28 September 2009

This is what happens when you rely on the state to tell you what to do

News today that the Children's Minister has ordered a review of the case of two female coppers who were told off by Ofsted for looking after each others children

Common sense would lead most of us to ask why on Earth were friends/colleagues being investigated for looking after each others' children?

Because the simple answer is

"Generally, mothers who look after each other's children are not providing childminding for which registration is required, as exemptions apply to them, for example because the care is for less than two hours or it takes place on less than 14 days in a year." (Ofsted)

Close relatives of children, such as grandparents, siblings, aunts or uncles, were exempt from the rules, he added.

So basically, anybody who is not closely related to you cannot look after your child on a regular basis (more than 14 days in a year, or more than a two-hour session...) without being registered and subject to a criminal check - unless there is no 'reward'


"Reward is not just a case of money changing hands. The supply of services or goods and, in some circumstances, reciprocal arrangements can also constitute reward."

Were you paying someone (even a close friend) for childminding, then fair enough, it is somewhat harsh, as it's a bit like forcing someone who privately sells their car to become a registered dealer - but when 'reward' extends to people sharing childcare to save themselves money it's got beyond a joke

So, basically you cannot have any sort of reciprocal agreement with someone who isn't related to you without undergoing criminal checks - truly we have given up our freedom to make decisions to the state when women from a mothers' group can't help each other out without asking the government first

As usual, a measure to protect us (registering childminders) has resulted in a much more wide-ranging measure that can hugely affect our personal decisions - at best it's sloppy legislation, at worst it's another move to control us with databases

The minister has ordered a review - which is not bad by Labour's standards, but I can't help thinking that they only picked up on this because 1) the Mail pointed it out (no internal checks), and 2) it was about 'hard-working' policewomen returning to work - politically dangerous

This does I admit, show a surprising amount of shrewdness from Labour - so maybe I'll believe they actually care in this case, but still, once again we're seeing that the masses of legislation passed in the Labour years probably does more harm than good


Speaking of the Mail, I don't normally agree with them but on this I have to

A burglar with a port-wine birthmark cannot be identified because the police cannot find the compulsory 12 people to show in a photo-identity parade, and if he was in a real line-up, they'd all have to hide half their face to avoid using the birthmark as identification

Is that not ridiculous? I can understand where the law is coming from, having 12 broadly similar people for a line-up, and no doubt the law protects a black guy who has being arrested if he's stuck in a line-up with 11 white guys - but birthmarks are not a racial thing

Presumably if the guy had one arm they'd have to cover that up too? Or find a dozen one-armed bandits...?

How about if they had a big knife-induced scar across their eye? Would that be an unfair way to identify someone? It's just silly

Distinctive personal features are identifiers, and I doubt for the amount of people with one of those birthmarks that twelve people is a fair sample, and also that the probability of getting the suspect right is a little higher than simply using the suspect's skin colour

Once again, it's sloppy law-making where a distinctive feature can be used to essentially protect a criminal from prosecution

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