A Lichfield councillor has called for his colleagues to stand up against the red tape and the “ghosts of society”.

His comments come after the city’s Mayor Terry Thomas stood down from his role as governor of Chadsmead Primary School after he was ordered to have a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check – even though his role does not involve contact with children.

Councillor John Walker

And independent Lichfield Councillor John Walker believes his colleagues from all political parties should take a stance against “faceless rule-makers”.

He explained:

“Terry has done a great job ever since he got the job and has had my full support ever since. But this latest incident of political correctness from the faceless rule-makers is a step too far. Why should we continue to tolerate red tape such as this?

“These people are the ghosts of society – no-one knows who they are but we are all continually bound by the rules and regulations they put in front of us.

“As a result I will be asking all councillors to take a stand in support of Terry and to remind these rule-makers that we are the elected people in society and should be the decision-makers.”

Cllr Thomas explained the reasons behind his resignation, citing excessive red-tape. He told the Lichfield Mercury:

“It is just another case of this top-down, control freak government wasting school funds on checks, wasting civil service time and, worst of all, insulting people who undertake this onerous task voluntarily.”


Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

14 replies on “Lichfield councillor calls for united front against Government red tape”

  1. It is incredible that Lichfield City’s councillor Walker is opposed to ensuring School Governors are CRB checked – after all that has happened over recent months. What exactly is the problem? I’ve undergone CRB checks as a school governor, as a councillor and as someone working with older people. What’s the most important thing here – someone’s slight inconvenience or the safety of vulnerable individuals?

  2. Well i think they have point regarding to much red tape from unelected officials.
    But – the Cllrs are barking at the wrong tree on this secuirity issue.
    CRB checks to protect the vunerablee is a good idea.

  3. This is total madness. This idiotic policy will alienate Mr Thomas and thousands of decent people like him all over the country. What value does it add? The worker at the nursery in Plymouth who was convicted last month had a CRB check. What good did that do?
    Mr Thomas is known in the community – he is our Mayor for heaven’s sake. Presumably any school governor is known in the community that they are serving. If they are not then I would question why they should be a governor. We pay head-teachers significant salaries to perform an important job. So the government should trust them to exercise their judgement in doing the job. That is what we pay them for. If they are genuinely unsure let them ask for a CRB check but surely this should be a very rare exception.
    To illustrate the point, my wife worked in the same school for over 15 years, the last 3 as head-teacher before retiring. She has obviously kept in touch with her former colleagues. A few months later she was asked to do some supply work. A CRB check was needed – a complete waste of money.
    After 12 years of a control obsessed government we are all presumed guilty until we can prove our innocence and for that we are at the behest of a faceless bureaucrat who can demonise a perfectly innocent person. Don’t forget merely to have been suspected of a crime can appear on a CRB check. If you want to work for different organisations then you have to get a CRB check for each one. It is a tax on jobs at a time when we can least afford it. What makes this even more worrying is that there is now a generation of people growing up who think this is normal and just accept it. This government is destroying society – people are forced not to trust each other unless they can get a piece of paper from the government saying they are not a paedophile.

  4. NLJ – Its not total madness – i’d agree its far from perfect.
    Ian Huntley was a great example of CRB checks shortcomings – but the amount of convicted paedophiles and rapists detered by CRB checks will never show up on any statistics.

    My CRB check has to be renewed every 3 years – thats an obvious flaw.
    I’d agree the tax on jobs is wrong – if public safety is at stake – the public should pay for it rahter than the individual. A PAYE or volunteer shouldn’t subsidise public safety.

    You talk of a generation of people who may see these CRB checks as the norm,
    Well – i’ve grown up in a world where slack punishment for sex offenders is the norm.
    Some live in my neighbourhood – do you know who they are? Nope – because they’ll get firebombed.

    Sex offenders have a tendency to put themselves in a position they find favourable to thier depravity.
    Heres a recent article about charity trustees… not too disimilar role to a school governer.


    When people such as the Mayor are known to the community – CRB checks may seem unecessary.
    But its better they show good example – and then of course raise issue with flaws in the system.

    There are valid points to raise about CRB checks but there was no need for the Mayor to ‘throw his rattle out of the pram’.

  5. It used to be the case that “pillars” of the community such as priests, teachers, police officers and mayors were above suspicion. This is not the case anymore.

    The change hasn’t come about because of the “ghosts of society” have imposed it. It has come because we now know from experience that just because someone holds a position of trust and authority doesn’t mean they deserve that trust. Every year we see a handful of aged former priests or teachers etc. dragged before the courts and hear horrendous tales from victims, now adults of abuse carried out by these people and that they got away with it precisely because they held those positions of trust. They were above suspicion. Not anymore.

    It seems to me that if Terry Thomas doesn’t think he should be subject to checks because he rides around in the back of a chauffeur driven Daimler then we’re better off without him.

  6. Whatever happened to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. I can just about see the point for sexual offences against children but any other type of conviction that is spent should come back as nothing found.

    This tends to condemn people as guilty for evermore, even if the offence was a long time ago. For instance a grown man is convicted of a s3 offence against a grown women and is convicted despite denying the charge and serves a short custodial sentence. He has no further dealings with the Police at all, but 15-20 years later it is found that the women is a loon and has history for making unfounded allegations for all manner of things. Previously after the 10 years the man would have had the slate wiped clean, but now he is damned for ever more whether truly guilty or not, unless he can prove his innocence at a later date.

