Councillor defends CRB checks on school governors

Cllr Steve Norman

Cllr Steve Norman

A councillor has claimed CRB checks are an “unfortunate necessity” after Lichfield’s Mayor resigned his position as a school governor after being told he required one.

Terry Thomas quit as a governor at Chadsmead Primary School over what he claimed was “wasteful red tape” – a view echoed by Lichfield District Councillor John Walker (Ind, Curborough).

But now a Burntwood councillor has claimed there is no alternative to the CRB checks.

Cllr Steve Norman (Lab, Summerfield) said:

“It’s better to be safe than sorry on issues like child protection. Yes, it’s unfortunate that we have to go through these sort of checks, but it is the minority in society who make it an unfortunate necessity.

“I’d love for us not to need these checks in the same way it would be lovely if we could all drive around without speed limits, but there are people in society who mean we need these sort of things in place.”

Suggestions have been made that the checks – which are currently at the discretion of the school, but are due to become compulsory – could lead to a decline in the number of people wanting to become governors.

But Cllr Norman, who is himself a school governor, does not believe that will be the case. He said:

“I’ve not heard of any sudden shortage of people wanting to be a governor at any schools. These checks are completely confidential and are only in place for the protection of children.

“I’ve had a number of checks because of the different areas I’m involved in and you just have to understand why they are needed.

“I know people will have different views on why they don’t want them carried out, but parents will have a very different view.”

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

3 Comments

  1. Jayne Howarth

    29th October, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    This is a tricky subject, because while I think we tend to go too far when it comes to these checks, another part of me understands you can’t be too careful when it is your child’s safety at stake.

    I am a school governor and a former member of the PTA. Parents’ Association members should be checked, according to the NCPTA. I have nothing to worry about – I had my CRB and that was it. I received my certificate. Job done.

    If the same has to be done as a school governor, then fine. I assume the school will pay for it, seeing as I give up a large amount of my time being a governor  a voluntary position. I don’t know how much it costs a school to have CRB checks carried out (is it the same as an individual?), but it could cost the school quite a lot of money if PTA members and governors are all asked to undertake a CRB. 

    The question is, where do we draw the line?

  2. Unconcerned Citizen

    29th October, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    There is too much red tape and beaurocracy nowadays – this is too much of a nanny state – but protecting the vunerable from sex offenders is what we are talking about here – other issues shouldn’t come into the equation – thats a straw man argument.

    I don’t care about other offences with which corporations are suffocating the CRB system, with thier checks for ‘previous criminal history’ – such as shoplifting, breach of the peace or the odd pub brawl.

    The sex offenders register only goes back to 1997 – so all sorts of phone calls and checks of paper records has too be made.
    Why not make a comprehensive record system of sex offenders that can only be applied to vetting positions where vunerable people are at risk.
    Im talking of a computerised database like what the police have for motorists and mot, tax, and insurance.
    That database is quite new – it works and the roads are getting safer every day. The police can spot tax/mot/insurance dodger before they have even pulled the car over.
    Thats a great application of technology which is not occuring with CRB checks.

    CRB checks are labour and therefore cost intensive – direct that labour into creating a comprehensive database and its constant updating and we have a system that works and a CRB check is a quick database enquiry – rather than 12 weeks and wasting police time.
    People who have the CRB check are entered into a vunerability database – New offences can be cross referenced with those on the vunerability database and if a match is made – the person can be removed from the position.

    The system may be faulty so lets make it better rather than throwing it away.

    I’m right behind Mayor Terry Thomas and Cllr John Walkers ‘Stamp out Beaurocracy” campaign.

  3. Colin Ablitt

    31st October, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    I feel that this blog is missing the point. Unfortunatley thos who would threaten our children can organise themselves into very complex webs. These are not stupid people. School Governors can be responsible for employing members of school staff. Also School Governors oversee the financial arrangements of the school. Again a CRB would identify those with financial dishonesty in their history. It is not just to do with having contact with children