Thursday, 28 March 2013

Recreated, In Full, For Later Reference

Identifying and Dealing with "Child Savers"*

Thomas D. Oellerich*

ABSTRACT: Child sexual abuse is immoral and should be condemned. However, equally immoral is the activity perpetrated by "child savers." These are professionals who, in their zeal to protect alleged child and adult victims of child sexual abuse, adversely impact the lives of individuals and families. The primary purpose of this paper is to provide a set of indicators which should alert practitioners that they are in the presence of these professionals. A second purpose is to recommend alternative ways for social workers and the profession to deal with child savers.

The recent allegations of sexual abuse in Wenatchee, Washington suggest that the zealotry that marked such cases as the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, California, the Wee Care Day Care Center in New Jersey, the Little Rascals Day Care Center in North Carolina, and Faith Chapel in San Diego persists. These cases represent a twentieth-century witch hunt. Child sexual abuse is immoral and illegal. Some children need protection. But, as indicated by these and other cases (Nathan & Snedeker, 1995), they and their families need protection as well from present day "child savers" (Wexler, 1995). These are the descendants of the child saving and child rescue movements of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Costin, 1985; Wexler, 1995). They are the professionals-social workers, therapists, physicians, law enforcement personnel, prosecutors-who, in their zeal to protect children, instead harm them and devastate the lives of families (Freyd, et al., 1993; Tavris, 1993; Wexler, 1995; & the newsletters of the FMS Foundation).

The purpose of this paper is twofold: 1) to identify those indicators that should lead one to suspect a professional is a child saver, and, 2) to make recommendations to social work practitioners and the profession to deal with this category of professionals.

The Indicators for Child Savers

A review of the literature suggests that child savers manifest certain beliefs concerning the problem of child sexual abuse. These beliefs, in turn, can serve as indicators for suspecting a professional may be a child saver.

The Proselytizer

The first indicator that a professional may be a child saver is when he or she becomes a proselytizer. This professional spreads the gospel of satanic ritual abuse, despite the absence of corroborative evidence for such allegations. Lanning (1991) reported that, despite intensive investigations over an eight-year period, law enforcement officials had found no credible evidence supporting allegations of ritual abuse. A five-year governmentally-funded study, conducted by Goodman, Qin, Bottoms, and Shaver (1994), concluded that hard evidence for satanic ritual abuse "was scant to nonexistent" (p. 6). And, more recently, Bottoms and Davis (1997) observed that there never were highly organized satanic ritual abuse cults in this country. They based this conclusion on their own surveys, the fact that the police and FBI agents have never found evidence of satanic ritual abuse, and the discrediting of and the recantations by alleged victims.

But the child savers firmly believe the claims of ritualistic abuse and continue to promulgate this notion (Goodman et al., 1994; Bottoms & Davis, 1997; Bottoms, Shaver, & Goodman, 1996). They reject reports as biased that do not corroborate the existence of satanic ritual abuse. The evidence, however, confirms the conclusion of the San Diego Grand Jury (1992, June), which investigated that county's child protective system and concluded that:

the existence of satanic ritual abuse is a contemporary myth perpetuated by a small number of social workers, therapists, and law enforcement members who ... cannot be dissuaded by a lack of physical evidence (p. 18).

This contemporary myth is far from benign. As Bottoms and Davis (1997) point out, those who become involved with these professionals may live the rest of their lives with a false, painful belief. And they may act on this belief with untold harm to innocent individuals. These are often parents who are subjected to misguided lawsuits and imprisonment for crimes they did not commit.

The Validator

Second, child savers are those professional interveners who should remain objective but do not. They act as validators (Gardner, 1991). These professionals have as their purpose to "validate" even the most bizarre of allegations. The investigation of the Alicia Wade case by the San Diego Grand Jury (1992, June) revealed that county's child protective system to be inherently biased and unable to detect or correct its errors. In this system, social workers, therapists, investigators, and prosecutors operated on the presumption that an allegation of child sexual abuse meant that the abuse had in fact occurred. Evidence to the contrary was routinely ignored.

Indeed, the Grand Jury (1992, February) reported that some social workers may well have committed perjury in order to gain convictions. Lorandos (1995) also reports social workers withholding or falsifying information in civil proceedings in order to secure a judgment they deemed "in the best interests of the child."

The Exaggerator

Third, child savers are those professionals who disseminate exaggerated claims of the prevalence of child sexual abuse in this country. For example, they refer to the work of Russell (1983) or Wyatt (1985). Russell reported that more than half (54%) of all women experienced some form of intra- and extrafamilial sexual abuse prior to age 18; Wyatt, that more than three-fifths (62%) of women had. As noted by Okami (1990), these prevalence rates far exceed the rates reported in virtually all other major studies.

These high rates, according to Okami, are the result of using moral and political criteria to define abuse. In this context, Okami points out that Russell's study was severely compromised by her selection and training of her interviewers. Moreover, both studies dismissed self-reports of inconsequential or of loving, noncoercive adult/nonadult sexual interactions as invalid interpretations of their experiences.

In point of fact, the actual prevalence of child sexual abuse is not known. Reports of prevalence from different surveys range from 6% to 62% for females and from 3% to 30% for males (Geffner, 1992; Peters, Wyatt, & Finkelhor, 1986). Such a range of numbers hardly instills confidence about what is really known about the prevalence of child sexual abuse.

