Phased start for blacklist

8th August 2003 at 01:00
AROUND 100,000 voluntary youth workers may be given more time to come to terms with plans to vet them to work with clubs and groups. There have been complaints that the new system would be unworkable without extra cash and training.

As Scottish Executive ministers this week issued guidance on creating a national list of banned adults, it emerged that the myriad of national and local voluntary groups may not initially be asked to conform to the child protection legislation due to be introduced next spring.

The Executive has taken several years to draft new laws to outlaw adults who could pose a risk to young people and is prepared to wait a little longer to get it right in the voluntary sector, the area that spawned Thomas Hamilton, the Dunblane killer.

Voluntary groups have repeatedly told ministers that local leaders, who might give one or two nights a week to clubs, need support, training and guidance before they can begin to comply.

For the first time, it will be an offence for a person on the list to attempt to work with children in a paid or voluntary capacity. Voluntary groups will commit an offence if they fail to check against the list held by Disclosure Scotland.

Numbers expected to be referred list could be between 20 and 30 a year, it was suggested during the passage of the Bill in the Scottish Parliament.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland can refer teachers to the list once it has removed them from the register.

Euan Robson, Deputy Education Minister, said: "It plugs the gap in existing safeguards which could allow people who have been found unsuitable to work with children in the past, but not convicted of an offence, to move from one post to another."

Jim Duffy, chief executive of the Scottish Council of the Scout Association, confirmed that the voluntary sector would be meeting with the Executive next week to make sure the guidance is practical and easy to implement for local leaders "without significant costs".

WHAT IT MEANS

* "An organisation will have a duty to make a referral to Scottish ministers if a person working in a childcare position harms a child or puts a child at risk of harm and is dismissed or moved away from access to children as a consequence," the Executive states.

"A person in a childcare position who harms a child or puts a child at risk of harm and would have been dismissed if they had not resigned, retired, been made redundant or left at the end of a temporary contract, must also be referred."

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