The new Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS), which launches today, will be delivered by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). Its tighter regulations are at the heart of the UK Government’s strategy for increasing the protection of vulnerable members of our society.
The VBS was created following the Bichard Inquiry into the Soham murders, which recommended a number of key improvements to the system that bars unsuitable individuals from working with children or vulnerable adults. Stricter controls will begin to replace existing arrangements that determine who is suitable to work with children and vulnerable adults in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The following increased safeguards will be introduced from today, further enhancing protection of children and vulnerable adults:
- it is now a criminal offence for barred individuals to apply to work with children or vulnerable adults in a wider range of posts. Employers face fines of up to £5,000 if they fail to report an employee who harms or is a risk to children or vulnerable adults and face criminal sanctions if they employ a barred individual across a wider range of work;
- the three current banning lists (POVA, POCA and List 99) will be replaced by the creation of two new barred lists administered by the ISA rather than several Government departments. From now on checks of these two lists can be made as part of an Enhanced CRB check;
- additional jobs and voluntary positions will be covered by the barring arrangements, including moderators of children’s internet chat rooms, and a large number of NHS staff;
- employers, social services and professional regulators have a duty to refer to the ISA any information such as why they stopped or considered stopping an individual from working with vulnerable groups where they consider them to have caused harm or posed a risk.
In Wales a further safeguard has been to added to strengthen the VBS definitions and prevents a person who is barred as a result of the most serious crimes such as rape, murder or kidnapping from ever working or volunteering in controlled activity.
Welsh Assembly Government Deputy Social Services Minister, Gwenda Thomas said:
“The Vetting and Barring Scheme will offer increased protection for the most vulnerable in our society. The Scheme means that more people who work with such groups in Wales will be subjected to scrutiny, but it is a common sense and proportionate approach which is designed to safeguard our children and vulnerable adults."
Public, private and voluntary organisations across Wales who work with children and vulnerable adults welcome the Scheme.
Elizabeth Flack, Head of Criminal Records Unit at Wales Council for Voluntary Action:
“It is imperative that the protection of children and vulnerable adults is of paramount importance but at the same time it is recognised that additional barriers should not be put in place to deter involvement. Welsh Assembly Government has recognised that easy access to clear and accurate guidance on safeguarding information has a part to play in this and is unique within the UK in funding a national CRB umbrella registered body – Wales Council for Voluntary Action Criminal Records Unit. The Unit, set up specifically for volunteers and the voluntary sector, provides a free service for access to CRB checks and gives advice on all aspects of disclosure and the introduction of the Vetting and Barring Scheme and the Independent Safeguarding Authority. The use of CRB disclosures and the parallel requirement to register with ISA from July 2010, when used alongside vigilance, good support and supervision, gives greater protection to all vulnerable groups for the benefit of the whole community.”
Huw Jones, Chief Executive of the Sports Council for Wales said:
“The Sports Council for Wales supports the introduction of the Vetting and Barring Scheme. It is important that the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults is integral to the provision of sport and physical activity. Whilst we welcome the new guidelines, providers of sport and physical activity should ensure that existing safe recruitment procedures remain in place.
“Within Wales we believe it is desirable to have clearly defined safeguarding expectations for sports organisations and have recently teamed up with the NSPCC (Child Protection in Sport Unit) to develop the Framework for Safeguarding and protecting children in sport in Wales."
12 October 2009