ISA & VBS Background
Although the requirement for people undertaking "Regulated activity" to register with the ISA was scrapped in February 2011, when the coalition Government announced this decision , the ISA was already operational for managing the barred lists and receiving incident reports from employers. Also, the Enhanced Disclosure eligibility criteria has already been changed to align them with the ISA registration criteria. The following was originally written in the expectation that ISA registration would be introduced, but even with this no longer being then case, some elements have been implemented.
After the tragic events in Soham, the Government appointed Sir Michael Bichard to head an inquiry into the failings of the vetting procedures that allowed Ian Huntley to take a role in a school, despite having been brought to the attention of the authorities on a number of previous occasions concerning incidents with minors.
The resulting document, the Bichard Inquiry Report, made 31 wide-reaching recommendations for improvements to cross Government data sharing procedures. The Government of the day accepted the report's recommendations and introduced legislation to enable them to be implemented. This became the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 which received the Royal Assent becoming law on November 8th 2008.
The legislation covered England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but under devolution Scotland passed the Protection of Vulnerable Groups [Scotland] Act 2007 which resulted in the PVG Scheme which starts on 20th February 2011.
The Westminster legislation created the Independent Safeguarding Authority (then referred to as the Independent Barring Board) who were charged to :-
Consolidate all Government-held data into two "barred lists" of people who must not be placed in roles where they would have access to children and/or vulnerable adults.
Operate a process whereby people would be added to or removed from such list(s) based on assessment of data provided from all official sources
Operate a scheme under which non-barred individuals wishing to work with children and/or vulnerable adults must register and be monitored (scrapped)
Provide employers and other interested parties with a means of checking (with their permission) that an individual is registered with the above scheme (not required)
Notify employers or other interested parties if that registration status changes (not required)
- Provide a mechanism for employers to report incidents relating to inappropriate actions by staff working children and/or vulnerable adults.
In line with the legislation, the ISA took over responsibility for the "barred lists" from January 2009.
In October 2009 the rules surrounding Disclosures changed to align them with the planned ISA registration scheme. This included :-
A new definition of "Regulated Activity" which widened the range of roles giving access to children or vulnerable adults that are eligible for Enhanced Disclosures.
Standard Disclosures are no longer able to access the barred lists, so are unsuitable for roles working with children or vulnerable adults.
Employers are required (by law) to report to the ISA any incidents that result in an employee being removed from a role working with children and/or vulnerable adults out of concern for the safety of the latter, or would have been removed had they not left voluntarily.
The next step in implementing the legislation would have been to roll out the ISA registration scheme, under which anybody undertaking Regulated Activity would be required, by law, to register with the ISA.
Registration was due begin on 23rd July 2010 for newly appointed personnel and from 1st November 2010 it would have been illegal to place a non-registered person in a role undertaking regualted activity.
Existing staff as at 1st November would have needed to be ISA registered by 2015.
However, following the 2010 election the coalition Government halted the rollout of the ISA registration scheme and ordered a review of the whole policy, including current CRB Disclosures.
Review Results - February 11th 2011
The review concluded that the requirement for 9.3 million people to register with the ISA was a disproportionate response to the threat posed to children or vulnerable adults by the 20,000 or so people on the barred lists.
Consequently the ISA registration scheme will not be rolled out and new legislation will be introduced under the Protection of Freedoms bill, currently scheduled to be passed in 2012. Once the legislation is in place, changes to the CRB Disclosure service could be made by 2013.
In the meanwhile the current Vetting & Barring Scheme and CRB Disclosure service will continue.
The ISA will continue to run the VBS, i.e. they will still be responsible for maintaining the Barred Lists, and operating the process for deciding whether an individual should be included on the list(s).
However, future legislation will limit the infomation that they can consider when making such decisions to "that of the most serious nature". As a result people who are barred under the current criteria will be able to appeal to be re-assessed under the new rules (in the hope that the bar may be lifted).
To minimise cost, the ISA will be merged with the CRB.
The currently proposed changes to the CRB Disclosure service to be enabled by Parliament passing the Protection of Freedoms bill are shown here.