Safeguarding and ISA – will it work?

I’m becoming more and more concerned about the implications of the forthcoming changes to the child protection infrastructure. The changes are pretty fundamental, but, IMHO, the implications of changes are even bigger.

Whilst reading on the ISA site, I needed to open one of their pdfs (groan!), so I quickblogged the relevant parts to here and here. When you think and read about it, I think you’ll agree there is some heavy duty stuff in there. Let’s quickly look at what’s involved. The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 specifies what it calls ‘Regulated Activities‘ which are covered by the legislation. And it defines – in relation to ‘Regulated Activities’ – what an Employers Duties are. These include:

  • It will be a criminal offence for an employer to allow a barred person, or a person who is not yet registered with the ISA, to work for any length of time in any regulated activity.
  • It will be a criminal offence for an employer to take on a person in a regulated activity if they fail to check that person’s status.

All that sounds fine, especially when you consider the list of things that are included as ‘Regulated Activities’.  But did you realise that

Regulated activity is any activity which involves contact with children or vulnerable adults. This could be paid or voluntary work.

So that includes – as I read it – everyone who regularly helps with youth football training, or brownies. But using the football club as an example, I can see a few problems. Firstly, who in the club will be the ’employer’? Because s/he can fined £5K or put in prison if they allow someone to undertake a ‘regulated activity’ (coaching the boys) without first having them checked out by ISA.

So are the Powers-That-Be going to start putting little-old-lady-club-secretaries in prison because an unregistered Dad has been helping out with the Under 14s since the summer? Or are they going to fine the club £5000? (Has the club got £5000?) Another possibility is that they may just do nothing. Brush it under the carpet. Ignore it.

And I really don’t know which is worse? Because none of those ‘solutions’ will improve things for kids or parents.

But, as I said at the beginning, I’m really concerned that actually what will happen is that fewer and fewer people will volunteer, me amongst them. And the kids will be worse off as a result.

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