Estimates of the prevalence of child sexual abuse are complicated by variations in the definitions of sexual abuse, as Levitt and Pinnell (1995) note in their review of the literature. Definitions vary with respect to the types of behavior that is to be included, the age differences between those involved, and the presence or absence of coercion and/or force (Browne & Finkelhor, 1986). Thus, some studies define sexual abuse as including everything from exhibitionism to rape to incestuous intercourse. Others use more narrow criteria. As a result, Levitt and Pinnell conclude that it is impossible to determine the true prevalence of child sexual abuse.

In a similar fashion, the child savers prefer referring to the numbers of reported cases of child sexual abuse. They ignore the fact that considerably less than half of reported cases are substantiated (Lorandos & Campbell, 1995).

Additionally, child savers claim that the increased rate of reported cases reflects a real increase in prevalence. Thus, they assert there is an epidemic of child sexual abuse (Loftus & Ketcham, 1994). But the evidence does not support this claim. Feldman, et al. (1991) compared data obtained in the 1970s and 1980s with data from the 1940s and found that the prevalence rates were similar. Kilpatrick (1992), in her study of 501 women from Florida and Georgia, found, when her data were analyzed by different age groups, a definite trend toward decreasing sexual activity among those 14 and under over the past 60 years, while the trend for adolescents had remained constant over that same period of time.

The child savers, however, prefer the larger numbers, as these provide them with what Gilbert (1991) refers to as "advocacy numbers" as opposed to legitimate numbers. Advocacy numbers are figures that are used to persuade public opinion that a problem is significantly greater than is generally recognized, rather than attempting to foster scientific understanding.

The Trauma Ideologist

Fourth, child savers are purveyors of what Schultz (1980) refers to as trauma ideology. Trauma ideologists regard every incident of sexual abuse as inevitably psychologically harmful, even devastating (Cole, 1982). That sexual contacts of a minor with an adult might be experienced without harm or even positively, is, to the child savers, heresy. For example, Kilpatrick (1992) concluded that early child and adolescent sexual experiences, unless there was force or high pressure involved, had no influence on later adult functioning regardless of the type of partner involved (i.e., relative or non-relative) or the age differences. She reported that, when she discussed her findings with professionals, they closed their ears to them. They were most closed to those findings that indicated positive reactions to these early sexual experiences and to those findings that indicated that incestuous experiences did not cause irreparable harm (p. xviii).

The evidence suggests that, although child sexual abuse is potentially psychologically damaging, this is not always the case. A review of 45 studies by Kendall-Tackett, Williams, and Finkelhor (1993) concludes that up to 49% of the sexually abused children suffered no psychological harm. Thus, Kendall-Tackett, et al. concluded that a lack of symptoms could not be used to rule out sexual abuse since "there are too many sexually abused children who are apparently asymptomatic" (p. 175).

Among those with psychological harm, Kendall-Tackett, et al. report that some become worse. However, the majority of studies in this review indicated that, when the sexually abused children in treatment were compared with nonabused children in treatment, the sexually abused were less symptomatic than their nonabused clinical counterparts. In addition, the majority of those showing psychological harm improved markedly within 12 to 18 months with or without treatment.

In an earlier review of 28 studies, Browne and Finkelhor (1986) concluded that, when studied as adults, less than 20% of those who had been sexually abused as children had serious psychopathology as adults. Browne and Finkelhor observed that these findings should provide comfort to victims since severe long-term effects were not inevitable. They note with concern the efforts of child advocates to exaggerate the harmful effects for political purposes because of its potential to harm the victims and their families.

That the claims of harm are exaggerated and, indeed, may well be inaccurate is substantiated in a landmark study by Rind and Tromovitch (1997). These researchers noted that most of the prior reviews had drawn upon clinical and legal samples, which are not representative of the general population. They conducted a meta-analysis of seven studies that used national probability samples, which are more appropriate for making population relevant inferences. The studies included four from the United States, and one each from Great Britain, Canada, and Spain. Their findings indicated that harm from child sexual abuse is not pervasive among those who experienced early sexual experiences. Further, the harm, when it occurs, is not serious.

These findings confirm the earlier findings of Kinsey and his associates (1953) who found that, among those participants (24%) who had had sexual contact with adults in their childhood, 80% recalled being emotionally upset by these contacts. However, in all but a few cases, the negative effect was "nearer the level that children will show when they see insects, spiders, or other objects against which they have been adversely conditioned" (p. 121).

Moreover, Rind and Tromovitch's meta-analysis supports the view that the behaviors and attitudes exhibited by the sexually abused are unlikely to be the effects of the sexual abuse. They may be the result, instead, of preexisting problems, or even of professional and community intervention, as earlier reported by Constantine (1981).

Further, there is no sound research supporting the stereotypical linkage of child sexual abuse and later adult psychopathology. Existing research in this regard is so seriously methodologically flawed that it is virtually valueless, according to Pope and Hudson (1995). A similar conclusion was arrived at by staff of the False Memory Foundation (Staff, 1996, September) who, with the help of members of the Foundation's Scientific Advisory Committee, analyzed the research in this area. They identified the assumption that childhood sexual abuse results in the development of psychiatric disorders in adulthood as a leading candidate to join the ranks of other mental health myths. They noted that

to question the pathogenic effects of childhood sexual abuse is often considered heretical-just as it would have been scandalous, a generation ago, to question whether bad mothering could turn children into schizophrenics (p. 3).

