Schools vetting scheme to be scrapped

New Labour’s controversial vetting scheme of those working with children, including authors, has been halted.

The Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) affected nine million people working with children and vulnerable adults in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Under the scheme professional and voluntary staff working regularly with children in sectors including education had to be registered on the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) database.

The BBC reports that criminal record checks will now only be carried out on those who have intensive contact with the young, following fears that the rules were hindering volunteering and concerns about intrusiveness.

Home secretary Theresa May paused the initiative last summer and launched a review in October. She told the BBC that the proposed system was "draconian". "You were assumed to be guilty until you were proven innocent," she said.

Children’s author Philip Pullman lead a charge against the move when it was first proposed. At the time he told The Bookseller: "Naturally I shall have nothing to do with any such 'clearance', and in consequence, I suppose,  I shall never be allowed into a school again. I shall regret that very much, but I refuse to be complicit in any measure that assumes my guilt before I've done anything wrong. The proposal deserves nothing but contempt."

Author Anne Fine also described the scheme as “pernicious”: She told The Bookseller: "This is still a deeply pernicious and misguided business that is already damaging relations between adults and children."

The vetting and barring scheme had been set up in response to the murder of two schoolgirls by school caretaker Ian Huntley in Soham In 2002.