Houghton and Sunderland South MP, Bridget Phillipson has spoken out against the Government’s decision not to fix a loophole in the ‘Protection of Freedoms Bill’ which charities have warned could put children at ‘risk’.
Children’s charity, the NSPCC, has warned a loophole in the bill allows for schools not to be told whether a prospective volunteer has been barred from working with children. Page 4 of NSPCC’s briefing to MPs states:
“A person might be barred from regulated activity, but would then be able to move into non regulated activity with children without sanction and without employers necessarily being alerted to the risk they pose. For example, someone barred from teaching because of inappropriate relationships with young people could become a voluntary teaching assistant.”
Bridget raised the concerns of many schools and the NSPCC in Parliament. She asked Government Minister Lynne Featherstone:
“Will the Minister explain why a school will not be told whether a prospective volunteer has been barred from working with children, and why her Government are creating a loophole that the NSPCC says will put children at risk?”
Ms Featherstone replied:
“There are no loopholes in the Bill. The barring scheme will continue to cover all those in day-to-day, unsupervised contact with children, and those working in supervised positions will still be eligible for Criminal Records Bureau checks.”
Commenting after Home Office questions, Bridget said:
“When respected children’s charities, like the NSPCC, and schools up and down the country express their concerns the government should stop and listen.
“This is just one in a very long line of incidencewhich highlights the cavalier attitude the Tory-led government has for public safety. By choosing to weaken powers on DNA, CCTV, scrapping ASBOs and cutting over 650 Police and Police Community Support Officers in Northumbria, the Tory-led government is making it increasingly difficult for the Police to keep communities safe.”