It is, in fact, far from proven that childhood sexual abuse has any significant influence upon the adult personality. As noted by Seligman (1994), adults are not prisoners of their past, even a past marked by childhood trauma.

That child sexual abuse may not be harmful is not to condone it or to suggest that it should not be considered either immoral or illegal or both. Conte (1985) has pointed out that decisions concerning the appropriateness of adult/nonadult sexual interactions involve ethical, legal, and religious principles. By way of example, robbery is unlawful not because it results in psychological harm but because society has decided that people have a right to their own property. Put another way, the question of the effects of child sexual abuse should not be confused with the moral and/or legal issue of dealing with this behavior.

The Therapy Marketeer

The final indicator suggesting a professional may be a child saver is when the professional acts as a therapy marketeer, exaggerating the need for therapy for the victims of sexual abuse. From 44% to 73% of victims are likely to receive some form of psychotherapy (Finkelhor & Berliner, 1995; Miller, Cohen, & Wiersema, 1996). This, of course, is in line with a belief in the trauma ideology.

Many children, however, are referred to therapy who do not need to be. The fact that significant numbers of the sexually abused are not psychologically harmed and those who are improve within a year or two without any treatment attests to the minimal need, if any, for therapy. Thus, the concern expressed by the San Diego Grand Jury (1992, February) that referrals to therapists were simply "feeding another subindustry of the System" (p. 37) is well founded. The approach of the psychotherapeutic community to child sexual abuse reflects a mental health industry searching for a new disease which offers it new opportunities for economic growth (Costin, Karger, & Stoesz 1996).

Further, there is no sound research evidence indicating that therapy for the sexually abused is effective (Berliner, 1995; Berliner & Elliott, 1996; Reid, 1996). Holenberg and Ragan (1991) reported in their synthesis of selected research projects funded by the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect that most of the information on treatment efficacy was based on anecdotal case studies or descriptions of treatment programs.

Most treatment programs are either atheoretical or based on untested theoretical assumptions (Friedrich, 1996). And this is to the everlasting harm of some (Campbell, 1994). For example, in the Alicia Wade case, it was as a result of her therapist's brainwashing in over of year of so-called therapy involving twice weekly visits that Alicia finally "disclosed" that her father had raped her (San Diego Grand Jury, 1992, June 23). In fact, as Alicia had previously maintained, she had been raped by a stranger — and it turned out he was a serial rapist!

Lest this be seen as idiosyncratic, a recently completed evaluation of repressed memory claims with the State of Washington's Crime Victims Compensation Program (Loftus, 1997; Parr, 1996) clearly indicates the potential for the harm that can be inflicted by therapy. Some therapists believe that childhood sexual abuse is a central experience in the lives of their clients (Campbell, 1994). They contend that the trauma of child sexual abuse motivates the patients to repress this experience. Given the centrality of this experience, these therapists assume it is necessary for their patients to recover previously repressed memories of their sexual abuse if they are to heal.

But quite the opposite can occur, as indicated by Parr's (1996) study. She reported that patients involved in repressed memory therapy displayed

an unusually high rate of mental and emotional problems which manifest during therapy and are proliferated as therapy continues. Repressed memory patients tend to be in therapy significantly longer than other mental health clients but with little improvement in their conditions even after years of therapy. Indeed, it appears that the longer the patient is [in] treatment, the more disabled s(he) will become. Of significant concern is that over the course of time, repressed memory patients often become isolated from their families and communities, suffer employment and financial losses and demonstrate devastating mental problems which diminishes their capacity to form or maintain meaningful relationships or enjoy life (Parr, pp. 1-2).

Moreover, anecdotal case studies show that therapists have implanted memories of childhood sexual abuse that never occurred (Loftus & Ketcham, 1994; Ofshe & Watters, 1994; the newsletters of the FMS Foundation).

Additionally, there is growing evidence that the recent epidemic of Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) is an artifact of therapy. It is a therapist induced disorder rather than an effect of child sexual abuse (McHugh, 1993; Ofshe & Watters, 1994; Sarbin, 1997). Parr (1996) reported that the primary diagnosis in most repressed memory claims to the Crime Victims Compensation Program was MPD and that it was not unusual for the claimant to have dozens or even hundreds of personalities — one claim involved over 700 alter states and another over 3000. Parr's findings buttress the conclusion of Ofshe and Watters:

Examining the fad diagnosis of MPD, the cruelty of recovered memory therapy becomes particularly clear. Thousands of clients have learned to display the often-debilitating symptoms of a disorder that they never had. They become less capable of living normal lives, more dependent on therapy, and inevitably more troubled (p. 223).

Lastly, there is no evidence that reliving the abuse experience has any positive effects. Seligman (1994) notes that, although catharsis has a long history as a therapeutic technique, there is no evidence that it works. He adds that efforts by parents and well-meaning therapists and courts of law often magnify the trauma in the child's mind by repeatedly tearing off the protective scar tissue of the wound. Thus, these well-intentioned people are actually interfering with the natural healing process.


