CRB Check Backlash
Against stupid CRB checks:
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.” Everybody else had been checked: the “welcomers” at the cathedral door; the cathedral 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. 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 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 as The Spectator goes to press. 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.”
I wrote about CRB checks in 2008.