Should over-intrusive criminal checks be reduced?

New legislation in the form of a protection of freedoms bill is expected to ease the burden of criminal checks on those working with children and vulnerable adults

As Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg plans to launch a protection of freedoms bill to roll back ‘unwarranted state intrusion in private lives’, we ask whether the move could do more harm than good.

If the proposal gets the go-ahead, more than half of the nine million people working with children and vulnerable adults who previously underwent invasive criminal record checks would be free from the burden.

‘We inherited a messy criminal records regime that developed piecemeal for years and defied common sense,’ says Clegg. ‘Our reviews concluded that the systems were not proportionate and needed to be less bureaucratic. They will now be scaled back to sensible levels while protecting vulnerable people.’

The legislation will ensure that only those in sensitive posts or who haveintensive contact will children will undergo criminal record checksand monitoring through local authority surveillance powers and the police DNA database.

The controversial vetting and barring system was introduced under the previous government in the wake of the inquiry into the murders of Soham schoolgirls, Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells. Home Secretary Theresa May, however, suspended the ISA registration process last June, pending a review of the scheme.

Nick Clegg condemned the system as an assault on hard-worn British freedoms saying: ‘The coalition government is determined to hand them back to the people.’

The freedom bill, first proposed by the Deputy Prime Minister four years ago, will overhaul the regime by restricting the number of positions requiring checks and cutting down on needless bureaucracy.

Do you think the curtailing of criminal record checks is a positive move? Had the criminal vetting scheme become over-intrusive? Perhaps you think the new legislation will let criminals slip through the system? Let us know your thoughts by posting your comment below.

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