The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association today warned that there is a real danger of chaos if the Scottish Parliament does not proceed urgently with the Bill designed to improve child protection (Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scotland) Bill).

“We are becoming increasingly concerned that the Bill will not make sufficient progress to pass into law before the dissolution of Parliament ahead of the election in May” said David Eaglesham, General Secretary.

“It is vital that provision is made urgently to give full protection to all young people and other vulnerable groups, and also that the system of disclosure checks be made manageable for all concerned.”

“Following the evidence we gave to Sir Michael Bichard's Inquiry in 2003, it is clear that existing provisions are inadequate and it is vital that these are upgraded urgently.”

“It is equally true that current requirements for disclosure checks are creating enormous difficulties for many groups and organisations. The need for repeated and multiple checks to be made – up to 14 for an individual – is both slowing down the process and undoubtedly discouraging individuals from working with children in a huge range of activities on a voluntary basis. The system has to be streamlined or many sectors will suffer, not least sports activities. The consequent reduction in these will lead to a generation which is less fit, and to even less chance of success in competitive sports at international level. “

“At the end of the day, we cannot check on every person in the country. If Ian Huntley had been a building worker or bank employee and not a school caretaker, he would not have been disclosure checked under the new system, yet the contact with Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman could still have taken place through Maxine Carr's employment in the school. Vigilance by all those with responsibility for young people remains the best weapon to avoid harm.

Parliament must ensure that the Bill does not run into the sands of time”

Further information fromDavid Eaglesham

General Secretary