Is Our Children's Safety Being Thrown Away? EXCLUSIVE PARENTS ALARMED AT SCANDAL OF MISSING CRIMINAL RECORDS

Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England), January 21, 2007 | Go to article overview

Is Our Children's Safety Being Thrown Away? EXCLUSIVE PARENTS ALARMED AT SCANDAL OF MISSING CRIMINAL RECORDS


Byline: BY FIONNUALA BOURKE

EDUCATION chiefs have admitted they do not keep permanent records of teachers' criminal convictions.

The admission comes just six months after a report condemned schools for failing to check on paedophiles.

Birmingham City Council bosses say it is 'inevitable' that some of their classroom staff have broken the law.

But they only keep records of convictions for six months - because of restrictions imposed by the Data Protection Act.

The shocking revelations have alarmed parent groups, who fear the policy could compromise children's safety.

And Midland MP Andrew Mitchell last night said it was hard to have 'any confidence' in the ability to protect the public.

A study by education watchdog Ofsted, published last June, heavily criticised education authorities for not making proper checks on staff via the Criminal Records Bureau.

And confusion over the Data Protection Act was largely blamed for police failure to recognise Soham murderer Ian Huntley's sex offending before he killed Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

Birmingham City Council admitted it does not keep permanent records of teachers' criminal records after the Sunday Mercury asked for details of offences, in a Freedom of Information request.

But a spokesman denied that children were at risk.

"There are inevitably some teachers who have criminal convictions," he said.

"But these convictions have no bearing on the teacher's suitability to work with children, and will not compromise the safety of children.

"Teachers who have convictions which may compromise the safety of children in school - or anywhere else - are not cleared to work.

"Each case is looked at individually.

Criminal Records Bureau checks are carried out on all school employees who work with children prior to the individual taking up a post.

"If a teacher is arrested or suspected of a criminal act during employment, appropriate action is taken by the school and local authority to ensure the safety of the children. …

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