Pub/Sub for Child Protection

I went on a training course yesterday to learn more about the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). ISA is the public body that will be responsible for registering and vetting people who work with children. It was created by the Government in response to the Bichard Inquiry that followed the Soham Murders.

There was way too much covered in the course to fit in a single post, but there was one particular bit worth mentioning.

The biggest limitation with the existing CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) checks is that it’s a snapshot – a one-off check.

It’s a piece of paper that tells you that the owner had no convictions at the time the paper was printed. But it doesn’t tell you if the owner went out and committed a crime the day after the paper was printed. If a CRB check isn’t repeated for a few years, it can be years before this is discovered.

ISA registration is different. Once registered, someone is continually monitored.

When an organisation employs someone (either as staff or as a volunteer) to work with children, they register an interest in that person with the ISA. Then if something relevant is identified about the person that would make them unsuitable to work with children, the organisation is notified.

Although it wasn’t described as this, to me (after spending years working on WebSphere MQ and WebSphere Message Broker) it’s basically a move from polling to publish/subscribe!

Instead of submitting a CRB request every few years, schools, charities, volunteering organisations and so on can subscribe to receive messages about each of their employees and volunteers.

Think of all the benefits that pub/sub and push notification architectures have over polling approaches, only here it is being applied to child protection – making sure that organisations get the information they need to keep children safe.

I have absolutely no idea how this is implemented within the ISA and/or CRB. But regardless of whether or not this is done using IBM software, this is a very good idea.

Tags: , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Pub/Sub for Child Protection”

  1. Dave Nice says:

    I really like this idea. It’s a glaring hole in the current system. I know that a lot of organisations have been advised to request the data again on a regular basis but there’s always a potential time gap between conviction and an organisation finding out.

    I guess one issue could be timely unsubscription. If I did commit an offence (which I don’t plan to!) then all of the organisations registered would be notified. This information ends up in the hands of a real person employed at that organisation who, it’s possible, could be less than discreet!

    For instance, the people who have requested CRB checks on me: the university I went to, a school (previous employer), my church, a charity related to my church, my wife’s school (for a trip I helped on) – and this is just in the last 6 years! I am only currently regularly active for one of those organisations.

    The CRB shows up every criminal offence I’m convicted of. If I was (for instance) convicted for drunk and disorderly behaviour, would that be “announced” to all of those organisations? It would be quite embarassing to have that information passed around the staff room of the school I worked at, and they certainly have no need to know about that offence because I no longer work there.

    So – would the onus be on them to unsubscribe? The ISA to check currency of subscriptions? Me to manage the organisations who are allowed to access my data?

    I’ve had a brief look on the website and can’t see any information on how this is managed, was it discussed on your course?

  2. dale says:

    one issue could be timely unsubscription … would the onus be on them to unsubscribe?

    The instructor did say that there was a legal obligation for organisations to notify the ISA of relevant changes (changes to the activities carried out by the person being monitored, when they leave, etc.).

    Part of the Action Plan that I took away from the course was certainly that this will need to become a part of our operational procedures.

    But I don’t know how this will be enforced.

    This information ends up in the hands of a real person employed at that organisation who, it’s possible, could be less than discreet!

    There are strict rules around how an organisation uses information obtained from CRB and ISA, with threats of fines and/or imprisonment for inappropriate use.

    CRB shows up every criminal offence I’m convicted of… Would that be “announced” to all of those organisations?

    No. ISA are supposed to only pass on information relevant to the safety of children.

    E.g. something like a conviction for theft would not be passed on.