Changes to Vetting and Barring Scheme

Just when we all thought we knew where we were with the VBS – it has been amended again (see below). 

My advice would be to analyse all your staff and volunteer roles for eligibilty then contact the VBS info line for confirmation info@vbs-info.org.uk

A further series of Vetting and Barring Scheme Stakeholder Briefing Roadshows will be held in England and Wales in February and March 2010. Details shortly to be added to VBS website and booking starts mid Jan. 

VBS Scheme changes

Sir Roger Singleton’s check leads to Scheme changes

  • Government accepts all recommendations on Vetting & Barring
  • Two million fewer adults required to register
  • Foreign exchanges & international events will not be covered

Following a review of aspects of the new Vetting & Barring Scheme (VBS) the Government has accepted all of Sir Roger Singleton’s recommendations to make sure that the Scheme protects vulnerable groups without getting involved in private arrangements between parents and friends.

Responding to Sir Roger’s report Drawing the Line, published on 14 December, the Government pledged to make the necessary adjustments to the rules of the Scheme to ensure it strikes the right balance between protecting children and vulnerable adults without being unnecessarily burdensome.

It is estimated that once these adjustments have been put in place, the number of people who will be required to register with the Scheme will fall from 11 million to nine and a half million.

Sir Roger Singleton, the Chief Adviser on the Safety of Children and Chair of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), was asked by DCSF Secretary of State Ed Balls in September to check that the Government had drawn the line in the right place in relation to those who have to register with the Scheme because of the frequent or intensive nature of their contact with vulnerable groups.

Sir Roger recommended that private arrangements between parents and friends should continue to remain outside the Scheme, but where an organisation makes the decisions on which adults should work with their children then the requirement to register will apply.

The effect of Sir Roger’s recommendations will be that:

  • Where organisations such as schools, clubs or groups make the decisions as to which adults should work with their children or vulnerable adults then the requirement to register with the VBS should apply, subject to the frequent and intensive contact provisions.
  • The frequent contact test should normally be met if the work takes place once a week or more (previously the test was if activity happened once a month or more). The intensive contact test should be met if the work takes place on 4 days in one month or more or overnight (previously the test was 3 times in every 30 days or overnight).
  • Individuals who go into different schools or similar settings to work with different groups should not be required to register unless their contact with the same group is frequent or intensive.
  • The minimum age of registration for young people who engage in regulated activity as part of their continuing education should be reviewed. The Government will make immediate changes to the rules so that the scheme will not require 16, 17 and 18-year-olds in education to register.
  • Overseas visitors bringing their own groups of children to the UK, e.g. to international camps or the Olympics, should have a three months exemption from the requirement to register for the work they do with children they have brought to the UK. This provides that they only work with their own group. Once they start work with other groups, then registration will be required.
  • Exchange visits lasting less than 28 days, where overseas parents accept the responsibility for the selection of the volunteer host family, should be regarded as private arrangements and the Scheme will not require registration.

Further recommendations made by Sir Roger Singleton mean that the Government will also take action to:

  • Consider whether private health practitioners, such as self-employed chiropractors and homoeopathists should be required to register. Current legislation allows them to register but does not require them to.
  • Review the continuing need for ‘controlled activity’. ‘Controlled activity’ is defined as a small number of activities where there might be opportunity for contact with children or vulnerable adults, such as working as a hospital or school receptionist, but falls short of the opportunities open to other roles such as nurses or teachers.
  • Review the law and the Government’s advice on when, in the future, workers who have already secured ISA registration, will have to get CRB checks.

Home Office Minister Meg Hillier said:

“I’d like to thank Sir Roger for his excellent work. The recommendations he made, which have been fully accepted by the Government, ensure that the Vetting and Barring Scheme strikes the right balance between keeping the most vulnerable in our society safe from harm and making sure we don’t interfere in personal and family arrangements.

“The benefits of the scheme are clear – better sharing of information, portable registration status for employees and volunteers, and clear decisions on who is unsuitable to work with vulnerable groups.

“Parents and carers expect us to protect children and other vulnerable groups from harm. I am confident that the scheme does this in a proportionate and common-sense way.”

For full details of Sir Roger’s report and the Government response please visit www.isa.homeoffice.gov.uk

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