CRB checks obsolete.

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CRB checks obsolete.

Postby Chris » 15 Sep 2013, 15:24

I have been having a look at some of the pages on the Punch Profs Directory. If you are not on it and you are seeking work, then you should be. It's free and is referred to by booking agents as well as the general public.

http://www.punchandjudy.com/profs
Anyway I note that a lot of you are still advertising that you are CRB checked. Why?

The CRB is obsolete, it has been supplanted by the DBS check.

This is taken from the Government website:


Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks (previously CRB checks)

1. Overview
The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) have merged into the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). CRB checks are now called DBS checks.
A DBS check may be needed for:
certain jobs or voluntary work - like working with children, or in healthcare
applying to foster or adopt a child

Unlike CRB checks, the sort of jobs that are eligible to be checked are listed.

(Standard checks – To be eligible for a standard level DBS check, the position must be
included in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975)

The relevant thing is that Punch and Judy men, magicians and children's entertainers are not required to be checked, nor is anyone who is not in sole charge of children or vulnerable adults on a repeated or regular basis.

Furthermore, it is actually illegal for someone to carry out a check on you if you are not in a relevant category.

It is also illegal for them to turn you down for a job because you have not been DBS checked if you are not in one of the relevant categories.

You won't be told this by the firms still advertising to carry our CRB checks for you. They want your money.


If you want to check this out for yourself then go to:
https://www.gov.uk/disclosure-barring-service-check/overview
And start from there, following up all the links.
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Re: CRB checks obselete.

Postby Tony James » 17 Sep 2013, 13:35

Thank you Chris. It’s good to see the position with clarity. Forgive me if I’m missing something but it looks very similar to the situation which has prevailed for the last couple of years and which you wrote here at the time. I remember posting then about a council which had informed its schools of the changes and then added that head teachers had the option to require a CRB if they wished.

My experience since has been that this has all stopped. Schools understand the situation. An occasional small organisation has asked more through force of habit and last November a council in the Midlands asked for a CRB, again from habit. Most people still refer to DBS as CRB.

I can’t comment on private birthday party work because I don’t do any. I am aware some people have been asked by parents for CRB in the past. Maybe others can reflect on the current situation.

There is however one area which prevails. Big organisations, the nationals and multi nationals, the ones who work through agents rather than direct and are frequently retail related. Some of them are still insisting on any visiting entertainer to be DSB checked – they have only recently stopped asking for CRB. Agents have informed them of the ‘impossibility and illegality’ of their request but the local manager insists it is company policy which cannot be overruled (meaning by that individual. It’s tick box management).

As a lot of work is often involved – holidays and half term holidays throughout the year - the agents do the only thing they can. They find those people who already are in possession of a DSB as a result of other work – often educationally associated – and offer them. Many are actors with a range of other abilities and whilst – as one agent said to me only recently – they may not be sufficiently skilled to be rated ‘good’ they manage to get by.

Elementary circus skills, simple magic, balloons and a puppet. Not skilled children’s entertainers or P&J but sufficient for the local client who has fulfilled their brief to head office for some customer entertainment at holiday times.

You and I know these companies and know how poor the pay can be. So it’s not work I would find attractive.

At one time even small shopping centres had regular entertainment. Came the boom years and entertainment slipped away. With the recession I expected to see a revival of entertainment to pull shoppers into centres and malls. A few places did.

But I was wrong. The culture has died and not even this prolonged recession and struggling retail sector has resulted in efforts to encourage people to return to the malls.
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Re: CRB checks obsolete.

Postby Chris » 17 Sep 2013, 15:11

While it is true that I have always maintained that we did not require a CRB to entertain children the situation has now changed quite a bit.
The change you appear to have missed is that it is now illegal to perform a check on someone who is not is a designated risk category.
Also it is illegal for them to turn you down for a job because you haven't been checked, if you are not in the listed categories requiring checking.
Now I note that you talk of encountering the obsinate agents/companies who wrongly insist on a DBS. I also remember you argued the same thing when I pointed out the harm we were doing to ourselves by pandering to the unnecessary CRB checks.
All I can reply is to tell of my experience which is that I have never been CRB checked and have never lost a job through not having one. I have always found, on the occasions when asked, that to politely point out the actual requirements and enquire why one was needed for their particular job, the requirement has always been dropped.
I am sure that if we meet similar unrequired demands for DBS then they too can be resolved - especially as we are now in a very strong position since they can't say "no check, no job" without breaking the law.

I am sure that many performers have noticed, as you have Tony, the drying up of a variety of sources of work during the recession. Shopping mall work in particular, as you suggest, and also small theatre work. Personally I have not suffered as badly as some friends. I think I have been lucky in the variety of avenues I serve and have benefitted on the swings and roundabouts principle. That it is not to say I have been unaffected, but I have friends who have been, and still are, pretty desperate.

Has anyone seen any green shoots?
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Re: CRB checks obselete.

Postby Tony James » 17 Sep 2013, 16:12

Chris wrote:
Has anyone seen any green shoots?


