Please find a brief overview of the main documents that legislate the safeguarding industry:

  • Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (1974) Exceptions Order (1975) – This document sets out the legislation that defines the rehabilitation periods for different convictions. After a defined period the individual will no longer need to declare the conviction information as it becomes ‘spent’. For example, when taking out an insurance policy an individual has the right to not disclose any ‘spent’ convictions. The Exceptions Order details certain positions, professions and employments where the employer can ask for all spent and unspent criminal information. In 2013 the Exceptions Order (1975) was amended to ‘filter’ conviction information to determine if it will appear on a Disclosure Certificate or not (Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (Amendment) (England and Wales) Order 2013).


  • Part V of the Police Act 1997 – This part of the Police Act allows organisations in England and Wales to obtain criminal record information on a prospective employee (or volunteer) from a centralised Government source. This led to the formation of the Criminal Records Bureau (now called the Disclosure and Barring Service). The Act also defines the types of check that can be obtained, and the information they may hold (Basic, Standard or Enhanced). This Act was amended in Police Act 1997 (Criminal Record Certificates: Relevant Matters) (Amendment) (England and Wales) Order 2013.


  • Protections of Children Act 1999 – This Act amends the Police Act to make it a criminal offence to employ someone in a child caring position without obtaining an Enhanced Level Disclosure, checking the relevant Vetting and Barring Lists. It is also provides the legislation to make it a criminal offence for a person seeking work with children, knowing that they are barred from doing so.


  • Care Standards Act 2000 – This Act amends the Police Act to make it a criminal offence to employ someone in a ‘care position’ without obtaining an Enhanced Level Disclosure, checking the relevant Vetting and Barring Lists. The document also defines a ‘Vulnerable Adult’ and the different roles which are included under Care Worker/Supply Worker. Included are the provisions for checking certain positions  It also outlines the responsibility of certain authorities/organisation to refer any person that has harmed a child, or is at risk of doing so.


  • Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act (2006) – This Act outlined the formation of the ISA Registration Scheme that was scrapped in June 2010. As it’s replacement the Independent Safeguarding Authority was formed to make barring decisions and maintain the vetting and barring lists for working with children and vulnerable adults.


  • Protection of Freedoms Act (2012) – This document was introduced in May 2012, and made some fundamental changes to the legislation surrounding Disclosures. These changes are due to be phased in over 2 years, starting in May 2012. Primarily this deals with the formation of the Disclosure and Barring Service as a replacement for the Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority.


NOTE: There are several other Acts that have impacts upon the safeguarding industry, due to their far reaching scope. Some industry specific documents are also in existence.

Related Questions:

Should I choose a Basic, Standard or Enhanced Disclosure for my employee?

Sector specific case studies