In brief, child savers are those professionals who purport to protect victims of child sexual abuse but who instead harm them and devastate the lives of families. They have certain beliefs which are red flags for identifying them: 1) a proselytizer who spreads the false gospel of satanic ritual abuse; 2) a validator who confirms uncorroborated allegations of sexual abuse no matter how bizarre; 3) an exaggerator or user of advocacy numbers; 4) a trauma ideologist; and 5) a therapy marketeer.


How should social workers and the profession protect the community from the harm caused by child saving and how should these perpetrators be dealt with? Nathan and Snedeker (1995) note that "the demonization of child sexual abuse as society's ultimate evil has rendered it so holy as to be virtually immune to reasoned analysis" (p. 252). It is this atmosphere of hysteria which breeds and sustains the child saver. Social workers and the profession can and must do a number of things to minimize, if not eliminate, this atmosphere of hysteria and mitigate the impact of the child savers. These include:

1. Social workers and the profession need to rid themselves of the socio-political and legalistic biases contained in the use of such terms as "victims" and "perpetrators." As recommended by Nelson and Meller (1994), until damage has been established, such terms as "participant" or "partner" would be better to use.

Further, professionals should reserve the use of condemnatory terms to those situations where damage is clearly established. Nelson and Meller recommended that the terms, "molestation" and "rape," should be used only when it has been determined that coercion was indeed present. To define experiences as abusive which are described by the allegedly abused as loving, caring, or noncoercive is a contradiction in terms (Okami, 1994). Hence, the term, "abuse," should be replaced by such terms as "experience" or "incident" until it is determined that the episode was, in fact, harmful.

2. Kilpatrick (1992) noted there is an assumption that children who have sexual experiences with or propositions from persons who are 5 or more years older than they, "are automatically victimized, and harm is done" (p. 115). This notion is derived from what Okami (1994) referred to as the sex-political principle. This principle assumes that the differential degrees of social power accorded older persons and younger persons automatically define any sexual contact between such persons as abusive. Kilpatrick's findings repudiate this assumption. She found that the relative age of the woman's partner in her early sexual experience(s) was not related to her adult functioning. Accordingly, practitioners should not assume an abusive situation until it has been established the situation entailed coercion and/or was in fact harmful.

3. Social work practitioners and the profession must educate the community and, most especially, the courts about the myths that surround the problem of child sexual abuse. It is these myths that fuel the hysteria surrounding considerations of childhood sexuality (Okami, 1994). First, professionals need to rebut the myth that early sexual experiences are necessarily and inevitably psychologically harmful. It is not the function of professionals or the profession to provide a psychological justification for the fact that such experiences are and/or should be illegal and/or immoral. This is a lesson that mental health professionals should have learned from the controversy over homosexuality.

Next, the profession and professionals must inform the community that therapy is most often unnecessary and is contraindicated in most cases of early sexual experiences. Indeed, professionals must make the community aware that therapy is potentially harmful and that it may well interfere with the natural healing processes. Seligman (1994), in writing of his early experiences with what today would be labeled child sexual abuse, asserted these experiences had no negative impact on his later psychological adjustment. He attributed this to his having been spared the overreaction of parents and police, and early therapeutic intervention to undo his "denial," and later therapeutic intervention to recover his "repressed" memory and then reliving the experience to heal his current problems. Parents and the community should be advised to follow Seligman's recommendation "to turn the volume down as soon as possible" (p. 235).

4. Tavris (1993) denounced the "incest-survivor machine" as a multi-million dollar industry built around the concept of child sexual abuse. The average cost associated with repressed memory claims in the state of Washington's Crime Victims Compensation Program was approximately four times the average claim in other mental health claims (Parr, 1996). The average cost of nonrepressed memory claim was less than $3,000; that of repressed memory claims, more than $12,000, with one claim exceeding $50,000. In just over four years, the citizens of Washington paid out over 2.5 million dollars for 325 repressed memory claims. Most of the diagnoses in this program involved MPD.

Parr's study confirms Piper's (1994) contention that psychotherapy for this condition is far from being cost effective. It is, however, highly lucrative for the therapists. In a similar vein, a recent report of the National Institute of Justice found that up to 50% and more of the child sexual abuse victims receive mental health care at an average cost of $5,800 (Miller, et al., 1996). This contrasts with a usage rate of no more than 4% for victims of other crimes with an average cost of less than $100.

Given the absence of sound research evidence demonstrating the efficacy of therapy and its potential for harm, the profession and practitioners should support private health insurance companies and government health care programs to follow the lead of the state of Washington and not reimburse for any treatments deemed experimental, such as those aimed at the recovery of memories of sexual abuse (Staff, 1997 March; 1997 April).

Or, at the very least, as recommended by Parr (1996), treatment should follow managed care restrictions for short-term, limited intervention. Thus, the financial incentives of therapists to operate what Campbell (1994) refers to as "rent-a-friend" agencies with long-term leases will be undermined. These serve the therapists' interests but not those of their clients.

5. The profession and practitioners must work toward the passage of informed consent laws in the provision of psychotherapy. Indiana is the first state to pass such legislation (Freyd, 1997, June). Given the harm that can occur as a result of treatment, patients have an ethical right and must have a legal right to be informed of the risks as well as the potential benefits of therapy. The risks include suicidal ideation, self-mutilation, and mental decompensation necessitating inpatient hospitalization (Ofshe & Watters, 1994; Parr, 1996). With this information, prospective patients can make an informed decision as to whether to subject themselves or their children to the risks associated with treatment.

