Friday, November 26, 2010

British flower arrangers and bell ringers fighting crazy criminal vetting of anyone who works near children

The British take to bureaucracy like ducks to water but a few rebel

Last January, Annabel Hayter, chairwoman of Gloucester Cathedral Flower Guild, received an email saying that she and her 60 fellow flower arrangers would have to undergo a CRB check. CRB stands for Criminal Records Bureau, and a CRB check is a time-consuming, sometimes expensive, pretty much always pointless vetting procedure that you must go through if you work with children or ‘vulnerable adults’.

Everyone else had already been checked: the ‘welcomers’ at the cathedral door; the visitors’ guides; the whole of the cathedral office (though they rarely left their room). The flower guild was all that remained. The cathedral authorities expected no resistance. Though the increasing demand for ever tighter safety regulation has become one of the biggest blights on Britain today, we are all strangely supine: frightened not to comply.

But not so Annabel Hayter. ‘I am not going to do it,’ she said. And her act of rebellion sparked a mini-­revolution among the other cathedral flower ladies. In total, she received 30 letters from guild members who judged vetting to be either an invasion of privacy (which it ­certainly is), insecure (the CRB has a frightening ­tendency to return the wrong results), or unnecessary (they are the least likely paedophiles in the country). Several women threatened to resign if forced to undergo it.

Thus began the battle of Gloucester Cathedral, between the dean and the flower guild — a battle which is just reaching its final stage. First the guild asked why the checks were necessary. The answer turned out to be that the flower arrangers shared a toilet with the choirboys, and without checks there would be ‘paedophiles infiltrating the flower guild’.

The ladies of the guild snorted with derision — and the cathedral retaliated with another burst of pointless bureaucracy. It carried out a risk assessment on the guild, which was completed in early October.

When Hayter asked to see the assessment, she was told that this was ‘private information for the chapter and the council’ — but she still wasn’t cowed: ‘Why? It’s a risk assessment on us! We must surely be entitled to see it?’

While Annabel Hayter has become the figurehead of the growing resistance to the CRB, she and her guild are not alone. All over the country, brave volunteers are ­digging in their toes.

Lord Vinson, who acts as warden in the church of Ilderton, Northumberland, is another who refuses to be vetted. He says the CRB ­procedure is not just pointless, but dangerous, offering ‘an illusion of protection, an illusion of safety’ — and at huge public cost. Checks, he says, are ‘turning off sound volunteers, and encouraging children to distrust all adults’.

So far Lord Vinson has received a severe letter saying that the bishop is ‘very disappointed in your attitude’; ultimately, he will probably be asked to resign.

Though the Church as an institution has become horribly infected with CRB madness, with a love of petty regulations and procedures, there are members of the resistance within it. The former Bishop of Durham, Dr Tom Wright, has delivered a broadside against ­‘hysterical’ CRB checks.

Dr Wright realised he had to take a stand when he discovered his 80-year-old assistant filling in a CRB form, ready to present her ID documents to the very church she had served all her adult life.

Jeremy Hummerstone, a reverend of Great Torrington, Devon, held out for months against his archdeacon’s demands that he be ­vetted. ‘I’ve been in the parish a long time,’ he said, ‘and I took strong exception to being asked to go through with this. ‘We don’t need all these rules. They should use their common sense — as I use mine.’

It was when Mr Hummerstone retired and moved to Yorkshire that they finally caught up with him. The Exeter Child Protection Adviser reported him to the Independent Safeguarding Authority, saying that he ‘persistently or ­recklessly failed to comply with the safeguarding policies and procedures of the organisation’.

This is the hallmark of CRB madness: it persuades even sensible, decent people to behave in the most ridiculous ways. It puffs up their self-esteem with an ­important-sounding title, then encourages them to use a slew of petty laws at their disposal to ­punish disobedience.

Every Church of England and Roman Catholic diocese has at least one full-time safeguarding officer (or adviser), who sits on panels with Orwellian-sounding names such as the ‘Multi-Agency Diocesan Safeguarding Management Group’ or the ‘Risk Assessment Panel’ of the ‘Diocesan Safeguarding Reference Group’.

Each church parish must also appoint a child safeguarding co-ordinator, with responsibilities to ‘monitor the implementation of diocesan guidance’ at a local level.

This structure does little to stop incidents of child abuse, but is highly effective at micromanaging the everyday activities of church workers and volunteers. ‘In a way, the CRB has become a new religious axiom,’ says Mr Hummerstone.

