Home secretary, Theresa May, has promised to scale back “draconian” plans for vetting people working with children and vulnerable adults to bring in more “common sense”.

She said present plans unveiled by the last Labour government risked alienating volunteers doing valuable work, and they would now be put on hold while a new scheme was worked out.

The announcement comes as a landmark date approaches when all newcomers to regulated posts can register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

From 26 July all new entrants to regulated activity or those changing jobs would have been able to sign up, although it was not due to become mandatory until 1 November.

The ISA scheme was developed in response to the murder of two schoolgirls by caretaker Ian Huntley and launched last October.

It was designed to prevent unsuitable people working with children and vulnerable adults, and employers would face prosecution for breaches.

An independent review of the scheme took place last year following complaints that volunteers were being discouraged.

As a result ministers agreed to only vet adults if they see the same group of children or vulnerable people once a week or more, rather than once a month.

But Ms May told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “It was a draconian measure when it was introduced, that’s why we have halted the process.

“By scaling it back we will be able to introduce a greater element of common sense.”

Last week the Royal College of Nursing said it was seeking a judicial review of the scheme, claiming it could breach the human rights of nurses and undermine their work