Additionally, the patient's spouse or partner, and other family members need also to be advised of the side effects of therapy. They need to be prepared for the new and often bizarre behavior that the patient may exhibit. They need to know how they are to cope with these changes.

6. In light of the harm that can and does occur to patients, social work practitioners must act to support patients in their efforts to sue their therapists. Practitioners need to have available a list of attorneys to whom they can refer their clients to pursue such lawsuits.

Successful lawsuits have been brought against therapists. For example, most recently, Patricia Burgus won an out-of-court settlement of $10.6 million against the Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital, and Drs. Poznanski and Braun for having implanted false memories of sexual abuse (Belluck, 1997). Earlier, the Wade family lawsuit against San Diego County and the professionals who brought about their tragedy was settled for $3.7 (Hagen, 1997). Two former patients of Dr. Diane Humenansky in Minnesota won multimillion dollar judgments against her for implanting false memories of sexual abuse (Staff, 1996, March). A San Diego jury ordered Dr. Virginia Humphrey to pay $1.9 million in a malpractice suit brought by a father on behalf of his minor daughter who had been misdiagnosed as having been sexually abused (Staff, 1996, October). This led the child to bring allegations of sexual abuse against her father. And, also in San Diego, church day care volunteer, Dale Akiki, acquitted of charges of ritual abuse, settled out-of-court for an estimated $800,000 (Nathan & Snedeker, 1995).

7. Social workers and the profession must also support efforts to pass legislation to allow lawsuits by third parties. Third parties can suffer considerable psychological harm at the hands of therapists who practice scientifically unproven and dangerous therapy or who negligently administer traditional therapy. Recently, two state appellate courts ruled that therapists owe a duty to the person that their patient falsely accuses of sexual abuse as a result of the therapist's misdiagnosis (Staff, 1998, May).

8. The profession should seek passage of legislation to assure that therapists who abuse their clients are subject to criminal prosecution and the same penalties as is any "perpetrator" of abuse.

9. The profession should establish as a standard of practice that those who have a history of having been sexually abused should not practice in the area of sexual abuse. As pointed out by Gardner (1991), many professionals are attracted to the field because they themselves were molested. And many then become validators. This was underscored by Kenneth Lanning, the FBI expert, who noted that these professionals often have a hidden agenda, which is to recruit the children they question "to the brotherhood and sisterhood of the sexually abused" (as quoted in Wexler, 1995, p. 157).

10. Social workers and the profession must seek the passage of legislation which denies absolute immunity to sexual abuse investigators who conduct an incompetent investigation. Most especially, validators must be denied absolute immunity.

11. Those professionals who falsify information or perjure themselves must be subject to criminal prosecution. A first step in this direction was taken in Texas. Here a federal grand jury handed down criminal indictments against two psychiatrists, a psychologist, a social worker, and a hospital administrator for fraud related to the practice of memory techniques (Freyd, 1997, December).


In conclusion, child sexual abuse is both immoral and illegal and should be condemned. But there is another form of abuse-this is the abuse perpetrated by the child savers. This abuse devastates the lives of individuals and families. It too must be condemned.


* An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Annual Conference of the National Association of Social Workers, Cleveland, Ohio, November 14, 1996.

Thomas D. Oellerich is Associate Professor, Department of Social Work, at Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, 45701-9601 (


Excerpt from "Identifying and Dealing with 'Child Savers'", Issues in Child Abuse Accusations, vol. 10, 1998, pp. 1-5, 7.


Rind, Tromovitch, and Bauserman: Politically Incorrect - Scientifically Correct



Request To The Information Commissioner's Office, Regarding Universal Jobmatch Privacy Issues


Nigel Oldfield, 7 Mar, to casework,

Dear Sir or Madam,

I refer you to my previous communication:


Nigel Oldfield 24/12/2012

Dear Sir or Madam,

As you may be aware, the DWP appears to be on the verge of making access to The Universal Jobmatch system, mandatory, for those claiming certain benefits.

The system uses multiple cookies, from the DWP/Monster, so as to monitor claimants' activities, whenever it will choose to do so.

It appears, that the suggested mandatory nature, can only require, that these cookies be accepted and maintained; to not do so, will lead to sanctions and loss of benefits.

For personal, security, reasons, I clean my PC, at regular intervals. I am sure you will recognise, how these conflicting issues will be a problem, in the future, for many users.

Have you (or others) done any preliminary work, with the DWP (or others), on the legality and ramifications, of this issue?

I look forward to your reply.


Dr Nigel Leigh Oldfield"


"Response from the Information Commissioner's Office[Ref. ENQ*******], 14:38 (1 hour ago), to me, PROTECT, 28 March 2013

Case Reference Number ENQ*******

Dear Dr Oldfield

We are now in a position to provide you with a response to your enquiry regarding the DWP’s Universal Jobmatch system and we apologise for the length of time it has taken to respond to you.

Following a number of enquiries/complaints which we received regarding the DWP and the new Universal Jobmatch service, our Strategic Liaison department contacted the DWP to raise concerns about the new online service, particularly in relation to the quality of information about the service, security of the site and contradictory messages about whether it was mandatory or not. We also highlighted to the DWP people’s concerns about the wording of the terms and conditions, particularly the disclaimers about who could access people’s information, and the lack of clarity about who was the data controller for the online service.

