Last week, the boy Puddlecote's school e-mailed their regular newsletter. At the end of the sterile but cheery message was a plea for parent participation.
"The children are always pleased when parents hear them sing at our assembly shows, so please come along if you can. Remember to bring your CRB checks with you"Now, I'm CRB checked but was working. However, there are plenty others who would be able to attend but have never required clearance from the CRB in work or voluntary activities. And seeing as the process, in my experience, can take up to three months, anyone without clearance who wished to attend was effectively barred on the remote premise that they might be a paedophile.
Sorry if that appears simplistic, but how else can one view it? Guilty until proven innocent by the state machine.**
Even if I had been able to turn up, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have done as I don't like the implication that I am required to produce documents to prove I am safe to watch my child at his school.
Similar requests for help at school events have carried the same eligibility criteria, which is why they struggle to stage the fucking things at times.
Imagine a scenario where you see an old lady struggling with heavy shopping bags and decide to offer your help. You don't have to, but are a kind sort and feel that it's the community-spirited thing to do. Then imagine she says she would very much welcome a hand but she wants to see proof that you're not a criminal first.
I don't know about you, but I'd bid her a polite good day and leave the ungrateful bitch to wear her old bones out dragging her kippers and lard home. Likewise if I offered someone my seat on a bus and they sniffily asked to see my medical record before they risked it ... they would remain standing for the rest of their journey. In fact, considering I'm fit and well and able to get myself home by any means, even jogging if I feel like it, I might even pass my stop just to keep the anti-social bastard on their feet longer.
Tim Gill, writing at CiF, encapsulated all such thoughts of mine with this.
All the fundamental questions remain. [...] most profoundly, about the wider implications of living in a society in which casual, freely given offers of help are met not with appreciation but with deep suspicion.This is where Labour have taken us. To a very dark place in which kindness is frowned upon unless given with government sanction; where we are all encouraged to view others as criminals and perverts unless a piece of paper says otherwise.
If the next government is serious about repairing the broken respect for others in this country, they should start by scrapping the CRB system entirely. It might also stop the rest of Europe laughing at us (because they do) for treating everyone as a potential pervert.
It's a good piece by Gill, well worth a read in its entirety if you haven't already.
** Even though one of the vilest child abusers of recent years was cleared by the CRB.