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Vetting and Barring Scheme Update

Today saw the publication of the Government's review of the Vetting & Barring Scheme.  Regular readers will know that we try not to pass too much comment on our news stories, but this major change is an exception, so please indulge us in this news and opinion piece!

Before we give you the highlights we want you to take a step back and remember the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in Soham.  A lengthy inquiry by Sir Michael Bichard concluded that the system of CRB checks and vetting that existed was inadequate.  His inquiry paved the way for the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act and the introduction of the ISA.  A major change was the introduction of regulated and controlled activity and a wider scope of there being no known reason why someone should not work with children or vulnerable adults.  The controlled activity covered roles that would bring people like Ian Huntley into contact with children and vulnerable adults - the caretakers, the school office assistants.

Controlled Activity and no known reason are the key aspects of the current system that the Government is removing from the legislation - the foundation stones of the scheme that were aimed at making life as difficult as possible for the next Ian Huntley.  And the Government report actually states that they are aware that this may give rise to an increase in safeguarding risks!!!!  Yes, you read right.  And they have the audacity to talk about common sense principles - we aren't sure that there is any common sense left!  The onus will be on employers and organisations to decide whether they need to check people like cleaners, volunteer literacy helpers in schools and other individuals who would have been covered under the current legilsation but who won't be under the new scheme.  So who is going to be liable when Ian Huntley II strkes?  The Head Mistress, the Local Authority?  Well, as long as it's not the Government that's okay.

And let's get the record straight - even though our Deputy Prime Minister clearly has little understanding about the VBS, based on his performance on TV, the Scheme did NOT require mum's giving their friends kids a lift to football practice to register.  It did NOT require the dad helping walk a group of primary school kids to swimming once a month to register.  We fail to see why anyone who wishes to work or volunteer in an environment which gives them access to children or vulnerable adults, would object to a CRB check or ISA vetting check.  If this legislation just stopped one Ian Huntley wouldn't it be worth it?  If you answered no to that, let us re-phrase the question.  If this legislation stopped just one Ian Huntley abducting and murdering YOUR child, wouldn't it be worth it?

So other key changes are:

  • new definition of regulated activity - this seems to be taking us back to the old CRB system eg teacher, trainer, care workers who traditionally were required to provide CRB checks
  • increased portability - at last, some common sense and a welcome development which in itself would have simplified and streamlined the system
  • merging of the CRB and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA)
  • an end to a requirement for those working or volunteering with vulnerable groups to register with the VBS.

And because the Government stopped the scheme in 2010 and has now lost the revenue stream they will be increasing the cost of Enhanced CRB check to cover the cost of the VBS until the changes go through.  Game, set and match!

Thanks for indulging us .... we feel better for getting that off our chest!  You can download the full report here.  And if your views differ and you wish to argue the point with us, then please feel free to contact us via twitter @StephW2W.  


11 February 2011  

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