Organisations that process personal information are required to do so in accordance with the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). The first data protection principle states that personal data shall be processed ‘fairly and lawfully’ and a key element of fairness is ensuring people know who is processing their information and how it will be used. We raised our concerns with the DWP and advised that they should review the information they were providing to ensure it complied with the DPA requirements and we recommended that privacy notices should be visible, easy to access and written in a way that could be easily understood by their client group. We also advised of the lack of clarity about which organisation was responsible for the personal data on the Universal Jobmatch online service.

DWP confirmed that the Universal Jobmatch site is a separate, bespoke job search site created for DWP by Monster. It also confirmed that security safeguards had been built into the site but accepted that the disclaimers in the terms and conditions made it appear that this was not the case. DWP informed us that the site was secure and they would look again at the privacy notice and terms and conditions to ensure these complied with the DPA.

In response to contradictory information about whether the service was compulsory or not, DWP confirmed on 28 February that Jobseeker Allowance claimants could be required to use the Universal Jobmatch service from 1 March 2013, and that this could well be mandatory.

It would appear that to a large extent the enquiries/complaints we have received mainly resulted from unclear information provided through either their websites or staff. We now understand after consulting with the DWP that they have revised the privacy policy, provided additional guidance to advisers, produced leaflets and used easier to understand information about the scheme. We also understand that the terms and conditions have been replaced by a webpage on ‘standards of behaviour for jobseekers’ (see link below). DWP has also assured us that they have taken additional steps to guard against bogus employers, including increased checks on employer and vacancy details.

Moving forward from this point

If you now have any further concerns in relation to the Universal Jobmatch process, its implementation or the DWP services then you will need to raise these directly with the DWP. It is not within our remit to comment on how this process works or the fact that this has now become a mandatory process.

If you wish to raise concerns with the DWP you can access information about their complaint process through this link -

We are satisfied that the DWP have taken on board the nature of the complaints and enquiries we have received in relation to Universal Jobmatch and matters of concern with the DPA and that they have put the necessary steps in place to comply with the DPA.

Therefore, if you have specific concerns in relation to your personal data and compliance with the DPA, then in the first instance you would need to raise this in writing with the DWP to give them the opportunity to look into your concerns and respond to you.

If after doing this you are not satisfied with their response you may be able to raise this as a complaint with our office, for further information on this process please helpline on 0303 123 1113 to discuss your concerns.

I appreciate that this information may not address all your concerns but hope this satisfies the DPA element for which our office regulates. If you wish to know more about the DPA please see our website Yours sincerely

Thomas Booker
Case Officer - First Contact Group
Information Commissioner’s Office
Direct dial number - 01625 545552

The ICO’s mission is to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

If you are not the intended recipient of this email (and any attachment), please inform the sender by return email and destroy all copies. Unauthorised access, use, disclosure, storage or copying is not permitted.

Communication by internet email is not secure as messages can be intercepted and read by someone else. Therefore we strongly advise you not to email any information, which if disclosed to unrelated third parties would be likely to cause you distress. If you have an enquiry of this nature please provide a postal address to allow us to communicate with you in a more secure way. If you want us to respond by email you must realise that there can be no guarantee of privacy.

Any email including its content may be monitored and used by the Information Commissioner's Office for reasons of security and for monitoring internal compliance with the office policy on staff use. Email monitoring or blocking software may also be used. Please be aware that you have a responsibility to ensure that any email you write or forward is within the bounds of the law.

The Information Commissioner's Office cannot guarantee that this message or any attachment is virus free or has not been intercepted and amended. You should perform your own virus checks. __________________________________________________________________
Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF, Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web:"


Universal Jobmatch website – Standards of Behaviour for Jobseekers (DWP)

Universal Jobmatch website – Standards of Behaviour for Jobseekers (DWP)



Thursday, 21 March 2013

Read It And Weep 8

*****RIAW 7, here: RIAW 6, here: RIAW 5, here: RIAW 4, here:
RIAW 3, here: RIAW 2, here: RIAW 1, here.*****



Forced Labour (WP/WF/WCA), Welfare, Entitlements and General


‘Food stamps’ to be issued in Britain next week to tens of thousands of vulnerable people as part of benefits shake-up (DM)

A portrait of desperate Britain: 4,000 job seekers queue for chance of employment at new shopping centre (DM)

Area Leader in A4E Ltd
Sanctions - shocking story

Who cares?

Jobcentre boss denies use of targets for applying sanctions to jobseekers (Guardian)

Targets - what about the Work Programme?

