Working with Kids

Posted on: Thursday 01 July 2010 11:13am

Sarah Thane CBE outlines the findings of her review into the reform of the child licensing regulations which could have significant impacts on the work of children’s content production if they become law. The session also provides a brief run-down on the new guidelines for the vetting procedures which will replace CRB checks.

Moderator:

Keith Arrowsmith, Sprecher Grier Halberstam LLP

Speaker

Sarah Thane, Consultant

For any of the delegates who work directly with children this session was a must as it attempted to unpick the minefield of child licensing.

Sarah Thane was asked by the previous Government to review the current regulations in the Children and Young Persons Act which dates back to 1963. They are widely thought to be complex, difficult to interpret and hard to apply to contemporary broadcasting and the world of online. Her report was published on 20th March this year but within weeks there was a General Election and a new Government which means it is still to be acted upon and no one is quite sure when that is going to happen.

Sarah told delegates that she and her team met with all the key stakeholders as part of the review, including psychologists, chaperones, BBC, ITV, Sky, Disney, PACT andOFCOM and it was widely felt that the rules governing child licensing are simply not appropriate any more.

Sarah accepts the current system makes life difficult for producers and thinks there’s an urgent need for the whole system to be overhauled. She knows we often need to get hold of licences at short notice and believes that children should not necessarily have to have medicals. She believes parental assurance on a child’s health should be enough. The bottom line? It’s just not flexible enough.

One of her recommendations is that chaperones should have more rigorous training. She also understands there’s a postcode lottery as far as local authorities are concerned. As any producer who has tried to get a child licence will know, some local authorities are incredibly helpful and knowledgeable and some are not. Sarah thinks one way to get around this would be for some local authorities to act as centres of expertise. She says some areas are used to dealing with requests and are very efficient – these could be developed and give advice to other authorities which have little experience of dealing with licensing. But she insisted the onus should be on employers to deliver a safe working environment for children.

Sarah is due to meet with Children’s Minister, Tim Loughton, to discuss her recommendations.

Lawyer, Keith Arrowsmith, who was the moderator of the sessiontalked briefly about CRB checks. He told delegates that plans for an enhanced CRB check which would link it to the vetting and barring system have been put on hold for the time being. It’s still not clear who will be subjected to the additional continual checks.

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