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UK's new child protection plans

Education secretary will publish a bill whereby employers will have access to online database of names of adults who have been convicted or cautioned for sex offences.

india Updated: Mar 01, 2006 20:06 IST
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Schools will be able to check the records of teachers under new plans to be announced on Wednesday aimed at closing a loophole that allowed sex offenders to work with children.

Employers will have access to a new online database which holds the names of adults who have been convicted or cautioned for sex offences.

The change in law follows a furious row earlier this year over how some registered sex offenders had been granted dispensation to teach in schools.

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly will publish the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill, which will tighten the vetting system by creating a single list of people barred from working with children.

All barring decisions will be made by an independent body and not by ministers, as was previously the case. People placed on the list will also have the right to appeal.

The Education Department would also work with the Home Office and the Criminal Records Bureau to improve and standardise police record-keeping and information-sharing.

Implementation of the scheme will begin in 2007 and 2008.

Children's Minister Beverley Hughes told BBC Radio the new rules would "completely transform" the system.

It would create a unified, central system that was "simple to operate and will ensure, as far as any system can, that employers ... have all the information in real time," she said.

A review in January found 10 cases since 1997 where ministers had decided not to put registered sex offenders on the Department of Education's so-called List 99 which bars people from working with children.

The question of sex offenders working near children is a sensitive one in Britain following the 2002 Soham murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman by Ian Huntley who had got a job as a college caretaker on the same grounds as the girls' primary school.

Police checks had failed to reveal he was a suspected sex offender. The new vetting proposals arose from the Bichard inquiry which was set up to examine the Soham murders.