A Freedom of Information request to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) has shown that more than 20,000 applications made to schools come from convicted criminals.
The request, which came from The Mirror, showed that more than 50,000 criminal offences were committed last year by people wanting to work with children. Criminal offences listed involved sexual assault of a girl under 13, sex with a girl under 13 and rape.
Other criminal acts of job applicants included burglary and armed robbery.
The figures, which are higher than previously thought, have triggered campaigners to fight for greater transparency in the education system. They say that parents should be aware of who is looking after their children.
Joe Brown, leader of NSPCC for tackling child abuse, said:[quote]These figures are alarming and show why it’s vital that schools are vigilant and take every possible precaution to ensure that nobody who works in the school has previously harmed children.”[/quote]
Under current rules, serious convictions like murder, rape, prostitution, kidnap and most sexual offences will result in an instant barring from any job role that involves coming into contact with children. However, other crimes like burglary and fraud are left to the individual discretion of the school and do not necessarily result in a barring.[quote]Sex offenders can be devious and go to great lengths to get into positions that give them access to children.”[/quote]
Mr. Brown said.[quote]Any offender with a history of child sex abuse should be considered a risk to children’s safety for the rest of their lives,”[/quote]
The details were provided by the Disclosure and Barring Service, which has replaced the Criminal Records Bureau and Independent Safeguarding Authority since 2012.
They revealed that 20,069 applications to posts such as teachers, dinner ladies, assistants and catetakers were from people previously convicted. Around 7000 checks overall last year showed that potential staff had criminal records.
Chairman of the Campaign for Real Education Chris McGovern said:[quote]We need to know how many teachers and support staff in schools have actually been employed after receiving a conviction or a caution for a relevant offence.
Parents and school governors should not be lulled into over-confidence with regard to the DBS clearance. It is a general safeguard but offers no guarantee that someone is suitable for working with children.”[/quote]
A spokesperson for the DBS added:[quote]We are keenly aware of the impact that barring or not barring can have on both the person under consideration and those with whom they may have come into contact with.
Often very difficult and finely balanced decisions have to be made.”[/quote]