Truth must out

10th July 1998 at 01:00
One of the paradoxes of human existence is that we have disasters to thank for making our lives safer. Attending football matches is less hazardous because of the regulations introduced after the Hillsborough disaster. Cross-Channel travel has involved fewer risks since the Herald of Free Enterprise sank in Zeebrugge harbour.

We must therefore hope that the murder of Billie-Jo Jenkins by a foster father who fabricated his teaching qualifications will lead to more careful vetting of those entrusted with the care of children.

Clearly there are bitter lessons here, not only for fostering agencies but for the education service. Schools and local authorities do often check the credentials of newly-qualified teachers. But only a minority of employers, such as Lancashire County Council, require all successful candidates to present their certificates before confirming appointments. This should now become obligatory everywhere.

What's more, employers should be legally obliged to consult List 99 - the Government document listing teachers barred or restricted from working with under-19s.

Billie-Jo died needlessly; but her murder must now serve a useful purpose in safeguarding others.

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