Department for Education
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Vetting and Barring Scheme: Two million fewer adults required to register

Children’s Secretary Ed Balls has accepted all of Sir Roger Singleton’s recommendations to make sure that the Government’s Vetting and Barring scheme draws the line in the right place and protects children without getting involved in private arrangements between parents and friends.

And he pledged to make the necessary adjustments to the rules of the scheme to ensure it strikes the right balance between protecting children and vulnerable adults without being unnecessarily burdensome. It is estimated that once these adjustments have been put in place, the number of people who will be required to register will fall from 11 million to nine million.

Sir Roger Singleton, the Chief Adviser on the Safety of Children and Chair of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), was asked by Ed Balls in September to check that the line was drawn in the right place in relation to those who have to register with the scheme because of the frequent or intensive nature of their contact with children.

Drawing the Line

In his report, Drawing the Line, published today, he recommends that private arrangements between parents and friends should continue to remain outside the scheme.  But where an organisation makes the decisions on which adults should work with their children then the requirement to register will apply.

Sir Roger’s recommendations include:  

  • Where organisations such as schools, clubs or groups make the decisions as to which adults should work with their children then the requirement to register with the VBS should apply, subject to the frequent and intensive contact provisions.
  • The frequent contact test should be met if the work with children takes place once a week or more (at present the test is if activity happens as often as once a month). The intensive contact test should be met if the work takes place on 4 days in one month or more or overnight (this change is designed to make the scheme easier to understand and put into practice, since at present the test is 3 times in every 30 days or overnight).
  • Individuals who go into different schools or similar settings to work with different groups of children should not be required to register unless their contact with the same children is frequent or intensive.
  • The minimum age of registration for young people who engage in regulated activity as part of their continuing education should be reviewed. The Government will make immediate changes to the rules so that 16, 17 and 18-year-olds in education will not be required to register.
  • Overseas visitors bringing their own groups of children to the UK e.g. to international camps or the Olympics, should have a three months exemption from the requirement to register for the work they do with children they have brought to the UK.
  • Exchange visits lasting less than 28 days, where overseas parents accept the responsibility for the selection of the host family, should be regarded as private arrangements and will not require registration.

Regarding Sir Roger's report, Ed Balls said:

I am very grateful to Sir Roger Singleton for undertaking this check. Keeping children and young people safe is a top priority for Government and a robust vetting and barring system that prevents people who are known to be a threat working with them is crucial to that. But we also need to make sure that we draw the line in the right place and that we do not interfere in private arrangements that are rightly made between friends and family.

Where parents have no control over which individual is able to work regularly with their children, it is right that we have a system that checks people’s suitability for a role, whether it is paid or unpaid.

We also know that this is what parents want, thanks to a recent National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations survey. The survey found that three out of four parents agree that individuals should be required to register when parents themselves are not making the decision personally who is caring for their children.

The changes we are making today mean children will be safe but the system will not be overly burdensome. I am sure that when we have implemented today’s thoughtful and considered recommendations we will have a scheme that offers protection without being unnecessarily burdensome.

Further recommendations made by Sir Roger Singleton mean that the Government will also take action to:

  • Consider whether private health practitioners, such as chiropractors and homoeopathists should be required to register. Current legislation allows them to register but does not require them to
  • Review the continuing need for ‘controlled activity. ‘Controlled activity’ is defined as a small number of activities where there might be opportunity for contact with children or vulnerable adults, such as working as a hospital or school receptionist, but falls short of the opportunities open to other roles such as nurses or teachers. This review will be launched in the New Year;
  • Review the law and the Government’s advice on when, in the future, workers who have already secured ISA registration, will have to get CRB checks.
  • The Government will also be renewing its work on communicating the details of the scheme. 

Home Office Minister Meg Hillier said:

I’d like to thank Sir Roger for his excellent work. The recommendations he made, which have been fully accepted by the Government, ensure that the Vetting and Barring Scheme strikes the right balance between keeping the most vulnerable in our society safe from harm and making sure we don’t interfere in personal and family arrangements.
The benefits of the scheme are clear - better sharing of information, portable registration status for employees and volunteers, and clear decisions on who is unsuitable to work with vulnerable groups.
Parents and carers expect us to protect children and other vulnerable groups from harm. I am confident that the scheme does this in a proportionate and common-sense way.

Care Services Minister Phil Hope said:

Those who support and care for the most vulnerable people in society play an invaluable role in helping such adults lead full and independent lives. It is only right that there are suitable and appropriate checks in place to ensure that vulnerable adults are offered protection from abuse.

The Vetting and Barring Scheme, which took over from the Protection of Vulnerable Adults scheme, will help to make the workforce in health and social care safer for vulnerable adults and older people. I am grateful to Sir Roger for his work to ensure the scheme works as well.

Further information

Drawing the line – A report on the Government’s Vetting and Barring Scheme and the Government’s response can be found on the DCSF's publications site.

The Written Ministerial Statement

Letter from Ed Balls to Sir Roger.

The survey by the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations can be found on the Confederation's website.

The letter from Ed Balls to Barry Sheerman announcing Sir Roger Singleton’s check of the scheme.

In January this year, the ISA took over responsibility for the decisions on new cases referred under the old barring schemes (List 99, POCA and POVA) from Government Ministers.

In October this year, the ISA’s new barred lists were brought into force and the old barred lists (List 99, POCA and POVA) were repealed. The ISA has been working through the stock of individuals on the old barred lists, including them or considering to include them on its new barred lists.  Where that process has not been completed for any individual due to the complexity of the case or where an appeal process is still on-going, the Government has maintained the old bar in place, pending the ISA’s conclusion of its work..

Yesterday’s announcement will not affect the rollout of the scheme. In particular:

  • July 2010 - new entrants and employees looking to work or volunteer with vulnerable groups can start to apply to become ISA registered
  • November 2010 – new entrants must become ISA registered before starting work with vulnerable groups
  • April 2011 – existing workers start to become ISA-registered.

The Vetting and Barring Scheme covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A separate but aligned scheme will be implemented in Scotland in 2010.

Further information can be found at , including guidance from the ISA for employers on how to fulfil their new duty to refer an employee who causes harm or poses a risk.