This is always difficult. It depends on the work we do. Mine is mainly restricted to showgrounds and town/city centre events.

Town and city events are mostly local authority run and financed and their money is exceedingly limited. So things are tight. No longer will council event departments commit to a summer event now, in September or October as they used to. They don't know what budget they will have till after April 1st next year. So they come late and have to book what is available rather than what they would prefer.

Money is there and events are happening. But the work comes a bit last minute as in two or three weeks ahead. When you are talking July and August even most midweek dates have gone by then. There's nothing they can do about it.

The showground work is looking a tiny bit better. Bear in mind they took a terrible pasting last year with the weather so fees are being held to around 2010/11 levels. This summer has improved organisers' confidence and Nov/Dec Christmas events are mostly in but I still have some odd midweek evening dates and hopefully these will fill very soon. It depends who is running them and where the money comes from.

But in general I detect more confidence now than this time last year.
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Re: CRB checks obselete.

Postby BookEmDanno » 18 Sep 2013, 06:51

Now I note that you talk of encountering the obsinate agents/companies who wrongly insist on a DBS. I also remember you argued the same thing when I pointed out the harm we were doing to ourselves by pandering to the unnecessary CRB checks.


I think that might have been me, or at least I spoke of it as well about a year ago.

It has always been illegal to ask for a DBS/CRB check where the position does not require it.

I once pointed out to the CRB some of the wrong requirements for a check advertised by agents as a badge of honour. They were not interested.

Don't be misled into believing checks are now portable from one position to another. Most are not. Only checks applied for on or after 17 June 2013 (I believe) can be portable. The applicant has to pay a subscription of £13 a year to make their check portable.

Nevertheless, it would still be illegal for an employer to look at the online updating system where a postion does not require a check.

As Chris has said, the important think to remember is that above everything in DBS checking, the position has to need a check before one can be made within the law.
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Re: CRB checks obselete.

Postby Tony James » 18 Sep 2013, 09:11

The two views being discussed are still the same. Chris is and always has been right about the legality and desirability or otherwise of CRB/DBS and I have never challenged this. All I said originally was that if a school, council or other booker would only book someone with a certificate then either you had one and got the job or you didn’t and the job was in danger of going elsewhere. that's why it was easier and more certain to have one and avoid discussions. Certainly location was a factor, some people being more amenable than others and some performers having better personal relationships.

It was a fact of life.

I am only pleased that the confusion and inappropriate application has been recognised and the ‘rules’ have been made clear and cut and dried. It seems to have been pretty well laid to rest.

But – where there are odd organisations who fail to update their policies there will remain those who will only accept someone with a piece of paper which allows some jobsworth to tick a box.. And to be fair to that jobsworth, they are powerless anyway.

Somewhere way above at board level a policy decision was reached long ago and to get it even on the table for consideration is probably very difficult.

Don’t blame the agents. They know the rules, they inform the local client management but either those agents turn away some significant work which will only be done by someone else and rule themselves out for future consideration, or they find a way round it.
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Re: CRB checks obselete.

Postby Chris » 18 Sep 2013, 11:57

I think BED is muddying the waters. Firstly he says:
It has always been illegal to ask for a DBS/CRB check where the position does not require it.
This just isn't true. Previosly there was no illegality in getting a CRB check even if there was no position involved. That was the problem. Hundreds of agencies were making money by offering to apply for CRB checks on behalf of children's entertainers with no specific job in mind. That is why Punchmen and Magicians galore were advertising their checks and thus promoting the idea to bookers that they were required.

And why add confusion by writing:
Don't be misled into believing checks are now portable from one position to another. Most are not. Only checks applied for on or after 17 June 2013 (I believe) can be portable. The applicant has to pay a subscription of £13 a year to make their check portable.
Why mention that? What is that to do with us? The whole point of this is that DBS does not apply to people presenting Punch and Judy shows.
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Re: CRB checks obselete.

Postby BookEmDanno » 18 Sep 2013, 12:01

I am only pleased that the confusion and inappropriate application has been recognised and the ‘rules’ have been made clear and cut and dried. It seems to have been pretty well laid to rest.


I'm not sure the 'rules' have been made clear and cut and dried. It is a complicated area involving several pieces of legislation, which many do not understand. Therefore, I doubt if it has been laid to rest. I fear the new portable checks will add to the confusion.

Don’t blame the agents. They know the rules, they inform the local client management but either those agents turn away some significant work which will only be done by someone else and rule themselves out for future consideration, or they find a way round it.


I had been of the view that agents and party planners who advertise their performers as CRB checked (the ones I looked at last year are still using CRB instead of DBS) were ignorant of the rules. If they are doing it deliberately to get work and probably breaking the law as a result, I don't know what to say.

Over thirty-five years working in payroll and personnel before becoming a Punch professor, has taught me that many people who should know better do not know the law, or choose not to obey it.
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Re: CRB checks obselete.

Postby BookEmDanno » 18 Sep 2013, 12:20

I wish, Chris, that we didn't always end up falling out on this subject. I am on your side.

