From October 2009, new measures were introduced to help prevent unsuitable people from working with children and vulnerable adults.
The Safeguarding of Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (SVGA) was passed as a result of the Bichard Inquiry arising from the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in 2002, by Ian Huntley, their school caretaker (the Soham Murders).
Recommendation 19 of the Inquiry Report highlighted the need for a single agency to vet all individuals who want to work or volunteer to work with children or vulnerable adults. The SVGA was created in response and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) was set up to fulfil the specific requirements of Recommendation 19. What it aimed to do was to create a scheme for identifying those who are considered as ‘inappropriate’ to work with children or vulnerable adults by requiring those who wish to work or volunteer with either groups to undergo a process of registration. The process of registration with ISA is a key concept in what is known as the Vetting and Barring Scheme.
These additional measures were considered necessary to strengthen the regulation of those working with children and vulnerable adults. However, they have been widely criticised as overly invasive and for discouraging persons who wish to work with the two groups. Critics pointed out that existing measures in the UK were already sufficient.
On 15th June 2010 the Coalition Government announced that it would halt registration with the Vetting and Barring Scheme in response to criticism that it was disproportionate, overly burdensome, and that it infringed on civil liberties.
With full details of how the Scheme will change yet to be finalised, Home Secretary, Theresa May has indicated that there is a need to scale it back to ‘common sense and proportionate’ levels. The final recommendations of the Scheme will be announced in early 2011.
In the meantime, various other aspects of the Scheme will remain in force, including the following:
The duty to refer could be triggered in the following types of situation:
Details of the extent to which the Scheme will be scaled back are to be announced shortly by the Home Office. At present, however, employers are not required to check an employee’s ISA status. For many this is a welcome relief and will save employers an additional administrative burden when recruiting.
For further information contact Amanda Okill Associate and Employment Law Specialist on 01227 763939.
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