I have to admit to not being a great fan of the increasing red tape which seems to face churches in a variety of areas, Health and Safety, Fire Regulations, Schedule A, B,C etc. or whatever the letters are and the move from our safeguarding system which seemed to be working well to CRB checks for an increasing range of people.
I have not felt that CRB checks are as good as some of the experts in the field of safeguarding would have us believe and being ever so slightly cynical I am not entirely sure they are not just a money making scheme for the government of the day (whoever they might be).
There are a number of issues with this whole process in my opinion.
1) the stupidity of having to have multiple CRB's for different organisations. (I know someone who has eleven – even Brian Rix could not come up with a farce like this)
2) The cost involved in having them done - especially given how tight for money some organisations are.
3) How good are they? I think they are rather like the MOT certificate on a car which is only valid on the day it is issued.
4) What do they prove - in a sense only that someone has not been caught. They certainly do not in my opinion prove that a person is not an axe murderer or multiple rapist.
5) Are the people they are meant to protect really any safer because of them? If someone wants to abuse other people they can do so with or without CRB checks.
6) Isn’t there a danger that some very long serving church members could feel their integrity is being challenged by this? Why do we need to ask a local preacher of 50 years standing who never has any involvement with children except in a worship service to submit themselves to this process? (I know it’s not here yet but mark my words it won’t be long)
7) Why is it necessary to list offences that may have been committed when someone was much younger and may have been done in a moment of silliness, especially if they are not the type of offences that are in any way relevant to working with vulnerable people. There may be people who feel they have moved on from their past lives and this type of thing only serves to rake up old stuff they may wish to forget. I am sure there is a saying about God taking our sins and burying them at the bottom of the deepest sea and then putting up a sign which says ‘No Fishing’
I have been on the safeguarding training with the Methodist church but to be honest I still remain unconvinced of the validity of these checks.Our district safeguarding officer while being very good did not really give me any clarity on how these checks really made a difference to the safety of vulnerable people. Of course the cynic in me says it is an exercise in ticking boxes but I am sure there is someone who will argue otherwise.
I do sense there is a very real possibility that we are not far away from standing on our church doors greeting people and saying do you have a CRB check? I hope I am wrong but as the insidious introduction of these checks come in it may be that we struggle to fill posts where people feel it is totally unnecessary to go through this system.