The system for preventing unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups is changing. Will your organisation be affected?
What is the vetting and barring scheme?
The vetting and barring scheme was set up by the last government. It created a new body, the Independent Safeguarding Authority, which would keep and continually monitor a register of people who were “safe” to work with vulnerable people. Anyone working with children or vulnerable adults (up to 9 million people) would have to get a criminal records check, and join the register. The ISA would also maintain a “barred list” of people who were unsuitable to work with vulnerable groups.
The coalition government announced a halt to the scheme in 2010
The coalition government was concerned that the vetting and barring scheme was a disproportionate response to the risk posed by a small group of people who wished to harm children and vulnerable adults. Because of this, in June 2010, the government halted the roll-out of the vetting and barring scheme in order to carry out a review.
The government review makes a series of recommendations, which are in the process of becoming law
The recommendations from the review have now been published, and proposals to change the law have been included in the Protection of Freedoms Bill.
The main changes are to:
- Abolish the registration and monitoring of people working with vulnerable groups
- Restrict the list of people barred from working with vulnerable groups so that it only applies to people who work closely or regularly with children or vulnerable adults
- Merge the Independent Safeguarding Authority and the Criminal Records Bureau to create a new independent body that does criminal record checks and maintains a list of barred people.
Organisations that allow people on the barred list to volunteer or work with vulnerable groups are committing an offence
It remains an offence for organisations to allow people who are on the barred list to work or volunteer with children or vulnerable adults. People on the barred list commit an offence if they take on a role where they have close access to vulnerable people.
The government’s report on the ISA review summarises the recommended changes in full
There are 14 recommendations in the government review:
- A state body should continue to provide a barring function to help employers protect those at risk from people who seek to do them harm via work or volunteering roles.
- The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) should be merged and a single Non-Departmental Public Body or Agency created to provide a barring and criminal records disclosure service.
- The new barring regime should cover only those who may have regular or close contact with vulnerable groups.
- Barring should continue to apply to both paid and unpaid roles.
- Automatic barring should apply for those serious offences which provide a clear and direct indication of risk.
- Registration should be scrapped – there should be no requirement for people to register with the scheme and there will be no ongoing monitoring.
- The information used by the state barring body (currently the ISA) to make a barring decision should be serious in nature.
- Criminal records disclosures should continue to be available to employers and voluntary bodies but should be revised to become portable through the introduction of a system which allows for continuous updating.
- The new regime should retain current arrangements for referrals to the state barring body (currently the ISA) by employers and certain regulatory bodies, in circumstances where individuals have demonstrated a risk of harm to children or vulnerable adults.
- The current appeals arrangements should be retained.
- The state barring body should be given a power to vary review periods in appropriate circumstances.
- Services relating to criminal records disclosure and barring provisions should be self-financing. We recommend the Government consults on raising the cost of the criminal records disclosure fee to cover the costs incurred.
- The new system will retain two offences; it will continue to be an offence for a barred person to work with vulnerable groups in regulated activity roles. It will also be an offence for an employer or voluntary organisation knowingly to employ a barred person in a regulated activity role.
Download the government review in full