It has always been illegal to ask for a DBS/CRB check where the position does not require it.
This just isn't true. Previosly there was no illegality in getting a CRB check even if there was no position involved. That was the problem.


I am afraid your comment here is mistaken.

Here are a couple of responses I got from the CRB

That the submission of CRB checks for ineligible positions would be considered unlawful under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Under Part V of the Police Act 1997 an application for a CRB check must be accompanied by a statement by the registered person that the certificate is required for the purpose of asking an exempted question.

That, if an individual knowingly asks for a CRB check for a post which is not included in the Exceptions Order 1975 to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (ROA), they would be in breach of Part V, section 123 of the Police Act, in that they are committing an offence by knowingly making a false statement for the purpose of obtaining or enabling another person to obtain a certificate under this


It's all to do with ability to ask an exempted quesion. I suspect many exempted questions may have been asked wrongly.

Why mention that? What is that to do with us? The whole point of this is that DBS does not apply to people presenting Punch and Judy shows.


I mention portability of checks, because I believe many felt the previous checks are portable, which they are not. It's another point that I fear that those who don't understand the rules will latch on to making the situation worse.
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Re: CRB checks obselete.

Postby Chris » 18 Sep 2013, 14:16

So when did the CRB respond to you? You state the position as it is now, not as it was previously.
The government paper introducing DBS and explaining the difference to CRBs says:
"Unlike CRB checks, the sort of jobs that are eligible to be checked are listed." It is illegal to check for a job not on the list, and since that list did not previously exist then obviously the situation has changed.

You are certainly not on my side if you continue to try and confuse.

If you agree that the current position is, with regards to Punch and Judy and other children's entertainers, that they are not one of the designated categories and that therefore they do not need a DBS check, nor can they legally be required to have a DBS check nor can they legally be refused work because they do not have a DBS check, then why continue your nit-picking. Portability et al is irrelevant.
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Re: CRB checks obselete.

Postby BookEmDanno » 18 Sep 2013, 15:03

So when did the CRB respond to you? You state the position as it is now, not as it was previously.


30 July 2012, that is a month and a bit before the Protection of Freedoms Act came into force on 10 September 2012 and four months before the DBS came into being on 1 December 2012.

The quote about the Police Act 1997 goes back to the setting up of the CRB in March 2002.

However, I have no desire to be correct. What irks me is that entertainers have been required to give money to umbrella bodies or registered employers to get a CRB check when one was never required and the people seeking them should have known better.

I mention portability because it is new and could become another area for mistakes to be made.
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Re: CRB checks obselete.

Postby Chris » 18 Sep 2013, 22:47

Do you not think they might have known what plans they had re. DBS 4 months before its launch? Presumably such things take planning and preparation. Therefore their answer would possibly reflect the imminent position rather than that which had obtained in years previous?

But really I am only interested that my fellow performers know and understand their current position, which seemed to me very straightforward and clear when I started this thread. As far as I can see all the digging into the past and gratuitous additions haven't supported that clarity.
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Re: CRB checks obselete.

Postby BookEmDanno » 19 Sep 2013, 07:22

Therefore their answer would possibly reflect the imminent position rather than that which had obtained in years previous?


I think it is possible, but improbable. I feel CRB Customer Services were more likely to answer according to the law as it was at the time and not in respect of legislation that was still to come into force.

It became my view that CRB checks did not float around in the ether unconnected to a position. Reading around the subject and personal experience with my daughter who had an enhanced check for a placement year during her degree course and a separate check for youth work led me to my conclusions. This was at least 5 years ago.

This is interesting because we have come to the subject from different directions and I can understand that comments I have made do not fit an understanding of checks not related to position.

However, if I am correct and 'old' CRB checks were related to position, it adds weight to your question about advertising such on websites. A matter you have raised before, which was relevant then and is relevant today.

It also asks serious questions whether checks were properly applied for in the past, often, I assume, by umbrella bodies rather than registered employers.

In this context portability of checks becomes important. Portability is a new thing (since the DBS came into being) designed to stop people having to make multiple applications for checks.

The logic here is that checks applied for before June 2013 are not portable and relate to a specific position. That the majority of checks are not portable adds further weight to the view that advertising a check has no value.

I still think portability is an important aspect. It is new and is directly relevant to the misunderstanding that seems to exist and may well add to the confusion. If the former system was misunderstood, I don't think the new one will be grasped any better.

The dissemination of information and challenging the misconceptions is very useful. The thing to remember is that checks are wholly dependant on the postion. This is the first and most impotant test. If the position does not meet the criteria for a DBS check, the rest can be ignored. I am glad you said it.
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Re: CRB checks obselete.

Postby Chris » 19 Sep 2013, 12:21

If the former system was misunderstood, I don't think the new one will be grasped any better.

Well certainly not if you have anything to do with it.
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Re: CRB checks obsolete.

Postby Benjie » 19 Sep 2013, 17:40

Thank you Chris for your initial post which has certainly cleared things up for me as I did not know how I stood with the new system. Benji
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