared rather than getting an immediate grip on the situation and seeing the wood for the trees, threw out the baby with the bathwater!
The VBS that the last Government proposed was intended to make it much easier for not-for-profit organisations like mine to find out whether someone was allowed to work for us based on their criminal history.
This would not only make it easier for us administratively, but protect the privacy of suitable candidates also.
It aimed to bring all records together, including the sexual offences register, so finding out whether someone can work with children or vulnerable adults would be as simple as ringing up HMRC or using Government Gateway to see if someone is registered with the Construction Industry Scheme and what their tax treatment is. I have had direct commercial experience of both the CIS and CRB services, and would say the CIS is the model to follow.
If Ms May had any common sense then she would realise the VBS could be used for her sexist plan, but also be equally open to all persons and organisations who are making a decision about whether to recruit someone or otherwise engage in a relationship with them, regardless of their sex, simply by changing the definition of ‘vulnerable adult’ to include those who think they are at risk of domestic abuse.
As a Chartered IT Professional Fellow, it is my golden rule that one should never introduce a new IT system where an existing one can be upgraded for the same purpose. So Ms May might want to look at whether the Construction Industry Scheme, which uses NI Numbers, Company Numbers, and UTRs as identifiers could be extended to cost effectively allow the Government Gateway to be used for the VBS like it is for the CIS.
Ms May might want to look at this option in the forthcoming Protection of Freedoms Bill.