Authors reaffirm opposition to vetting scheme

<p>Authors remain opposed to the government&rsquo;s controversial &#39;vetting and barring&#39; scheme, despite a change that largely excludes them from having to be registered. The government climb-down also means that the vast majority of booksellers will now not, in the normal course of their bookselling to schools, have to register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority.</p><p>The Booksellers Association met today (14th) with the Department for Children, Families &amp; Schools (DCFS) to clarify the implications for booksellers from the proposed Vetting &amp; Barring legislation. According to the BA, in broad terms booksellers, as well as authors, will now only have to register with the ISA if they visit a school and have contact with children if the frequency of going to a &quot;particular school&quot; is either once a week or more, or for four or more consecutive days in a 30 day period, or overnight. This change has removed about 2m people from the list of those who need to register, but still leaves 9m needing to register.</p><p>Celia Rees, chair of Children&#39;s Writers and Illustrators Group of the Society of Authors, said: &quot;Authors rarely go back to the same school more than once a year. While no one was suggesting that there shouldn&#39;t be checks on people, the VBS was taking in everyone, whether or not they worked intensively with children. We still query whether or not its necessary to introduce checks on people who work with children in this way, but our biggest concerns have been met.&quot;</p><p>Author Anne Fine told <em>The Bookseller</em> that the principle behind the scheme was still damaging: &quot;I&#39;m glad that most authors will now be able to continue to contribute to the enrichment of children&#39;s education without compromising their own rights to live their lives without such intrusive - and almost certainly futile - state interference.&quot; But she added: &quot;This is still a deeply pernicious and misguided business that is already damaging relations between adults and children, discouraging the varied social contacts that are so necessary in a child&#39;s life, and creating a deeply unpleasant and suspicious society in which most of us no longer feel comfortable. If nine million citizens are still on the list, I think it goes almost without saying that list needs pruning radically yet again.&quot;<br /><br />The government review of the scheme was launched following a public outcry against the wide-ranging ISA registration scheme, spearheaded by authors in a<em> Bookseller </em><a href="../news/90936-child-safety-checks-are-like-section-28-says-pullman.html" target="_blank">news report in July</a>. The original scheme required all those who visited schools once a month and worked with children regularly in school settings, including authors, librarians, booksellers and even parents, to be registered. Children, schools and familes secretary Ed Balls confirmed today (Monday 14th December) that only people who work with the same group of children in schools every week will need to be registered with the Independent Safeguarding Authority.</p><p>The BA said it was &quot;delighted that the relaxing of the rules will mean that booksellers will not now be caught up in legislation never intended for them and, most importantly, that the work done by booksellers in bringing books and authors to schoolchildren can continue undiminished&quot;. </p>