Parents say blacklist is no protection

THE Soham and Dunblane tragedies would not have been prevented by the Scottish Executive's planned blacklist, parents told MSPs on the education, culture and sport committee during its first day of evidence gathering in Glasgow.

Two weeks ago Cathy Jamieson, Education Minister, said the Protection of Children (Scotland) Bill struck the right balance between protecting children and allowing them to enjoy the innocence of childhood, but parents believe rogue adults could easily avoid the new legislation.

Joanne Beaumont, chair of Hillhead primary and secondary school boards, said the Bill would not cover volunteers such as Thomas Hamilton, the Dunblane gunman.

She said: "It's right and proper we do have a list of unsuitable people but I do not think you can ever legislate against certain types of harm and evil."

Three-quarters of known abusers are likely to be the natural parents and a fraction of them are known people outside the family. The Bill was an overreaction.

It would not cover private tutors and some school staff. "I am not convinced this will be effective in picking up many more people. High-profile cases have come about because people have not followed good practice," Dr Beaumont said.

Her concerns were echoed by Mike Russell, the SNP's spokesman. No one was opposed to the principles of the Bill but its detail would place many adults on a list, although they had never been convicted of any offence, and seriously affect their lives, Mr Russell said.

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