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Children: Protection

Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 17 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what safeguards are in place to prevent known paedophiles from opening a children’s agency specialising in theatre, television and modelling; and if she will make a statement. (148729)

I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to my previous answer on 11 July 2007, Official Report, column 1546W.

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, which will be implemented from Autumn 2008, provides the legislative framework to help prevent unsuitable people from working with children. The Act applies where an individual is undertaking regulated activity, which includes teaching, training, supervising, caring for or offering advice, guidance or instruction to children where it is done frequently or intensively (overnight or on more than two days in a 30-day period). Operating a children’s agency would also be included. An individual who is barred under the new scheme will commit an offence if they seek to engage in this activity and an employer will commit an offence if they seek to use such a person.

In addition, those running agencies are required to meet the provisions of the Employment Agencies Act 1973 and associated regulations, which are designed to protect those using the work-finding services they provide.

The regulations provide that agencies which supply individuals to work with or alongside vulnerable persons, including children, must carry out strict checks regarding those individuals which include taking up of independent references. Where agencies supply workers to work with children, these checks would include a Criminal Records Bureau check.