He is quite right. These officers seem to occupy a position some way above worldly or religious authority. But the crucial point — and the reason we need a resistance — is that their power is growing.

Very few of these rules come from central government or the law. Yes, they originate from government guidelines (cooked up in response to the Soham murders), but they have spread like a virus through institutions; fuelled by power-hungry bureaucrats, panic, fear and a collective sacrifice of common sense.

Institutions have invented their own child-protection case law. When Tom Addiscott, a church ­volunteer (and professor), refused to be CRB checked to help out with his church’s ‘Tots and Teddies’, he was told that it was ‘the law’ that he be vetted every five years. But there is no law that says this. Other organisations believe firmly that CRB checks are required every two or three years.

There is now a ‘safeguarding ­procedure’ for everything from ‘safe photography’ at nativity plays, to ‘appropriate touch’ for bell ringing, to rules on transporting children to and from church events.

Take bell ringing. It was once ­customary for junior bell ringers to turn up an hour early to get extra practice with an expert — but now a second adult must attend as a ‘watcher’. The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers has produced guidance on maintaining ‘A Safe Environment for Young People in the Belfry’.

Of particular concern is the situation where a young ringer’s bell is out of control, and an adult needs to ‘take hold of the learner’s hand to take control of the bell rope’. The document suggests that this hand-grabbing action be explained and ‘demonstrated to the parents ­during their early visit to a ­practice’.

This year’s round of nativity plays will, in the age of camera phones, be less documented than ever, thanks to growing bans on photography in schools and churches.

So the revolution is overdue. The CRB and other ‘safeguarding’ ­procedures have become part of a war not on perverts, but on the best and most decent members of our society — and it’s these members who must follow Annabel Hayter’s lead and stand up and say: ‘Enough! We refuse to be checked!’

The Coalition Government’s review of the Vetting and Barring Scheme is extremely welcome, but it can only do so much. The contagion runs not through government, but through the minds of officials.

Only if mothers, flower arrangers, choir-masters, reverends, teachers, parents and peers stand up to be counted will the whole shoddy structure start to weaken, crack, and finally come tumbling down.

Nobody actually believes in these absurd rules; they have spread by acquiescence — and they can yet be stopped with a little resistance.

Every week, there are new points of rebellion. Two mothers in ­Welwyn Garden City are petitioning outside their children’s primary school, calling for a reversal of the school’s photo ban which prevents them from recording this year’s nativity play.

Annabel Hayter has not yet received her final summons for a CRB check, but she has her response prepared. ‘If I say “I’m not going to be checked”, what are they going to do? If I carry on arranging flowers, will they get the constabulary in?’

Annabel knows that officers breaking up the spring flower festival would not be good PR. Annabel Hayter has begun to realise this battle can be won.


More perverse British justice

You can get 4 years jail for denying the Holocaust but deliberately driving your car into a policeman and hitting him is minor

After mowing down a policeman in an attempt to escape justice, shoplifter Saphhia Da-Silva was expected to face the full wrath of the British legal system. But instead magistrates have adjourned sentencing – so she can enjoy a pre-booked seven-week holiday to Australia.

Da-Silva was spotted shoplifting at a Gap store and was followed to her car by two police community support officers. As she attempted to escape in a silver BMW, hit an empty pushchair and then PCSO Daniel Smith flinging him 5ft in the air.

Her case had been adjourned for pre-sentence reports, and a sentencing hearing would have likely been held in mid-December. But the mother-of-two's planned seven-week trip Down Under, on a visa, is from November 28 to January 15 so Ashford magistrates agreed to adjourn the date until January 31. Nigel Numas, for Da-Silva, said: 'She wants to go to Australia and take her mother and children to see her nan.'

Chairman of the bench Anne Norris told him: 'We are dealing with something extremely serious. Is it relevant for your client to go on holiday? 'There is also a victim who is off sick and has been seriously injured.'

But Mr Numas explained that Da-Silva cared for her mentally ill mother, as well as her two children, a six-year-old daughter and four-year-old son. He said: 'In terms of going to Australia this is to get a bit of respite and a bit of help from her grandmother."

Mrs Norris asked for authentication of the trip and Mr Numas said it had been approved by a clinical team. Magistrates studied documentation before agreeing to the longer adjournment.

Da-Silva had admitted physically assaulting PCSO Smith, failing to stop after a road accident and shoplifting £236.12 worth of clothes from Gap on November 5 this year.

She also asked for a further offence from that day - of stealing £205.95 in clothes from Ralph Lauren at the same retail outlet - to be taken into consideration.

