Press release

Vetting and Barring Scheme registration halted

Registration with the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) will be halted to allow the government to remodel the scheme back to proportionate, common sense levels, it was announced today.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Voluntary registration with the VBS for new employees and job-movers working or volunteering with children and vulnerable adults was due to start on 26 July.

This registration has now been stopped.

The government recognises that many businesses, community groups and individuals see the current scheme as disproportionate and overly burdensome, and that it unduly infringes on civil liberties.

Statement from the Home Secretary

Theresa May said,’The safety of children and vulnerable adults is of paramount importance to the new government.

‘However it is also vital that we take a measured approach in these matters. We’ve listened to the criticisms and will respond with a scheme that has been fundamentally remodelled.

‘Vulnerable groups must be properly protected in a way that is proportionate and sensible. This redrawing of the vetting and barring scheme will ensure this happens.’

Statement from the Children’s Minister

Tim Loughton said,’Protecting vulnerable children is a top priority. Any vetting system should not be a substitute for proper vigilance by individuals and society. At the moment we think the pendulum has swung too far.

‘We shouldn’t be driving a wedge between children and well-meaning adults including people coming forward to volunteer with young people. Such individuals should be welcomed, encouraged, and helped as much as possible, unless it can be shown that children would not be safe in their care.’

Statement from Care Services Minister

Paul Burstow said,’Protecting the most vulnerable people in society is a basic duty of any government. While we must be confident that the systems we have in place are up to the job, we must also be sure that they are proportionate.

‘We will look in detail at what should be done to ensure that the scheme meets both these tests.’

The VBS is designed to protect children and vulnerable adults by preventing those who pose a known risk from gaining access to them through their work.

Existing arrangements under the Scheme which will continue include the following:

  • since January 2009, the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) has been making independent barring decisions. It will continue to maintain two constantly updated lists, one for those barred from working with children, the other for those barred from working with vulnerable adults
  • existing requirements concerning Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Access Northern Ireland checks will remain in place, and those entitled to such checks can continue to apply for them
  • employers are still legally obliged to refer information to the ISA if they have moved or removed an individual because they have harmed or there is a risk of harm to a member of a vulnerable group.

The scope of the remodelling process - to be co-ordinated by the Home Office in partnership with Department of Health and Department for Education - is currently being finalised and will be announced shortly.

More than 66,000 employers, charities and voluntary groups are now being informed directly of the change. Up-to-date information is also available to businesses, other organisations and individuals on the DirectGov Website or on the Businesslink Website VBS sections

Notes to editors

The Vetting and Barring Scheme aims to protect children and vulnerable adults by stopping those who pose a known risk from working with them.

It was designed as a response to the Bichard Inquiry into the Soham murders by Ian Huntley which called for better information sharing by police and vetting organisations.

The Scheme will be delivered by the ISA, the CRB and Access Northern Ireland (AccessNI), and overseen by the Home Office to implement safeguarding policies on which Department for Education and Department Of Health lead for children and vulnerable adults respectively. 

While the timing and scope of requirements on individuals to register with the Scheme will depend on the outcome of the review, the following requirements, which came into effect in October last year, remain in place:

  • it is now a criminal offence for barred individuals to apply to work with children or vulnerable adults in a wider range of posts than previously. Employers also face criminal sanctions for knowingly employing a barred individual across a wider range of work
  • the three previous barring lists (POVA, POCA and List 99) are replaced by the creation of two new barred lists administered by the ISA rather than several government departments. Since October 2009, checks of these two lists can be made as part of an Enhanced CRB check
  • additional jobs and voluntary positions are covered by the barring arrangements, including moderators of children’s internet chat rooms, and a large number of NHS staff
  • employers, local authorities, professional regulators and inspection bodies have a duty to refer to the ISA any information on an individual working with the vulnerable where they consider them to have caused harm or pose a risk.

The latest information on the VBS can be found on the DirectGov Website or on the Businesslink Website VBS sections.

For all media enquiries call the Home Office Press Office on 020 7035 3535.

Published 15 June 2010