Call to scrap child vetting system
The Government must scrap the vetting system for people working with children and vulnerable adults or risk creating a broader culture of fear that will "poison the relationship between the generations", a think-tank has said.
The atmosphere of suspicion created by the vetting and barring scheme (VBS) decimates the Government's Big Society concept and "actually increases the risks to children", Civitas said.
But charities warned that while it may be nicer to believe the scheme was not needed, and while it "might be unpleasant to stomach", in reality it is "necessary to protect our children".
Home Secretary Theresa May called a temporary halt to the "draconian" vetting scheme in June as she launched a review, saying it was time to return to a more "common sense" approach which did not risk alienating volunteers doing valuable work.
Civitas said it must be replaced with a "greater openness and more frequent contact between the generations".
"If the Government fails to halt the VBS, the scheme will continue to poison the relationship between the generations, intersecting a broader culture of fear, which creates a formal barrier between adults and children," a Civitas spokesman said.
Problems include more than 12,000 innocent people being labelled as paedophiles, violent thugs and thieves through an error, councils banning parents from playgrounds saying only vetted "play rangers" would be allowed in, and parents running into difficulties when trying to share the responsibilities of the school run, Civitas said.
Frank Furedi and Jennie Bristow, authors of Licensed To Hug which calls for the scheme to be scrapped, said: "The VBS has interfered with parents' ability to make private arrangements, subjected a quarter of the population to intensive scrutiny of their personal lives, discouraged volunteering, and institutionalised mistrust between the generations."
But children's charity Barnardo's warned that the scheme was needed to protect children, with chief executive Martin Narey saying: "There is a need for some adjustment in the margins to ensure the vetting and barring scheme does not interfere with informal arrangements between families.
"But, much as it might be unpleasant to stomach, this scheme is necessary to protect our children, as adults who seek to harm children can be uniquely manipulative in gaining positions of trust."