The scheme for ensuring people have appropriate credentials for working with vulnerable people have been updated. Shirley Wright outlines the changes

The Independent Safeguarding Authority acts under powers derived from the Protection of Vulnerable Adults Act and the Protection of Children Act.

Since 12 October all vetting and barring decisions that the authority takes now come under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Group Act 2006, which created the vetting and barring scheme.

What do you need to know?

On 12 October, the power of the authority to bar individuals who pose a known risk from working or volunteering with children and vulnerable adults was further strengthened, as bodies such as NHS trusts and HM Prison Service came under the scheme and new criminal offences came into force.

The scheme will replace the current List 99, PoCA, PoVA, POCVA (Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults), Unsuitable Persons and Disqualification Orders regimes.

There will be lists of people who are barred from “regulated activities”, which will cover a much wider range of jobs and activities than before, particularly in areas where there are vulnerable adults, such as the NHS and the Prison Service.

There will be a new duty to share information. Employers, social services and professional regulators will have to notify the authority of relevant information so any individuals who are known to pose a threat to a vulnerable group can be identified and barred from working with these groups.

New criminal offences will come into force. It will be a crime for a barred person to seek or do work with the vulnerable groups, and for employers to knowingly take them on.

Timetable

From 26 July 2010, all new entrants in roles working with vulnerable groups and those who change jobs to work within these sectors will be able to register with the authority and be checked by them. At that time, it is not a legal requirement; it is an option to register.

However, by November 2010 there will be a legal requirement for employees to register with the scheme and for employers to check their status.

What is a regulated or controlled activity?

A regulated activity is defined as an activity that involves contact with children or vulnerable adults, in paid or voluntary work.

It will be a criminal offence for an employer to allow a barred person, or a person who is not yet registered with the authority, to work in any regulated activity.

Further, it will be a criminal offence when an employer takes on a person in a regulated activity if they fail to check the person’s status.

An activity could instead be deemed a controlled activity, which is defined as frequent or intensive support working in general health settings, the NHS and further education. It can also apply to working for specified organisations that have frequent access to sensitive records about children and vulnerable adults and to support work in adult social care.

An activity is controlled when frequent (once a month or more) or intensive (three or more days in a 30 day period).

It will be a criminal offence for an employer to take on an individual in a controlled activity if they fail to check that individual’s status.

However, an employer can permit a barred individual to work in a controlled activity, but only if sufficient safeguards are put in place.

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Vetting and barring scheme