ADULTS involved in sports and social activities for children in Huddersfield have voiced fears over new crime checks.
Parents who regularly ferry groups of children to activities such as junior football or Cub Scouts will have to undergo criminal record checks – or face fines of up to £5,000.
They will fall under the scope of the Government’s new Vetting and Barring Scheme, which is aimed at stopping paedophiles getting access to children.
People who work closely with children, such as junior soccer coaches and Scouting and Guiding leaders, already undergo criminal record checks.
But now the checks could extend to people giving lifts to neighbour’s children on a regular basis and bring big problems for some groups.
Eric Kershaw, secretary of the 670-team RCD Junior Soccer League in Huddersfield said: “It is of concern.
“I can see a situation where a club manager who has been checked out will be left with 14 or 15 children to ferry to an away match but no checked volunteers available to help him.
“We brought in the CRB checks of club managers and officials years ago, at a cost of £12 a time, but today’s news could mean many more have to have checks.
“And just remember: a CRB check doesn’t mean someone has never offended, it means they have never been caught”.
Margaret Shaw, a Huddersfield Girlguiding official for many years, said leaders and regular volunteers already had checks carried out.
“People may shy away from offering to help out because of this” she said.
Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman insisted the legislation was for the right reasons.
“We all remember events like Soham, when those two little girls were murdered, and we need to take measures to stop it again.
“It may be irritating, it may be a nuisance, but the safety of children is paramount.
“There are some very evil and manipulative people out there”.
But Janice Small, prospective Tory candidate for Batley and Spen, was unhappy.
“Another quango has been set up in our name, The Independent Safeguarding Authority, whose role is, apparently, to help prevent unsuitable people from working with children.
“It means parents who offer to take children to and from rugby, football, cricket or swimming practice, will have to register with this quango to be vetted to prove they are not paedophiles.
“Why as a mother can I not organise with the club to provide a lift to children to my son’s rugby club?
“One of the effects of this diktat will be that children will see adults as potential abusers and every child is at potential risk”.
Examiner Head of News Neil Atkinson has been involved in sport in Huddersfield for years - inclduing junior teams.
Here he gives his verdict on the new proposals.
OUR children need protection.
It’s a fact no parent will ever dispute.
But new legislation calling for criminal record checks on every parent who volunteers to help out with children’s sport or social activities is a step too far.
I was the manager of a junior soccer team for five very busy but very happy years and had to be checked out for any criminal past.
It was a simple form-filling exercise but a worthwhile scheme and one that needs to continue, as I was working with children on a regular basis, on the training ground and on match days.
But the idea that all those parents who willingly helped out on a cold and wet Sunday morning by driving a group of boys to a windswept pitch in Barnsley or Brighouse need to be checked is a non-starter.
Those parents are the lifeblood of organisations such as junior football clubs or Scout groups.
They ask for nothing in return but are willing to help out as and when necessary.
They think nothing of driving out of their way to drop off someone else’s youngster at their home, to prevent the child from having to walk.
And most parents are grateful for that help, particularly if they have other commitments.
Protect children, yes, but credit parents with the intelligence to know who to trust.