The Vetting database will protect children not only from living predators – but from dead ones too.
That is the startling conclusion from an official response given this week by Meg Hillier MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Home Office, when asked whether there are any procedures "to remove information about an individual from the Independent Safeguarding Authority’s database after their death".
According to Ms Hillier, "There is presently no routine method of updating the Independent Safeguarding Authority of the death of any individual barred under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act. However this is an area which the Independent Safeguarding Authority intends to address.
"The issue of retention of information for deceased persons is presently being explored and will be included as part of the Independent Safeguarding Authority’s record retention and review policy which is presently being drafted. This policy will be published once it has been agreed.
"Until a policy has been established, if the Independent Safeguarding Authority receives a report of the death of a barred individual, the record will be marked "reported deceased"."
Standard practice amongst direct marketing companies is to establish rules for the removal of deceased individuals from customer files at the earliest possible opportunity. As well as increasing processing costs, holding on to spurious details increases the likelihood of false matches and of individuals being wrongly barred from regulated work.
The issue of when and how an individual may be removed from the vetting database is likely to raise further questions in respect of how the scheme will work.
A spokesman for the Independent Safeguarding Authority today told El Reg: "an individual can remove themselves from the register at their own request.
"They would need to re-register with the scheme should they return to working in a regulated or controlled activity."
This makes some sense where an individual who works in a regulated role, such as teaching or social work, opts for a change of career. However, it also appears to open up a new loophole in respect of registration that is required on grounds of "frequency of contact".
Draft guidelines on this topic (now mysteriously moved from their original location on the net) strongly implied that once an individual was registered on these grounds, the requirement would continue even after the activity giving rise to that requirement ceased.
As rules on the definition of frequency are now being reviewed by Sir Roger Singleton, Chair of the ISA, it is possible that this guidance, too, is now in limbo.
Night of the Living Dead was a seminal horror film, released in 1968 and directed by George Romero. Widely regarded as re-booting the zombie genre, the film was considered by many to be ground-breaking, both for its gruesome excess, and for its political sub-text.
Critics at the time linked it to the Vietnam conflict. Since then it has been interpreted more widely as a metaphor for the unstoppable "other": zombies as subversives, zombies as the red menace and now, perhaps, in some government circles, the zombie paedophile. ®