15 March 2011

Vetting and Barring Scheme and the criminal record regime

On 11 February 2011, the Home Office released their proposals for reform of the Vetting and Barring Scheme (the ‘VBS’) and criminal record regime. The proposals follow the release earlier this month of Professor Eileen Munro’s interim report, ‘The Child’s Journey’, reviewing areas of the child protection scheme which require reform.

The review makes several recommendations for scaling back the systems in place to safe-guard society’s most vulnerable people. The initial registration of workers and volunteers with the VBS was halted on 15 June 2010 to allow the government to remodel the scheme back to ‘common-sense levels’.

The following proposals are to be adopted:

  1. The Criminal Records Bureau and Independent Safeguarding Authority will merge to form a streamlined body providing a proportionate barring and criminal records checking service.
  2. Checks will only be required for individuals working ‘closely and regularly’ with children and vulnerable adults.
  3. Criminal records checks will be made portable.
  4. Volunteers working with vulnerable groups will no longer have to register with the VBS and be continually monitored by the ISA.
  5. Employers will be prevented from knowingly requesting criminal records checks on individuals who are not entitled to them.

The government has brought in the necessary legislative changes in the Protection of Freedoms Bill, which had a public reading stage from 15 February to 7 March and has now passed to the House of Commons. Subject to parliamentary approval, the bill is expected to become law in 2012 and the new regime will be brought in soon after that.

Professor Munro’s review of child protection and the VBS will continue.

Category: Article