The Independent Safeguarding Authority: yet another flawed database.

How much more of this nonsense? Will folk dancing with children soon be banned?

Two days after this webpage was first loaded onto SeeRed, the Independent newspaper carried an article about the Independent Safeguarding Authority (no connection!) - the newest of the UK government quangos whose long term aim is probably to have virtually every adult in the UK on one of its databases. The first estimates are for 11 to 14 million adults to be 'registered'. There will be little or no increase in child protection - just a huge increase in snooping, suspicion, paranoia and jobs for the boys and girls (complete with index linked pensions no doubt!). Famous children's authors are protesting at the stupidity and cost of the scheme and the warped message it sends to both children and society in general. The story was extensively covered on BBC Radio 4 on 16 July 2009.

Here are links to the main story on the Independent, and the on-line discussion:

On 11 September 2009, the Daily Mail newspaper in the UK made the ISA their front page story. Their coverage was rather 'tabloid' (as you might expect), but it seemed to enrage Mail readers - who listed hundreds of comments castigating waste of public money and self-serving quangos.

It is well known that most so called 'child abuse' (a term that covers a wide range of behaviours) occurs within families and particularly involving stepfathers. Most over-reaction to the problem is centred upon the much smaller risks involving persons unknown to the child. One of the Labour government's more absurd responses in 2008/9 was to propose the 'Contact' database - holding the details of every child in the country and accessible to a huge range of variously nosy, malevolent, incompetent or downright vindictive local and central government staff.

Of course - none of the people who it is proposed would have access to the database would ever seek to misuse it - or leave a copy on a train, encrypted or otherwise. Such failings are wholly unknown both in local and central government. And no ministers or MPs would ever be financially associated with the companies who would reap large rewards for setting up the scheme and administering it. The Tories have proposed to scrap the project if they come to power in 2010 - which at least shows that an Eton education can leave you with a few working brain cells.

The logic is that events involving 'human nature' will continue to happen from time to time. No amount of planning and expenditure can likely prevent them. Saturating society with measures that might (might) prevent a recurrence of a 'one-off' event on the basis that 'we will never again allow this to happen' can constitute a huge waste of resources. It is sensible to plan to avert disasters that are both foreseeable and likely to happen one day (cars or caravans running down hill when they are not parked properly, for example) but fear of 'child abuse', especially within local government, has gone well beyond what is reasonable - and has led to huge injustices being inflicted upon innocent parents. Even parents taking photographs of their own children in a public park have been arrested.

More will be published on this in another section of SeeRed, but for now consider the possible effects upon folk dance and folk festivals in general if over-reaction and politically correct misuse of 'Elf and Safety' risk assessments is allowed to continue.

Almost daily, there are stories of children being prevented from having a 'normal' development (which would consist of contact with people other than parents!) and of fetes and events being cancelled or curtailed in some way. Egg and spoon races have been cancelled. Even having spectators at a sports day has been prohibited - see report below.

Indeed, even having sports day at all might be considered a risk - children would be out of doors and vulnerable to a sniper. They should therefore be kept indoors, behind doors fitted with CCTV and windows fitted with bullet proof glass - or maybe no windows at all so no-one could see them.

At folk festivals, normal people (and a few strange ones) mix freely together. Festivals are probably one of the last places where this is possible in contemporary English society. Children get lost from time to time and seem invariably to be found. Nowadays, even many older members of the public would hesitate to offer to help a child who appeared to be in distress or about to cross a busy road unaided - out of fear of being arrested for molestation by an overzealous female teenager in a police uniform.

