HC Deb 23 July 1985 vol 83 cc464-5W
Mr. Shersby

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is yet able to announce the conclusions of his review of the disclosure of information on the criminal background of those seeking positions which would give them substantial access to children; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Brittan

I have received the first report of the review, a copy of which has been placed in the Library. The report recommends a wide extension of the arrangements for checking the criminal background of those seeking to work with children and improvements in the arrangements for reporting convictions for offences committed after engagement. The proposed scheme would apply in the first instance to those seeking to work in the statutory sector, whether on a paid or voluntary basis, arid would enable senior nominated staff of the relevant statutory bodies to make thorough checks on any criminal record through local police forces. Applicants would be asked to disclose in advance any convictions or cautions recorded against them, and to agree in writing to the check being made.

I welcome the proposals in the report, which provide a valuable basis for improving the protection of children. My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Health and Social Services, for Education and Science and for Wales and I will now hold urgent consultations with interested organisations, with a view to bringing new arrangements into early effect. My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Northern Ireland will also be considering what implications the report may have for their own disclosure arrangements.

While these consultations are taking place, the review will proceed to consider what checking arrangements might suitably be introduced to cover those working in the voluntary sector, with the aim of submitting a second report before the end of the year.

The new arrangements will be on a non-statutory basis, but I am confident that they can be made to work effectively for the benefit of the children they are designed to protect, while at the same time providing appropriate safeguards for those who will be the subject of checks. But I should be willing to consider introducing legislation if experience shows that it is required.