Changes to Vetting and Barring (safeguarding checks)

From the 10th September 2012 some changes will come into effect including a change of terminology. This is now referred to as Disclosure and Barring.

A brief re-cap on the Criminal Records Bureau and checks, and the Independent Safeguarding Authority.

The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) helps employers in England and Wales make safer recruitment decisions. A number of roles, especially those involving children or vulnerable adults, are entitled to a criminal record check.

The CRB searches police records and, in relevant cases, information held by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) and issues a CRB certificate to the applicant and employer to help them to make an informed recruitment decision.

The checking service currently offers two levels of CRB check, standard and enhanced. The order allows for applications to be submitted to a standard level. To qualify for the higher level of CRB check, the position must also meet one of the criteria set out in The Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) Regulations.

Types of Disclosure

  • A Standard Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check contains details of all spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings from the Police National Computer (PNC).
  • An Enhanced CRB check is the highest level of criminal record check. It will contain the same PNC information as the Standard check but also includes a check of police records held locally, and for positions working with children and vulnerable adults, information held by the Independent Safeguarding Authority.

More information on CRB from Criminal Records Bureau and Business Link

The Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) is a non-departmental public body (NDPB), sponsored by the Home Office. The ISA is responsible for maintaining the two barred lists, the ‘Children’s and Vulnerable Adults’ lists (sometimes employers or clients still refer to 'List 99' but only the lists above now exist).

The Independent Safeguarding Authority’s (ISA) role is to help prevent unsuitable people from working with children and vulnerable adults.

Referrals are made to the ISA when an employer or an organisation, for example, a regulatory body, has concerns that a person has caused harm or poses a future risk of harm to children or vulnerable adults. In these circumstances the employer or regulatory body must make a referral to the ISA.

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 provides for a list of offences that will result in automatic inclusion in one or more of the ISA barred lists. These are commonly referred to as 'Autobar' offences.

More information on ISA.

Key changes to vetting and barring

The key changes to the vetting and barring scheme include:

  • abolishing registration and monitoring requirements
  • redefining the scope of 'regulated activities' - those are the activities involving close work with vulnerable groups, including children, which a barred person must not do
  • abolishing 'controlled activities'

But a barring function will be maintained.

Major changes in September 2012

  • New definition of regulated activity
  • Repeal of controlled activity
  • Repeal of registration and continuous monitoring
  • Repeal of additional information
  • Minimum age (16) at which someone can apply for a CRB check
  • More rigorous 'relevancy' test for when the police release information held locally on an enhanced CRB check

The provisions also mean that the services of the Criminal Records Bureau and Independent Safeguarding Authority will be merged and a single, new non-departmental public body created. The new organisation will be called the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The planned operational date for the DBS is December 2012.

What happens until the changes come into force from 10 September 2012?

The safeguarding provisions introduced in October 2009 continue to apply, including the following:

  • a person who is barred by the Independent Safeguarding Authority from working in regulated activity will be breaking the law if they work or volunteer, or try to work or volunteer in regulated activity
  • an organisation that knowingly employs a barred individual to work in regulated activity will also be breaking the law
  • if your organisation provides regulated activity and you dismiss a member of staff or a volunteer because they have harmed, or posed a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult, or you would have done so if they had not left, you must refer this information to the Independent Safeguarding Authority

The Criminal Records Bureau continues to be responsible for the disclosure of criminal records and the Independent Safeguarding Authority for barring.