The recent decision by the Welsh Labour Government to withdraw funding for the Disclosure and Barring Service checking of those involved with children’s’ sports and other activities has caused considerable concern locally.
At the moment the Welsh Government funds the Wales Council for Voluntary Service to provide a free service to clubs and charities in Wales who need to ensure that people who volunteer to work with children and vulnerable adults in all kinds of sporting and other settings are properly vetted.
Although these checks are free for volunteers there is an administration fee of between £12 and £17 for each check. Up until now that has been paid for by the Welsh Government. This funding is being withdrawn as of 31st May this year.
It is not the case that the voluntary sector will be able to easily absorb the cost of DBS vetting. The total budget for this work across Wales is £250,000, whilst the cost to local organisations in the Bridgend area runs into tens of thousands.
This cut will make it harder to safeguard children and the vulnerable properly. Some organisations may not now carry out the checks to the right standards, and others simply won’t have the cash to be able to check every single coach or helper, which will mean the withdrawal of activities.
Everybody agrees that playing sport where possible, and having decent leisure and volunteering activities are vital for children and young people as they grow. Yet at the same time, it is vital that our children, and other vulnerable people, are protected from those few who would do them harm.
It is particularly galling that this change should take place without full consultation with all those affected and without proper transitional arrangements being put in place.