Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by The Guide Association



  1.  Thank you for inviting comments from The Guide Association who will be a potential major user of the Criminal Records Bureau. As the UK's largest organisation for girls and young women with more than 600,000 members aged between 5 and 25 years we take our responsibilities for safeguarding the welfare of the membership very seriously. We have consistently supported the principle of establishing the Bureau as this will provide new access to information that can formally assist our existing rigorous recruitment procedures.


  2.  There are more than 100,000 adult volunteers in the Guide Association . We expect to need to access enhanced disclosures for more than 40,000 volunteers per year.

  3.  The contribution of the work done by the volunteer adults in the Guide Association is equivalent to employing more than 5,000 full time youth workers. The Association has given this service to local communities for 90 years free of charge. It is difficult to accept we will have to find almost £500,000 a year in order to continue to offer this opportunity to girls and young women.


  4.  As a UK wide organisation it has become clear that arrangements will be different for potential volunteers in England and Wales than those for potential volunteers in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Isle of Man, Channel Islands This may lead to a different level of service and has certainly led to a different level of equity as it is now clear that potential volunteers in Scotland will not be charged for the disclosure and access to PECS in Northern Ireland is also currently free of charge.

  5.  The Association is therefore faced with policy and procedural issues which lead to a new layer of complexity in the bureaucracy of the whole organisation. Changes in administrative arrangements alone will cost the organisation tens of thousands of pounds.


  6.  The government has repeatedly referred to the fact that using the Bureau is optional for voluntary organisations. However this is at least implicitly contradicted in the new criminal offence which makes trustees and employers vulnerable if they appoint someone whom they could have checked.

  7.  Expectations from Insurers and parents who support their girls in joining the organisation will demand that The Guide Association has to make use of this facility at the enhanced level.

8.  In the Regulatory Impact Assessment we indicated that we would expect to need to check more than 40,000 volunteers each year and around 50 new staff including many seasonal activity instructors. Using the illustrative figure of £10 per person this is an estimated annual cost of £450,000.


  9.  Guiding is carried out at a neighbourhood level. It is also funded locally without any state grants or central bursaries. Many units can only provide a service to girls and young women in their area if the weekly fee is no more than 50 pence. The idea that additional funds need to be found to cover the cost of the disclosure every time a new adult joins presents a serious financial burden to the local unit.

  10.  One in three girls aged 8 in the UK is a Brownie. We are not often associated with working with those who are socially excluded but with this kind of percentage membership we are surely taking care of a large number of girls and young women who may become at risk of being socially excluded. There does not seem to be any recognition of this as government funding is directed to those at one extreme of the spectrum.


  11.  The Guide Association is committed to working with the Bureau and once again urges the Home Secretary to use his powers under the Police Act to waive the charges for voluntary organisations.

Mrs Terry Ryall, Chief Executive

January 2001

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