Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Lack of scrutiny of childcare legislation

The case of two police officers being told by Ofsted they must stop their reciprocal childcare arrangements comes hot on the heels of another childcare story, that of the checks people must undergo as part of the Vetting and Barring Scheme.

Understandably, many people are up in arms about both stories which are considered an intrusion of the state on people's lives, but a more important point seems to have been missed. In both cases, these are not new laws, so why the outcry only now? The legislation covering the Vetting and Barring Scheme was passed in 2006. Likewise, the legislation applied zealously by Ofsted in the case of the two police officers was passed in the same year.

So why were these contentious and easily misinterpreted acts not questioned before they were passed? Who is to blame? Is it Parliament? The opposition? The media? Or we the people? Is this scrutiny something that can be improved with new media? The Guardian used crowdsourcing to pick apart MPs' expenses when the redacted claims were published earlier this year. Is there perhaps an appetite for other such collaborative work when it comes to legislation?

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