    At the end of the day most child abuse is a result of one family member abusing another and the system fails to pick up these people, along with those who have no previous convictions, or have not drawn any intelligence. Plenty like this were found by Ore.

    In addition when I had a CRB my existing previous employer took my name down from the name that everybody called me. (i.e on the payroll/e-mail systems). Only problem is that it was a shortened version of my real name think of doing a search for Dick Smith when the real name is Richard. Same public sector loons also issued written guidance to not physically comfort a child if you came across a distressed one during your work. I cannot show you any care despite your mother still being entangled in wreck of her car awaiting the arrival or emergency services because HR say not to comfort you. Fools and imbeciles of the highest order.

    Also they only asked for a birth certificate which may have been difficult to re-produce when issued but could easily be forged with a decent quality scanner, some photo editing software and a good colour laser printer. In fact PC World have been asked to stop selling certain machines because they are so good at forging documents.

  7. Unconcerned Citizen, my argument is based on the premise that mandatory CRB checks is the wrong tool to address the issue. It demonises everyone because of the actions of the few. This does nothing to foster a caring society or community. In my view it does the opposite. I think in your post you have addressed part of the problem “slack punishment is the norm.” If the punishment matched not only the crime, and society’s abhorrence of the crime then sentences or alternative punishments would reflect that. Isn’t it a condition of parole that you are no longer a threat to society? Therefore the people involved in the Criminal Justice System (politicians, judges and officials) should assume their responsibilities for ensuring that society is protected from guilty people by setting appropriate punishments and tariffs and not giving parole too early, rather than passing the buck to the rest of us and asking us to prove our innocence.
    I have no problem with the Mayor “throwing his rattle out of the pram”. It has created a debate. I wish our local politicians would stand up to an over bearing central government more often in order to represent us. That is what they are there for.
    The Ian Huntley case is relevant because, if I remember correctly, it was the report produced after that case which led to the current usage of CRB checks. However what should also be remembered is that Huntley would have got nowhere near Soham school had the different police forces in the area been doing their job correctly. Another case of ordinary people having to pick up the problems caused by the failings of those in authority. That said, my original post stated that in cases where someone, about whom a headteacher knew nothing and may have wanted some extra re-assurance, should have the option of carrying out a CRB check.
    Class Crisis, you also raise a valid point about priests and others in a position of responsibility. However, again, a CRB check would not have prevented most, if not all, of them from doing what they did. I suspect they would not have been convicted paedophiles when they entered the priesthood. Those tendencies are more likely to have arisen following years of celibacy and being surrounded by children and then they would have started to do what they did. I am not trying to give any excuse for their actions here but to try to understand what the trigger for their behaviour was. A CRB check when they entered the priesthood would have come back clean.
    This is the wrong tool being applied in the wrong way.

  8. Just to reinforce the points made in my earlier post, 2 stories from today’s news.
    Vanessa George, the Plymouth Nursery worker, convicted last month has now named some of the children that she abused. As I said in my original post, she will have been CRB checked and came up clean. The system did not work.
    At the same time Watford Council is not allowing parents to play with their own children in a public park unless they have a CRB. Instead they are forced to stand outside and watch their children through railings whilst they are supervised by someone they do not know, who could be another Vaneesa George.
    Just think of the impact on a young child of having to watch their parents peer through railings at them whilst they play.
    Where will this all end?

  9. That decision over the playground is ludicrous but do we have to throw the baby out with the bathwater?

    You’re right Vanessa George had been CRB checked but to follow your plan of abandoning the CRB would mean that she simply gets released, changes her name and goes working with kids again with no checks. For a less high profile abuser no name change is necessary. Is that really a good idea?

    Terry Thomas is way off mark and I bet he’s delighted at the support he’s got from John Walker.

  10. CRB checks are innefective at stopping paedophiles with no previous criminal history.
    A lot of paedophiles attack family/friends children.
    But CRB checks are effective at preventing convicted sex offenders from reoffending.
    I’d be happy to hang them – but what is being suggested instead?

    Towns and cities are to large nowadys to know everyone in the local community.

    Making exceptions to the rule for ‘known’ people is a gaping hole that could be exploited by paedophile rings givin each other references

  11. Gastank – only information relevant to the job being applied for comes back. Particularly sexual offences.
    I agree that people shouldn’t be punished again for other spent offences.

  12. There are two things that are wrong with the CRB system at the moment.
    1. They are done for activities that involve no more exposure to children and vulnerable adults than everyday life. 2. They bring up one off cautions and soft information years after most of which do not relate child abuse. I’ve seen CRB checks being asked for traffic engineers, for lease agreements and volunteers who move chairs around a multi-aged event. Why should someone who has been going straight for most their life and has one or two minor cautions suddenly find themselves loosing their job five years after, or not being able to put a roof over their head.
    Should people be in trouble for decades as a result of once being drunk and disorderly? Its time the CRB allowed most of the 1 in 4 people in the UK with a criminal record with no intention of reoffending to move on, and got back to safeguarding children and vulnerable adults from really dangerous people. Who agrees?

  13. love it ” faceless rule makers” another john walker classic, why would anybody have an objection to a crb check uless of course they have somthing to hide…..

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