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Checks on children's club drivers

 Parents who regularly drive children for sports or social clubs will have to undergo criminal record checks or face fines of up to £5,000 under new rules.

Along with parents who host foreign exchange students, they will fall under the scope of the Vetting and Barring Scheme, the Home Office has confirmed.

More than 11 million people are expected to be subject to checks

The measures to stop paedophiles are being introduced from next month in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Critics have branded them "insulting" and say they could deter volunteers.

A separate but aligned scheme is being set up in Scotland.

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said: "This new regime has the potential to be a real disaster for activities involving young people.

"We are going to drive away volunteers, we'll see clubs and activities close down and we'll end up with more bored young people on our streets."
This is a commonsense approach and what parents would rightly expect
Home Office spokesman

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said the government was "in danger of creating a world in which we think every adult who approaches children means to do them harm".

"Should parents who give other people's children a lift to sports matches really face a £5,000 fine and criminal record if they fail to register?" he added.

But a Home Office spokesman said "informal" arrangements between parents would not be covered.

"This is a commonsense approach and what parents would rightly expect," he said, adding that the rules would make of the world's most

advanced systems "even more rigorous".

Anyone taking part in activities involving "frequent" or "intensive" contact with children or vulnerable adults three times in a month, every month, or once overnight, must register.

All 300,000 school governors, as well as every doctor, nurse, teacher, dentist and prison officer will also have to sign up.

It is thought that 11.3 million people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland - close to one in four of all adults - may register with the Home Office's Independent Safeguarding Authority [ISA].

'Soft intelligence'

After November 2010 failure to register could lead to criminal prosecution and fine. The clubs themselves also face a £5,000 penalty for using non-vetted volunteers.

The scheme was recommended by the Bichard report into the Soham murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman by college caretaker Ian Huntley.

Huntley had been given the job despite previous allegations of sex with under-age girls, which were not passed on.

Two hundred case workers at the ISA's Darlington base will collect information from police, professional bodies and employers, before ruling who is barred.


  The rules aim to stop those like Soham killer Ian Huntley accessing children

Even those like Huntley, without a criminal record, could be barred if officials are convinced by other "soft intelligence" against them.

Estimates suggest the number of people facing a ban will double to 40,000 once the scheme is up and running.

Those registered will face continuing scrutiny, with existing registrations reconsidered if new evidence is disclosed.

However, Soham report author Sir Michael Bichard suggested the scheme could be revised.

He told the Independent newspaper last month: "If you visit one school in January, and then don't visit that school again, but visit another school in February and another in March, is that frequent or intensive?"

He was speaking after a number of authors, including Philip Pullman and Michael Morpurgo, complained the requirement was "insulting" and pledged to quit school visits.

Registration will cost £64 in England and Wales, but unpaid volunteers will be exempt from the charge.

(powered by: BBC NEWS)




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