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New Vetting and Barring Scheme Registration Halted

30th June 2010
Those employers that provide services or work with children or vulnerable adults will be familiar with the various lists that the Government introduced over recent years that contain the names of people that are prevented from working in those sectors. The three lists were POVA, which listed those that were forbidden from working with vulnerable adults, POCA and List 99 which covered those prevented from working with children.
The last Government introduced the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) to provide for two lists to cover all the groups covered by the previous three lists. The new lists are administered by the Independent Safeguarding Authority. The two lists can be checked as part of an Enhanced Criminal Records Bureau check (often known as a "CRB check"). Certain parts of the VBS scheme came into operation in October 2009, but not all of it.  

The new Government has announced that it will halt registration with the Vetting and Barring Scheme in a response to criticism that the current scheme is disproportionate, overly burdensome, and infringes civil liberties. 

Voluntary registration with the VBS for new employees and those changing jobs, or volunteering, with children or vulnerable adults was expected to commence on the 26th July 2010. The plan was that compulsory registration would then follow from November 2010. The relevant Government departments are now reviewing the scheme in order to scale it back to "proportionate, common sense levels." It is not yet clear what exactly is meant by this! 

While the timing and scope of the requirements to register with the VBS now depend on the outcome of the review, various provisions that came into effect in October 2009 remain in force. Those provisions include the following:-

a) It remains a criminal offence for a barred individual to apply for work with children or vulnerable adults in a broader range of posts than had been the case before October 2009.

b) Employees will be committing a criminal offence if they knowingly employed a barred individual across a wider range of work than had applied before October 2009.

c) The Independent Safeguarding Authority remains responsible for maintaining the two barring lists that have replaced POVA, POCA and List 99.

d) New jobs and new volunteers are covered by the barring arrangements.

e) Employers, local authorities, professional regulators and inspection bodies have a duty to refer to the Independent Safeguarding Authority and information on an individual working with the vulnerable where they consider them to have caused harm or pose a risk.

Therefore it is clear that while some of the details of the proposed Scheme may be altered as a consequence of the review, the broad principles will remain. The important point for employers is the fact that there are criminal sanctions if they knowingly employee a barred individual, and the duty to report harm or risk remains. In the interim the onus will be on the employer to make sure that they have made the appropriate enquiries about the background and record of any potential employee or volunteer that will deal with children or vulnerable adults. On the question of knowingly employing a barred individual, the employer will clearly have this information from the enhanced CRB check, which they should be carrying out routinely and promptly, and requiring a clean CRB check as a pre-condition, and continuing requirement of their employment.

If you need any help or further advice on this matter please contact us.             
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