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Nurses to face criminal vetting

Every nurse and doctor in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will have to register to undergo criminal record checks as they are in regular contact with children, or face fines of up to £5,000.

The government's new Vetting and Barring scheme, aimed at preventing paedophiles gaining access to children, is expected to require the registration of around 11.3 million people with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

The ISA, the Home Office agency administering the scheme, can press for criminal prosecution and a court fine should an individual fail to register. The new rules also affect parents who regularly ferry children to sports or social clubs, teachers, dentists, school governors and prison officers.

The scheme has come in after the Birchard report into school caretaker Ian Huntley's murders of the Soham children Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. The checks will involve unprecedented delving into a subject's personal and employment history and be the largest of its kind in the world.

Information from the police, professional bodies and employers will be passed on to two hundred case workers based at the ISA in Darlington, who will then rule on who is barred. Even those without criminal records, like Huntley, could be barred if officials are convinced by "soft intelligence" against them.

The number of people facing a ban could double to 40,000 once the scheme is under way. Everyone registered with the agency will face continued monitoring, and existing registrations may be reconsidered in light of new evidence, making the list unique from other lists of barred individuals.

Employers giving sensitive information to those already barred could face criminal penalties, including jail terms. The new scheme comes into force in October.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Independent Safeguarding Authority

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"With regard to nurses working in hospitals and in the community there will always be more than one nurse and further one or both of the child/children's parent will be present. I believe the purpose being to increase revenue for the government by a quango body that is to be set up to administer the scheme and certainly not in the interest or the protection of anyone. There are enough safeguards in place the problem being monitoring. This is an extension of the so-called nanny state. Has society lost its way?" - V Henry, London

"I think that the scheme is probably a minimum necessary to gain the public confidence because of the dreadful things that have been dome over the years by people who would normally be trusted members of the public. However there are many paedophiles not on criminal records so people should not believe that everyone NOT on the record is normal. (I do
believe that paedophiles are NOT normal humans). Having said that for our own protection as well as that of the public we never see children without a parent or guardian, nor do we see a vulnerable adult in the GP practice without their carer" - Lesley Williamson, Newcastle

"Nanny state gone mad as in primary care we only see children with the parent present" - Chris Baylis, London