Community-spirited parents should not be penalised with criminal checks, say volunteering groups

Call comes as charities make preparations for new vetting and barring scheme

Parents that drive groups of children to sporting or social events should not be classed as volunteers for the purposes of Criminal Records Bureau checks, according to volunteering organisations.

Under the Independent Safeguarding Authority's new vetting and barring scheme, which will be introduced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from October, parents that have ‘frequent' contact with other people's children will be counted as volunteers and will be able to register with the ISA free of charge.

The new rules state that they will face a £5,000 fine if they fail to register for the checks by July 2010.

Debbie Usiskin, vice-chair of the Association of Volunteer Managers, said there was a "line between volunteering and community spirit".

"Giving lifts to other people's children is just one of those things that parents do. It isn't volunteering; it's being community-spirited," she said.

Dame Elisabeth Hoodless, executive director of volunteering charity CSV, told Third Sector volunteering was "service freely given without expectation of reward". Volunteering "certainly includes driving other people's children to sports", she said.

But she added that many volunteers resented the "intrusion" caused by CRB checks. "Many are ceasing to volunteer," she said.

Mike Locke, director of public affairs at Volunteering England, said: "The new vetting and barring scheme has advantages over the present CRB system. It will continuously monitor the status of volunteers and should alert volunteer-involving organisations should volunteers cease to be suitable to work with children and vulnerable adults."

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