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On the naughty step - Conduct that deserves a ticking off

This week: paranoid CRB-checkers

Paranoia about adult "strangers" being near children has gone too far. Yes, a few high-profile cases have made the news this week. But the poet Scroobius Pip had it right when he commanded: "Thou shalt not think that any male over the age of 30 that plays with a child that is not their own is a paedophile; some people are just nice."

Yet some schools have fed this paranoia with their attitude to Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks. The rule seems pretty simple: unless an adult is going to be left entirely on their own with some kids who are not theirs, that adult does not need a CRB check.

So if, say, an author or a theatre company goes into a school, they won't need one. But that has not stopped some jumpy schools from demanding one. The latest to fall into the trap is Isambard Community School in Swindon, pilloried in the press this week for demanding CRB checks from parent spectators at sports fixtures.

It insists the story was a mix-up: it was really trying to stop parents tromping through the school grounds instead of using an alternative car park. But it admitted giving parents and the press "outdated" information that clearly stated they needed the check.

So, for adding to the media stereotype that schools are run by box-tickers, we send paranoid CRB-checkers to the naughty step. We run no background checks there.

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