Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Thursday, 8 October 2009

More unintended consequences from Labour policies?

I did a post a few weeks back highlighting some of the debating tactics that opponents will try to use in any campaign against the Independent Safeguarding Authority regulations being brought into force this month.

Today, someone called Frankie S has left a lengthy comment on that post which I think merits a wider audience so I have reproduced it here in full. Over to Frankie:

It's not just people who work with children who will be effected by the ISA, it's also everyone working with vulnerable adults. Be aware: We are all considered vulnerable adults in some circumstances. For example if you are a student. The substance misuse field is staffed at least 30% by former substance misusers, many of whom will have offenses mentioned in the barring lists. Also, consider the case of oprojects where former gang members are mentoring youths to help them resist street gang membership. These people could possibly be barred from doing the good work that they do. I include a letter I wrote to the ISA outlineing our concerns.

Hi Andy
My colleagues Bob Bharij and Linda Bush were at the meeting about the ISA yeaterday. I would have liked to have been there myself as I have been trying to get some clarity on the matter also. Thought you might be interested in the email below that I sent to:
Warm Regards

I work with the London Training Team at Addaction, the nation's biggest organisation supporting substance misusers. Our two main projects train people, (the majority of them ex offenders), to work in the substance misuse field. The new ISA vetting & barring system will have significant implications for our recruitment process as well as for recruitment in the field as a whole. I was directed by the ISA helpline to the document called Guidance Notes for "Barring and Decision Making Process". This document does not give the clarity we need. On page 12, 4.6.5 it lists relevant offences, (which most of our trainees will have a history of), particulary "involve acquisitive behaviour and fraud" "relate to addictive behaviour or persistent offending".

This raises the following questions:
1) Is it the case that anyone whose previous offences are described under 4.6.5 will be investigated?
2) If not, what criteria, (e.g. time lapsed since offence/s etc), would mitigate the chances of them being investigated?
3) If a person is investigated, what criteria would mitigate the chances of them being barred?

We recruit trainees who will become job ready in one to two years time so we need to know exactly who is likely to be barred or not in advance of recruitment.
This means we need to know, at the very least, the criteria the investigations are working to when they consider the above cases.
At 4.6.9 of the document it states: "It is again important to stress that each case is dealt with on its merits. It is therefore, not possible to specify which offences would lead to a bar (other than auto-bar offences) and which offences would not".

If it is not possible to specify what offences would lead to a bar, we at least, need to know what criteria would mitigate the chances of them being barred?

For us, this lack of clarity is unworkable. We are working with the, often, fragile aspirations of people who are turning their lives around and attempting to become productive members of society. We feel very strongly that it would be unfair to the individuals involved, detrimental to our finances and counter-productive to the aims of our organisation to recruit and begin training people without knowing whether they are later going to be barred from working in the field.
I would be very grateful if you could address the above questions and clarify the issues raised.


This sounds to me like yet another unintended consequence of Labour's authoritarian policies. I am interested to hear the response that Frankie gets from the ISA and I hope he/she posts another comment on here to update us. If they do, I will update the main post here to reflect that.


Dippyness. said...

I think you know how I feel about this ludicrous law.
I would be barred from working with vulnerable adults. Yet my doctors consider I have a unique & valuable insight in to helping them to recover.
I'm anorexic. A form of self harm.
Yet under the guide lines I would be considered a "danger".
My personal experience is worth 20 so called experts opinions.
Thank you Mark for high lighting this issue.

Rankersbo said...

Good point.

Howver I have been hearing of cases like this and of child protection that would come under the ISA, and they should all be currently covered by CRB disclosures. People working with vunerable adults should be being checked now, this is not new.

I think in the example above, the body requesting the check would be aware of what the applicant would be working with and could judge the results of the CRB in that context.

This also applies to people working with young people. People applying to be Scout leaders get CRB checked and the results go to the appropriate commissioner. If the check is not clean the commissioner in question must make a judgement as to whether the offences constitute a risk. Someone with a conviction for fraud may be allowed to help, but not allowed a position where they manage money.

Problem is that misjudgements can be made at a local level by people too nervous to allow someone with a totally irrellevant conviction, as much as can be made by office workers treating people being vetted as units.

Letters From A Tory said...

Thankfully, the Conservatives will be looking to save money after the election and schemes such as the ISA will surely bite the dust.