Labour demands action over jobcentre targets (Guardian)
Provider ends contract due to ‘unsustainable Work Programme’

Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Workfare Bill

The work programme: experience of different user groups: UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE

Inside Prospects: Work Programme (London)
The Does It Work? Programme
Work Programme

Only 60 per cent of voluntary sector providers 'intend to stay in the Work Programme'
Budget 2013: Hidden agenda to cut Social Security Welfare further

A GOVERNMENT work programme called Ingeus has been helping Bankies get a successful 'response' on the job market

A4e coach Suzanne Green wins top award

Sturgeon: we'll kick out the bedroom tax in an independent Scotland
Landlord to end work programme contract

More from the Guardian on targets for sanctions

Jobcentre was set targets for benefit sanctions (Guardian)

Government admits Jobcentres set targets to take away benefits (Guardian)

Iain Duncan Smith denies jobcentres have targets for sanctioning benefits (Guardian)

Work Programme: Report highlights problems (BBC)
Second Work Programme evaluation report: Commissioning and supply chain management

Work Programme Evaluation: Procurement, supply chains and implementation of the commissioning model (CESI/DWP)

RR 832 Work Programme Evaluation: Procurement, supply chains and implementation of the commissioning model (DWP)

Work Programme Evaluation: March 2013
Five things the government won’t tell you about Workfare

Work Programme – Not Working

The Work Programme isn't working
G4S: Some subcontractors on Work Programme not delivering

Lessons from the Work Programme in the reform of rehabilitation services

Work programme fails young people

Work Programme
Work Programme target levels “too ambitious”, says select committee

Charities focus on failings of Work Programme (HS)
Workfare profiteers A4e and Ingeus targeted 

Work Programme

Thank God for the bishops 

Work Programme 'depends on economy'

Let’s ditch workfare and introduce the Community Allowance instead

Let social landlords run the Work Programme

Guidance Officer - Work Programme

Work Programme – Outcome Statistics (2012) (HMG/DWP)

DWP seeks law change to avoid benefit repayments after Poundland ruling (Independent)

Work programme jobseekers denied compensation for docked benefits
Programme 'failing single parents' (E&S)

Report says Work Programme and job centre fail to deliver for single parents

Where next for back-to-work support? (NS)

Opinion: welfare reform and the effect on lone workers
JHP Employability – workfare pimps
Welfare reform 'black hole' appears outside fish shop
Derbyshire welfare-to-work trial rejected by 60 on benefits (BBC)
Byrne, L - Work Programme sanctions
What is Work Experience?

Boycott Workfare

Final evidence session on the Work Programme (CSC)

Access to Work Programme
Work Programme
Welsh Affairs Committee - Citizens Advice Cymru; Oxfam Cymru - The Work Programme in Wales

The Work Programme in Wales
Work Programme
Work and Pensions Committee - Business Disability Forum; de Poel; Timpson; TfL - Work Programme

Pearson - Work Programme
Council work experience scheme goes from strength to strength (WSCT)

PRESS RELEASE - Paralympian Helen Arbuthnot motivates jobseekers on the Work Programme to find employment

Ex drug users and alcoholics 'can make the best workers' says Iain Duncan Smith (Telegraph)

Barclays recruit 1,000 more apprentices and launch new youth working programm

Apprenticeships are a 'poor relation' to university, working parents tell CIPD

Unemployed Barrow man lands job due to Evening Mail (NWEM)

Bath success for back-to-work scheme (BC)
NFC and Work Program Referral (FOIR)
Work Capability Assessment

Universal Credit test launches in 7 weeks
A brief history of "social housing"


Universal Credit


Landlords to gather for universal credit talk (LDE)

Universal Credit local services support framework paper (CAB)

Legal threat over Universal Credit scheme
Universal Credit not at odds with agile, says former chief
The Free School Lunches and Milk (Universal Credit) (England) Order 2013

The Universal Credit (Consequential, Supplementary, Incidental and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2013
Universal Credit Regulations

Universal Credit toolkit for partner organisations (DWP)   

New childcare policy excludes nearly 1m of UK's poorest families (Guardian)
Will rent arrears increase after Universal Credit introduction?

Ministers may increase direct payment exceptions

A New Patient Exemption - Universal Credit

Universal Credits

North West to benefit from Universal Credit
Universal Credit: A 'springboard' into local and better banking
Get ready for Universal Credit

Universal Credit Toolkit - Money Advice Service
Has the Universal Credit scheme already failed?

Universal Credit calculations 'will be done manually with spreadsheets'

Digital drive could take down universal credit
IDA services put on ice for Universal Credit delivery

Universal credit pilots issue digital access warning
Digital Exclusion (Universal Credit)

The vultures circle over Universal Credit IT
Universal credit benefits system 'in meltdown', claims Labour (Guardian)

DWP denies major IT problems with One Dole To Rule Them All system

MP adamant Universal Credit IT suppliers told to down tools

Universal credit: Concerns raised over IT system (BBC)

Universal Credit – computer says no? 

Implementing Universal Credit and supporting service users 
Universal Credit and Online Claims

Universal Credit
The Rent Officers (Universal Credit Functions) Order 2013
Households hammered: 9 in 10 families to be worse off by 2015 by up £2,000 a year (M)

Universal Credit: How will changes in state benefits affect me? (M)
Universal Credit – how it works and criticisms

Are we ready for Universal Credit?
Universal Credit

Universal Credit
Universal Credit: questions remain over implementation
Supplementary Estimates 2012-13 — Department for Work and Pensions — Universal Credit

Welsh Universal Credit trials make good tenants turn bad!

Universal Credit: Oral Answers to Questions — Wales

Plaid MP warns Universal Credit policy won't work for Wales
Universal Credit: tenants could be 'a broken washing machine away from not paying rent'

Universal Credit implementation: meeting the needs of vulnerable claimants

Opinion: is the Universal Credit challenge greater than feared?

