DAVID LEASK, Home Affairs Correspondent and DAMIEN HENDERSON
Nearly 200 Scots are now banned from working with children - a figure which has doubled in the last year as officials increasingly get to grips with a blacklist first introduced after the Soham murders.

The Scottish Executive yesterday said 190 men and women had been disqualified from working with children, 49 of them provisionally. That is up from the 88 names blacklisted, 26 of them provisionally, by the end of 2005, the year the new scheme was introduced.

The figures were released as ministers south of the border moved to ban an additional 13 adults from working in schools in England and Wales.

"This shows the system is working," said a spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive. "In 2005 we were starting from scratch in trying to populate this list. We are getting referrals all the time. That means people who should not be working with children are getting picked up and that is obviously positive."

The blacklist - officially called the Disqualified from Working with Children List - replaced an old register, "List 99", in 2005.

It is designed to stop people who pose a risk to youngsters ever getting jobs where they can have access to them. It was inspired by the Bichard report that followed the Soham murders.

Ian Huntley, the killer of 10-year-olds Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in 2003, got a job as a caretaker at the girls' school despite a history of allegations made against him in the past. In theory, Huntley would be the kind of person at risk of offending who would be banned from working with children.

The new list, however, has proved controversial, mostly because of its limited scope. The SNP has previously argued that the list should include all of Scotland's 3000 sex offenders. Officials at the executive, however, counter that not all sex offenders pose a risk to children.

Last night opposition parties gave a cautious welcome to the new figures. However, Fiona Hyslop, the SNP's education spokeswoman, said she had concerns over how long it had taken to put names on the list.

She said: "I wouldn't criticise the increase but I think there is an issue that there needs to be far more of those who are on the sex offenders who should be barred from working with children. There seems to have been progress in making up the list but it has been far too slow."

Ms Hyslop pointed to the Protection of Vulnerable Groups Bill, which is due to have its third stage reading in the Scottish Parliament next week, which she said would lead to a far higher proportion of people on the sex offenders list also barred from working with children.

Annabel Goldie, the Scottish Conservative leader, welcomed the increase in the list: "These new measures are identifying more people who should not be working with children. Some may see these as depressing statistics but they are absolutely necessary," she said.

The list of those disqualified from working with children is not just for sex offenders - some of those on it have been convicted of or suspected of other forms of abuse.

It includes, for example, the names of 17 men and women previously employed at Kerelaw, the residential school and secure unit in Ayrshire that was the site of Scotland's biggest-ever investigation into the sexual and physical abuse of children.

Any employer who hires anybody on the list - unless they are only provisionally named - could be prosecuted.

Blacklisted individuals will be caught by routine Disclosure Scotland checks if they try to apply for such a post.

There have been numerous referrals to the Disqualified from Working with Children list within the last few weeks.

On December 31, 2006, the list contained 128 people who had been disqualified for ever and another 36 who were provisionally banned. By February 23, those figures had risen to 141 and 49 respectively.

In England and Wales, ministers have banned 13 adults from working in schools despite previously clearing them to take up jobs with children, Education Secretary Alan Johnson said yesterday.