Vetting & Barring Scheme and Criminal Records Regime Review - Recommendations Announced

By admin at February 15, 2011 12:16
Filed Under: News

The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has unveiled a new scaled back employment vetting scheme and fundamental reform of criminal records checks. Announcing the findings of the parallel reviews of the Vetting & Barring Scheme and the criminal records regime on Friday 11 February Mr Clegg revealed that millions of people will be removed from the need to carry out compulsory pre-employment checks.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "The Freedoms Bill will protect millions of people from state intrusion in their private lives and mark a return to common sense government. It delivers on our commitment to restore hard-won British liberties with sweeping reforms that will end the unnecessary scrutiny of law-abiding individuals. "We inherited a messy criminal records regime that developed piecemeal and defied common sense. Our reviews concluded that the systems were not proportionate and needed to be less bureaucratic. They will now be scaled back to sensible levels whilst at the same time protecting vulnerable people."

Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone said:"I came into this department and was immediately struck by the need to look again at the vetting and barring scheme and criminal records regime. "I feel the changes that are now being made strike the balance between our own personal liberties whilst ensuring vulnerable people are protected."

Children's Minister Tim Loughton said: "Protecting children and keeping them safe remains our top priority, but it's also important that well meaning adults are not put off working or volunteering with children. "The new system will be less bureaucratic and less intimidating. It will empower organisations to ask the right questions and make all the appropriate pre-employment checks, and encourage everyone to be vigilant. "This is a common sense and proportionate approach which will ensure that children are properly protected without driving a wedge between them and adults."

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said: "Our plans will create a thorough system of checks that won't over-burden people with bureaucracy. Vulnerable people and their families will be able to have confidence in the new safeguards, while the doctors, nurses, social care workers and many others who need to be checked will have a more user-friendly system. "I look forward to working with other departments in putting the plans into action. Together we will create a better way of safeguarding some of society's most vulnerable people."

Summary of the VBS remodelling review recommendations:

a) 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.

b) 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.

c) The new barring regime should cover only those who may have regular or close contact with vulnerable groups.

d) Barring should continue to apply to both paid and unpaid roles.

e) Automatic barring should apply for those serious offences which provide a clear and direct indication of risk.

f) Registration should be scrapped - there should be no requirement for people to register with the scheme and there will be no ongoing monitoring.

g) The information used by the state barring body (currently the ISA) to make a barring decision should be serious in nature.

h) 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.

i) 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.

j) The current appeals arrangements should be retained.

k) The state barring body should be given a power to vary review periods in appropriate circumstances.

l) 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.

m) 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.

n) Finally, the Government should raise awareness of safeguarding issues and should widely promote the part everyone has to play in ensuring proper safeguarding amongst employers, volunteer organisations, families and the wider community.

The Terms of Reference along with the full VBS review report, can be downloaded using the following link:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/crime/vetting-barring-scheme/

Business as usual

It is business as usual at the CRB, AccessNI and the ISA. Their websites will be updated with any new information. These website addresses are as follows:

CRB/AccessNI
For information relating to the current Disclosure process visit: www.crb.homeoffice.gov.uk or www.accessni.gov.uk You can also contact the CRB Customer Services team on 0870 90 90 811

Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA)
For information relating to referrals and barring decisions : www.isa-gov.org.uk

Please note that the VBS contact centre ceased operation on 31 December 2010.

Stay informed

Over 66,000 employers, charities and voluntary groups have registered an interest in being updated on the Vetting & Barring Scheme, and this newsletter is being circulated as an update to those individuals and organisations. This approach will be used to communicate further information. Therefore if you know anyone else who would like to be kept updated, please forward this newsletter to them and ask that they complete their details on the ISA website (click here) to receive information directly in the future.