Sector hits back at proposal to 'snoop' on clients

Acevo chief executive Stephen Bubb is seeking an urgent meeting with Third Sector minister Ed Miliband following the leaking of Government proposals to require charity workers to inform on clients likely to commit crime. Bubb said the proposals would turn charities into "snoops for the state".

According to a draft Home Office document leaked to The Times, professionals, including charity workers, doctors and council workers, should be legally required to inform the authorities if they suspect anyone of being at risk of becoming either a perpetrator or a victim of serious violence.

Under the proposals for “multi-agency information sharing”, that person’s personal information, including their medical records, would then be shared between different Government agencies.

According to The Times, the document also suggested setting up new agencies for potential perpetrators and victims to carry out “full risk assessments”, although it does not say what powers they would have to take preventative action.

Bubb said that if the proposals were genuine they could fundamentally undermine the relationship between an independent third sector and the state. “It is our role to help and support marginalised communities, protect the vulnerable and act as a voice for the voiceless,” he said. “It is not our role to act as snoops on behalf of the State.”

“I would have assumed this is so crazy it can't be true, but, regrettably, there are officials in the Home Office who do not understand the unique role of our sector. But I'm sure Ed Miliband will act quickly to squash this nonsense.”

A Home Office spokesman confirmed the existence of working group involving various Government departments and the Association of Chief Police Officers to develop proposals for “multi-agency information sharing at a local level to prevent serious violence”.

However, he said the proposals were “still in development” and no decisions had been made about what will become Government policy.

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