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'Draconian' vetting scheme scrapped

A vetting scheme that would have targeted more than nine million adults will be scrapped as the Government seeks to end a "13-year assault on hard-won British freedoms", Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said.

Only those working most closely with children or vulnerable adults will need to undergo a criminal records check and the results will be able to move with individuals when they change jobs, cutting down on bureaucracy, the Government said.

The current system will be "scaled back to sensible levels whilst at the same time protecting vulnerable people", Mr Clegg said.

The changes, outlined in the Protection of Freedoms Bill, aim to scale back state powers and reverse what has been seen as the widespread erosion of civil liberties in recent years.

More than nine million people working or volunteering with children and vulnerable adults will be freed from the need to register and be monitored by the state following an overhaul of the checking regime, the Government said. Rules covering the storage of innocent people's DNA will be tightened, with DNA profiles of those who have not been convicted only being held if they have been charged with a serious crime, and then only for three years.

Powers for local authorities to snoop on people suspected of minor offences will also be cut, preventing town hall snoopers from checking bins or using anti-terror powers in school catchment area disputes.

The Bill will also set out plans to regulate CCTV and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) systems for the first time, to outlaw wheel-clamping on private land, and to ban schools from fingerprinting children without their parents' consent. It will also contain plans to make it possible for those with old convictions for consensual gay sex to apply for their record to be deleted from the police national computer.

Daniel Hamilton, from campaign group Big Brother Watch, welcomed the announcement as a "real victory for common sense".

He said: "It's scandalous that so many members of the public have been forced to undergo these intrusive and humiliating criminal records checks.

"On the DNA database, however, the bill doesn't go far enough. While today's announcement will see a ban on collecting the DNA of those arrested and not convicted of crimes today, the details of more than 1.1 million innocent people will remain on the Police database. Their records must be deleted."