Rent arrears soar sevenfold in Universal Credit trial

Landlords prepare for Universal Credit with direct debit switch

Universal Credit demands a new approach to bank accounts
DWP and Treasury in standoff over £145 million Universal Credit fund
London Assembly demands 'urgent review' of Universal Credit over direct payment fears
Universal credit threatens eviction amnesty
Universal Credit director ‘moves on to other work’ after just four months

Another Universal Credit leader stands down
Comment: Universal Credit should provide food for thought (MKC)

Dorset MP's concerns over new credit for poor
Universal Credit
Universal Credit

'Bedroom tax will stop new homes being built'


Universal Jobmatch


FOI Watch: DWP discloses nearly 200 Universal Jobmatch docs/updates
A Deadly Warning From Across the Ocean for Universal Jobmatch
Diary: openings galore on IDS's Universal Jobmatch website, aka the universal dog's breakfast (Independent)
Compulsory use of Universal Jobmatch (FOIR)
DWP internal Universal Jobmatch guidance published
Universal Jobmatch: Your rights
Universal Jobmatch: How to remove DWP account access if given

Universal Jobmatch: Cookies
Equality Impact Assessment for Universal Jobmatch
Universal Jobmatch faqs,(question and answer brief) (FOIR)
Guidance (FOIR)

Privacy Impact Assessment for Universal Jobmatch (FOIR)

Universal Jobmatch Toolkit Chapters 1, 2, 3 and all others (FOIR)
Written question on Universal Job Match

Universal Jobmatch Awareness Training launched in Plymouth for jobseekers

Job seekers in Devonport in Plymouth get helping hand with job-finding training sessions (PH)

Jobseekers required to use Universal Jobmatch

Universal Jobmatch Mandatory (but not ‘Blanket’) from 4th March

Universal Job Match site is now mandatory, but not problem free

4 March 2013 – Jobseekers required to use Universal Jobmatch


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Read It And Weep 7

*****RIAW 6, here RIAW 5, here: RIAW 4, here: RIAW 3, here:
RIAW 2, here: RIAW 1, here.



Forced Labour (WP/WF/WCA), Welfare, Entitlements and General


Welby’s call on welfare puts IDS on the defensive (Independent)
Business News: Numbers of employed are up as firms see benefits of taking on trainees (CT)

Council loses major contract (WT)
Work programme farce must end now

Disappointment by results
iSociety: Committee to benefit from rare sighting of welfare minister (HS)

Charity helps 900 people back into work (M24)

Work Programme 'depends on economy' (E&S)

Work Programme toils in vain to get results (TES)
Accent chief exec speaks out in response to concerns over Work Programme
Skills conditionality guidance (FOIR)
Skills Conditionality

College helps local people to manage their money

Is Chris Grayling running scared of Margaret Hodge? (NS)
Revealed: Tory scheme to get disabled back to work finds places for just TEN people (DR)

MP spends time with jobseekers (Star)

Work Programme Consultant 
'Social landlords should deliver the Work Programme'

Universal Credit


(No. 380) Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (Claims and Payments) Regulations 2013 laid before Parliament

***** The Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2013 ***** 

Universal credit has descended into universal chaos

Universal credit benefits system 'in meltdown', claims Labour
Universal credit scheme 'on track'

Universal Credit: Local Support Services Framework

Estimates day debates: Universal Credit and Regulation of Medical Implants 

Universal credit benefits system 'in meltdown', claims Labour (Guardian)

Digital access will make or break Universal Credit, say charities and HAs
Universal Credit
Universal Credit rollout 'is on course'
Universal Credit and Online Claims
Implementing Universal Credit and supporting service users
Local job services ‘vital to ensure Universal Credit works’

Universal Jobmatch


4 March 2013 – Jobseekers required to use Universal Jobmatch (DWP)

Jobseekers can be required to use Universal Jobmatch or risk losing benefits

Universal Jobmatch: Cookies
Mandating to Universal Jobmatch: Update (PCS)

TOPIC: Universal Jobmatch Latest
Universal Job Match - Do NOT sign!

Universal Jobmatch service getting '6 million searches daily'
“4 March 2013 – Jobseekers required to use Universal Jobmatch”
Universal Jobmatch – Privacy Policy

Universal Jobmatch: Update from PCS Union, March 1st 2013

Monday, 4 March 2013

Many Never Climb Them

"Everyone’s got a different landscape. And that’s a good way for it to be. Their ain’t no gay nor straight nor pedo nor bi, and certainly no normal or abnormal, no more than you can say about an ocean or a continent, this one here is normal, and that one is abnormal.

Each person is just his or her own landscape – which like any landscape is a mixture of things. We just find ourselves among all these hills and forests with all the living things within them, and sometimes we find joy in their beauty and other times we tremble at the dangers that might pop out at us at any moment.

To always see the beauty while at the same time never forgetting about the possible dangers – that is the way I think we should live. Beautiful and dangerous are useful words. They define real things that happen to us and around us – things we can know and see.

But “normal” and “abnormal” – what use are those terms? When I look around me I don’t see no normal or abnormal. I see beautiful and ugly and loving and hateful and helpful and dangerous – but no normal or abnormal.

Those are life-killing words. Those are words narrow people use to try to put life in a little box because it’s too big and unruly for them to accept on its own terms. Normal and abnormal? Pah! Show me an abnormal mountain."

A Galaxy of No-Stars, pg 109