New Vetting and Barring Scheme comes into place

Sep 30 2009 - 4:35pm

The law is changing

From 12 October 2009, new measures will be introduced to help prevent unsuitable people from undertaking paid or volunteer work with children or vulnerable adults. This is called the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS).

To help implement the Scheme a new public body called the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) has been created. The ISA make decisions over who should be barred from working with vulnerable people. These decisions are legally binding so a barred person must not undertake certain roles under any circumstances. Failing to comply could result in both the employer and the employee or volunteer being prosecuted and even going to prison.

From July 2010 all new employees, those moving jobs and volunteers who want to work with children or vulnerable adults can register with the ISA. From November 2010, all new employees and volunteers must register before they start work. From then it will be illegal to employ people who are not ISA-registered.

So what does this mean for you or your organisation?

The Act introduces new duties and criminal offences for employers so it is vital to prepare for the impending changes and here are some of the most important actions you should take.  These include:

  • Reviewing (and, if necessary, updating) your organisation’s child and/or vulnerable adult protection policies in line with the new requirements, as well as any policies on recruiting ex-offenders.  This might involve developing procedures for identifying activities covered by the new scheme, and identifying when to make checks and referrals. 
  • Nominating an individual to take responsibility for ensuring your organisation complies with the new legal requirements. 
  • Working on plans to phase your existing workforce through the ISA-registration process over the 5-year period (after November 2010).  Workers who have not been CRB checked should apply for ISA registration first, followed by workers with old CRB disclosures.  Registration with the ISA costs £64 per individual and is free for volunteers.  If your organisation decides that it will pay for the registration, obviously you will need to budget for this.

Note that the new scheme does not replace the existing CRB scheme; you may still need to carry out CRB checks on eligible workers.  You should also ensure, as with the current CRB system, that other risk assessments and safeguards (such as checking references) are in place – being on the ISA register may not be enough of a safeguard on its own to recruit someone. 

More information:

Working with the CRB

ISA-registration will not replace the need for Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) Disclosure but represents an extra level of protection. This new Scheme helps to ensure that employers can be more confident than ever before that they are hiring a suitable person by making it a legal requirement for everyone who is working with children or the vulnerable to be ISA-registered. A CRB Disclosure will reveal if the person has convictions that would make an employer consider them unsuitable to do the specific job, such as convictions for theft, fraud or dishonesty. When used together, the ISA-registration and CRB checking process will provide employers with one of the most comprehensive assessment and review services available to date.

How employees and employers are affected

From November 2010, all new employees and volunteers who want to work with children and vulnerable adults in a wide variety of settings must be ISA-registered before they can be legally employed. Obtaining ISA-registration is the employee’s responsibility. It is not a difficult or time-consuming process and there is a one-off cost of £64 (£28 ISA/£36 CRB administration costs). ISA-registration for unpaid volunteers is free. There are two areas of ISA-registration, one covering working with children and one covering working with vulnerable adults. Once successfully ISA-registered, for either or both groups, an individual is ISA-registered for life in most cases and does not need to reapply. For employers wanting to hire that person they will need to first check their registration status. This can be done online for free. Only then, when a candidate’s ISA-registration has been confirmed, can they be taken on. At first, the Scheme will affect new employees and volunteers only. Over time, the registration process will be phased in to include current employees and volunteers.

Does this affect me or my organisation?

To find out who is affected by these changes and what, if anything, needs to be done, please visit www.isa-gov.org.uk

As an organisation or individual who undertakes work in a paid or unpaid capacity with children or vulnerable adults, these changes to the law will affect you. If your organisation has an HR or a finance department, then those staff should be made aware of the Scheme and the legal requirements around ISA-registration. Smaller organisations, without these departments, must familiarise themselves with the new rules to ensure that they too comply with the changes. We20appreciate that you may not have done anything like this before but the ISA are here to help you every step of the way.

For more information about the Vetting and Barring Scheme, the Independent Safeguarding Authority, the registration process, who is affected and how, please visit www.isa-gov.org.uk or call 0300 123 1111.

Lower cost for Standard CRB checks

The Criminal Records Bureau is to reduce the fee for a Standard Disclosure from £31 to £26 as of 1st October. This is due to an expected increase in20the volume of disclosure applications being processed as the above-mentioned Vetting and Barring Scheme comes into place. However Enhanced checks, which will become mandatory for organisations working with children or vulnerable adults from 12th October, will remain at £36.

Thanks to the DSC for help with this article

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