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April 02, 2006

CRB Checking

A year or two ago, the House of Bishops or the General Synod or somebody like that decided to implement a new set of rules for dealing with children withing the church. They drafted a document entitled "Protecting All God's Children," which can be found here. One of the most contentious issues is that it requires practically anybody who is involved in the training or teaching of children to be checked by the Criminal Records Bureau, or "CRB Checked."

This was also applied to bellringers. There's been a discussion raging on the Change-Ringers email list, and I posted the following message. The "two adults per learner" rule referred to is the idea that there should always be two adults present when a young person arrives.
I find myself very amused by all the discussion about CRB checking. I first starting learning to ring at the age of 16 3/4. At this time I was also officially the Assistant Director of Music at the church, and was a keyholder in that capacity. Looking back, there were several practices at this age when I would be the first there and open the church up. I'm not sure how this was meant to tally with the idea of "two adults per learner." Maybe the adults were meant to wait outside the church until there were two of them to come and meet me.

At about 17 2/3, I passed my driving test. This leaves four months during which time I'd be giving lifts to practices and outings. Just think of the risks I was taking, in my own car, driving round these people.

That's why I'll always find the whole concept silly. If, at age 17, I'm deemed responsible enough to drive a car, how is it that when I get in the tower I'm not allowed to be left alone with another adult, even if I've known them for years?
The most bizarre situations crop up when two people are in a relationship, one of whom being over 18 and the other just under. Presumably they aren't allowed to be left unsupervised in a tower according to the rules. If the age of consent is set at 16, why are all the CRB rules set for 18?

Luckily many PCCs seem to have taken great advantage of common sense in this regard. Hopefully the trend will continue.

Of course the other great point is that CRB checking can only bring up information about a persons sins in the past, not in the future. Maybe every tower has a psychopathic paedophile in its ranks, but they haven't acted on the impulse yet.

Many critics argue that the plan is less about protecting God's children, and more about protecting his workers from spurious accusations of abuse.

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