I think whatever the procedures adopted by the Independent Safeguarding Agency (ISA), cases of unfair and excessive processing of personal data will be the likely outcome in future. The reason: the ISA’s check uses the wrong criteria.
The BBC’s web-site today explains that “The Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) will now involve only those working with the same children once a week, not once a month, for example” and that “the new rules will apply to about two million fewer people”.
The frequency of contact, I would argue, should not be the main risk criteria for a vetting check. The important risk factors are: the quality of unsupervised contact with children; the likelihood of such contact being lengthy in time; and whether such contact is in private and on a one-to-one basis (or in some cases one-to-very few basis).
That is why the much publicised case of authors reading their work at different schools is so illuminating. There is frequent contact with children but very little of such contact is unsupervised in the way described above. So why the need for an ISA criminal check at all? Changing the rules with respect to “frequency of contact” do not directly relate to the real risk factors: the nature of such contact.
In addition, paedophile Vanessa George would have sailed through the ISA’s comprehensive vetting system because there was no record of her involvement in such activities; as I argued before, checking once with the ISA is not a substitute for vigilance by other adults working with children.
In summary, not a significant change.
(1) Blog of 02/10/2009 concerning Vanessa George: "Are data retention policies misguided?" (http://amberhawk.typepad.com/amberhawk/2009/10/are-data-retention-policies-misguided.html).
(2) Blog of 14/09/2009 dealing with "Vetted volunteers to “volunteer” fingerprints and obtain a “voluntary” ID Card?". (http://amberhawk.typepad.com/amberhawk/2009/09/vetted-volunteers-to-volunteer-fingerprints-and-obtain-a-voluntary-id-card.html)