Amended: March 2011
The Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS), which is currently operated by the The Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), was set up under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and first came into effect in October 2009 when two Barred Lists were established - one for children and one for vulnerable adults - to replace the previous List 99, Protection of Children Act (PoCA) List, Protection of Vulnerable Adults (PoVA) List and Disqualification Order regimes.
The ISA bases its decisions about who to include on the Barred Lists by pulling together information held by various agencies, government departments and the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). The ISA thereby decides who is unsuitable to engage in 'Regulated Activities' with children or vulnerable adults.
At present, the ISA also decides who is unsuitable to work (or may work if sufficient safeguards are in place) in 'Regulated Activities', such as cleaners, caretakers and catering staff.
The government has recently completed a review of the VBS and proposes modifications to scale down its effect. The proposals include a merger of the ISA and the CRB. In addition, the definition of Regulated Activities is to be amended so that the range of posts falling within the definition is reduced. The requirements in relation to those working in Controlled Activity are to end.
The plan for the registration of all those working in 'Regulated Activities', was suspended pending the government review of the Vetting and Barring Scheme. Following the completion of the review, the registration scheme will not go ahead.
New legislation is currently going through Parliament to put these proposals into effect.
In the meantime, while the VBS is being re-modelled, the existing duty of the employer to refer information to the ISA will remain in force - see Referrals to the ISA .
The following also continue to apply:
- A person who is barred from working with children or vulnerable adults will be breaking the law if they work or volunteer, or try to work or volunteer with those groups.
- An organisation which knowingly employs someone who is barred to work with those groups will also be breaking the law.
Organisations engaging people in Regulated Activities must have robust recruitment procedures in place to ensure children and vulnerable adults are safeguarded.
Before recruiting staff (whether paid or unpaid), you should ensure that:
- Thorough checks are made of an applicant's identity, work history and references;
- Proof of qualifications are obtained
- Evidence of the person's right to work in the UK is obtained (employees only)
- An Enhanced CRB Disclosure is carried out - this includes checks of the ISA's Barred Lists
- A probationary period and close supervision of the person is undertaken;
- References are obtained
An employer is legally required to make a referral to the ISA if:
a) they withdraw permission for an individual to engage in a Regulated or Controlled Activity, or would have done so had that individual not resigned, retired, been made redundant or been transferred to a position which is not Regulated or Controlled;
b) they think that the individual has caused harm or posed a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult, or the individual has received a conviction or caution for a relevant offence.
For detailed guidance on the referral criteria and process, see ISA Referral Guidance.
The ISA will then review the person's case/circumstances and come to a decision about whether they should be barred from working with children or vulnerable adults.