Thursday, June 25, 2009

Badman Review = A Civil Liberties Question

From comments at Liberal Vision

Bishop Hill writes:

"The Badman review proposes that local authorities should have the right to enter the home and interview children without the parents being present. It’s remarkable that there has been so little outcry over this trampling of a fundamental civil liberty - namely the right not to have the state search your premises without a warrant. It’s notable that someone convicted of a crime who has served their sentence cannot have their home entered by officers of the state unless a warrant is obtained. Yet here we are proposing that people who have not been convicted of anything, and are not even suspected of anything, can have their privacy invaded just because someone in a local authority feels like it.

This really isn’t about home education at all. It’s a civil liberties question. Do we want to live in a country where your home can be searched by the state “just in case”?

I think the Bishop is right. The standard for the right of entry is as a rule pretty high:

"It follows that a power of entry should exist only where strict criteria are met. The first main criterion is that the breach of law which the power of entry is intended to prevent or reveal should be relatively serious. Offences of a minor regulatory kind should not require the same enforcement powers as serious criminal offences, and it may be that any power of entry to premises at all would be disproportionate to the relative triviality of the offence. If a power of entry is to exist, it must be shown that the inconvenience and disruption to individual owners and occupiers of premises is outweighed by the necessary benefit to the public – for example, that the power is needed to protect public health or to ensure that public money is not being wasted.

Given that there is absolutely no reason to think that anything criminal, serious or otherwise, is going on in the households of most HEors (these homes are often full of friends and family coming and going,) how can it be argued that Badman's proposed measures are proportionate? The inconvenience and disruption far outweighs the public benefit, since local authorities will end up inspecting thousands of perfectly healthy families at great length and expense whilst social service departments haven't a hope of keeping up with the number of actual cases of abuse that are known to them.

5. The second basic test is that the power of entry should be essential for the effective enforcement of the law in question. Sponsoring Departments should ask themselves whether the law could be enforced without a power of entry and what would happen if there were no such power. Only if it is apparent that a power of entry is a vital element in enforcing the law and that the consequences to the public of not having one would be serious, should a power be included.

We seriously doubt that an occasional visit from a LA authority inspector will reliably detect abuse, in the rare cases where it does exist. Wouldn't it be better to rely on a network of people in the community who actually know the children and the family?

Looks to me as if Badman fails on both counts.


Anonymous said...

It certainly fails on many counts. It is discriminatory and it is disproportionate.

It is also a call for flagrant violations of our current laws.

It is certainly a civil rights issue.

It is blatantly obvious that Badman is not a lawyer.


Elizabeth said...

"It is blatantly obvious that Badman is not a lawyer"

What a total waste of money to run such a review without taking the advice of legal people?

Although maybe they did.....

Anonymous said...

Umm interesting website link. I was a bit shocked by the number of posts by those who obviously can't see anything wrong in dear ol'Badman's report. (So long as it doesn't effect them I suppose).
Where do they get so brainwashed?

emma said...

I wrote a post...