Vetting and Barring Scheme registration halted

At our employment law update at the Basildon Council Regulation and Economic Update in October 2009 we considered the potential impact of the Vetting and Barring Scheme (“VBS”), which had just come into force. Following the implementation of parts of the VBS, defects have become apparent and the Government has announced that it is re-thinking the VBS.

The VBS was introduced in reaction to a moral panic after the Soham murders and has been criticised for being disproportionate and overly burdensome.

The underlying approach of the VBS is to protect children and vulnerable adults by stopping those who pose a known risk from working with them. To this end, the Independent Safeguarding Authority (“ISA”) was set up with a view to requiring individuals to be registered with the VBS. It is a criminal offence for non-registered individuals to apply to work with children or vulnerable adults in a wider range of posts than previously; furthermore, it is a criminal offence for employers to employ such individuals.

Many employers may be subject to the VBS and not realise, with posts such as cleaners, caretakers, bus drivers, shop workers, catering staff, car park attendants and receptionists all potentially requiring registration.

The far-reaching nature of the VBS has led to a grave concern that many volunteers will simply withdraw their help rather than register and consequently worthwhile activities such as after-school clubs might simply cease to function.

While those parts of the VBS that have already been implemented will remain in force, registration with the VBS has currently been halted to allow the Government to remodel the scheme.

In the meantime, employers should be aware of existing arrangements under the VBS including criminal offences and also the obligation to refer information to the ISA if an individual has been, for example, sacked because they have harmed or there is a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult.

This article was written by Lara Murray a Solicitor in our Employment Department.