Da Silva, a former manager for Gap, was warned that a custodial sentence was still being considered, despite her holiday being allowed by the court. 'What you did was absolutely appalling,' said Magistrate Mrs Norris. 'You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself. You deliberately drove at a PCSO causing him to go 5ft in the air.'

PCSO Smith seemed so badly injured after the incident that a colleague thought he had been killed. Colleague Stuart Manning, who had also been injured, said: 'I believed he was dead. I was astounded that a person could run the risk of killing or injuring someone for the sake of a few items.' Both men are still off sick.

The court heard that after the incident Da-Silva was arrested at a nearby club where she was found to have a magnetic tag remover, used to take off security tags in shops. It was said she had changed from career woman to thief in a 'spectacular fall from grace'.

She had once been a manager in the very chain she stole from and was the youngest manager in the country for the retail outlet.

'Pressures of her life, financial pressures, were the reason for the shoplifting,' said Mr Numas. 'It has led to a spectacular fall from grace.'


British girl arrested for 'burning Koran and posting footage on Facebook'

If it's her own book, what's the problem with burning it -- or is Muslim law now British law?

A BRITISH teenager has been arrested on suspicion of inciting religious hatred after she allegedly burnt a copy of the Koran and posted footage of the incident on Facebook.

The girl, 15, has been bailed pending further inquiries.

Police also arrested a 14-year-old boy on suspicion of making threats over Facebook. He too has been bailed pending further inquiries.

The girl is accused of burning an English-language version of the Islamic holy book at her school in Sandwell, near Birmingham in central England.

A police spokesman said: "The local neighborhood team have strong links with the school and have been working closely with key partners from the community and the local authority to resolve the matter locally.

"Police will investigate and monitor any crime reported by individuals who may have been targeted."


Connecticut Roller Rink Defends Policy on Headscarves After Muslim Woman Complains‏

A roller skating rink in Connecticut is standing behind its decision to ask a Muslim woman to remove her headscarf because it could present a danger to skaters if it fell off.

Marisol Rodriguez-Colon was set to attend her 4-year-old niece’s birthday party at Ron-A-Roll but apparently didn’t make it very far past the check-in counter before she was stopped by a rink employee, who offered her two options: remove her headscarf or wear a helmet over it.

Rodriguez-Colon said she felt “mortified” when an employee at a rink asked her to wear a helmet on top of her religious headscarf, or hijab.

But Jennifer Conde, the operations manager at the Ron-A-Roll, said the rink’s main priority is the safety of its patrons. “We are not insensitive to people’s religion,” she said. “We just focus on safety.”

In a statement to, Ron-A-Roll said it has a policy that prohibits headwear to be worn in the building. Safety helmets are offered to those that are unable to remove headwear for any reason, because they are secured with a chin strap.

Each roller rink has its own rules. In many cases, these rules are tailored to fit their unique clientele.

The Roller Skating Association, through a lawyer, said that the “recommendation from the RSA is to not infringe on the use of recognized religious headgear unless the use of the headgear would expose other patrons to a risk that would not be otherwise present.”

Ron-A-Roll has a history of inflexibility to its rules, even when they turn out to be public relation nightmares. Back in January, a bald woman suffering from cancer left the rink when employees insisted that she wear a helmet over her head scarf. The woman, apparently embarrassed, left the rink. Friends of the woman created a Facebook page calling for the boycott of the rink.

Frank Schiazza, the owner of CN Skate Palace in Pennsylvania, said he has a "no hat" rule at his rink but never forced a Muslim woman to remove her scarf. “They usually don’t fly off,” he said.

Ron-A-Roll’s meticulous attention to details, in this case, is troubling to Mongi Dhaouadi, the executive director of the Connecticut office for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Dhaouadi said the rink has all but turned a deaf ear when he asked to talk about the matter. “These were two women who were not allowed in because they wore this headscarf,” he said. “They had absolutely no intention to skate.”

The women told Dhaouadi that few people at the rink were wearing a helmet at the time. “I’m hoping it’s a misunderstanding,” he said.

Janine Gallo, who organized the party, said she signed a contract that assured the club that the rules would be followed by her guests. The two women, according to Gallo, were not on the roster and created an unnecessary scene. “They were shouting that they were going to sue,” said Gallo.

The worker told Gallo that all she needed to do was put a helmet over the headscarf.

“The kids were having a great time, but they had to make it a racial thing,” Gallo told “It really shouldn’t be.”



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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