Alarming events do occur at folk festivals. Children are allowed to dance with adults they do not know. A government committee should be set up immediately to recommend changes in legislation. How long before all dance with children is banned? It may not be long - if only because so many careers in the grossly inflated public sector are now dependent upon fostering fear and suspicion. A compromise could be that every adult dancing with a child should be followed closely and filmed by a council employee. Every dance move could then be closely scrutinised to make sure there was never any improper contact. The films would be kept for 10 years and reviewed annually by senior child welfare staff. Think of the job opportunities and the free tickets to festivals!

isa google image.jpg (52893 bytes)  

At one of my local folk clubs, we have had to decree for our own legal protection that no unaccompanied child (defined as under the age of 18!) can participate in any of our dance evenings - unless accompanied at all times by a parent or guardian. This followed a few problems with village youngsters.

In October 2009 new requirements from the Independent Safeguarding Authority come into force in the UK - yet another quango that should have been strangled at birth. Google listed over a million references even before implementation of the scheme.

The EFDSS are issuing guidance too.

Read the Press report below from which this quote is taken:

"If we let parents into the school they would be free to roam the grounds. All unsupervised adults must be kept away from children".

So now all adults must be supervised at all times by a council employee?

Even worse, (and actually a serious issue) anyone can buy a day camping ticket to many festivals and gain access to an area where children are wandering around singly or in groups and at night, and sometimes out of sight of their parents. How long before every campsite has to have CCTV, barbed wire and biometric identity cards? Festivals (and especially Sidmouth) are already being crushed under 'Elf and Safety' requirements. For example, other festivals holding pub ceilidhs do not have to employ the number of security guards seen at the Anchor in Sidmouth. Some seem not to need them at all. This is probably a consequence of different requirements by local councils.

Since most child abuse apparently occurs in families, the most effective way of minimising it would surely be to ban families - and especially stepfathers. All children would be brought up in secure council-run accommodation - places where children have never been harmed in any way. This would also ensure they all had the same miserable start in life - surely a worthy objective for politically correct social workers? The Baby P case alone (see report below) has likely resulted in hundreds of new appointments and committees - yet there will be little or no diminution in appalling abuse until people who are patently unsuitable to be parents are paid not to breed - not an issue the PC classes are likely to address!

These press cuttings are a few of hundreds that could be reproduced. It has been reported that bunting along the Esplanade at Sidmouth during Folk Week has been banned by the authorities - I don't know if this is true but it would be par for the course!

coffee cup risk.jpg (30552 bytes) bunting.jpg (94113 bytes) From the Sunday Telegraph June 28th 2009.

Similar stories have been reported from other libraries. (add Oxford cutting)


From the Daily Telegraph 4 July 2009

Apologies for poor scanning - I'll redo them sometime.


sports day orig.jpg (127000 bytes) family courts 600.jpg (259535 bytes)

From the Telegraph, Saturday July 4 2009, and Sunday July 5 2009

As the story continued to be reported in the newspapers (here on 18 July in the Telegraph)
some of the costs and implications became clearer:

isa vetting costs.jpg (69434 bytes)

There have been a large number of reports about quite normal families being broken up and children being dragged kicking and screaming into care - on the orders of thuggish social workers and the police ('partners in protection' as they call themselves these days). I'll devote more space elsewhere on this website shortly - the common theme is overpaid thugs having been given far too much power. There are also no accountability or oversight systems in place to restrain the paranoia of some of these local government zealots.

On 19 August 2009 there was a lot of discussion in the UK about the death of a youngster in Scotland - beaten to death by his stepfather and with the drug-addicted mother also maybe culpable of child neglect. Amidst all the predictable tabloid hype there was an interesting statistic - at least 400,000 children in the UK are being brought up by drug-abusing parents. Many of these children might do better if raised in a drug-free (and tobacco free) foster care environment - to say nothing of how better they might be if not allowed to sit in front of television for hours on end each day.

And where do you find 400,000 sets of normal (or even abnormal) foster parents? The scale of the problem is simply huge - and yet local authority staff and the police spend their time on cases where there is no serious risk to children at all. Why? Because they can fulfil their quotas for cases investigated whilst doing the minimum amount of work! Some scanned articles are on another webpage (add link). A later webpage in this series details more fully the self-serving characteristics of UK police forces.

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