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- Date requested: 11 February 2011
- Publish date: 20 April 2011
- Updated: 26 April 2012
Following the comments made by Tim Loughton on the Freedom Bill being put before Parliament, what is the evidence that suggests that the proposed reduced level of certification and checks of individuals working with children will not put children at more risk?
The evidence that current vetting proposals would maintain adequate safeguards for children comprises the views of a wide range of organisations, which officials and ministers sought and considered in undertaking the review.
Quotes from several of these organisations, and a list of those consulted on criminal records checks, are in the published reports on the reviews (see links below). The organisations consulted are broadly supportive of the proposals.
The government announced in 2010 that it would remodel the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) back to common-sense levels. The review considered the fundamental principles and objectives behind the vetting and barring regime. On 11 February 2011 the Government published the outcome of this review, and legislation to make key changes, including:
- merging the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) to form a streamlined new body providing a proportionate barring and criminal records checking service
- a large reduction of the number of positions requiring checks to just those working most closely and regularly with children and vulnerable adults
- portability of checks between jobs to cut down on needless bureaucracy
- an end to a requirement for those working with vulnerable groups to register with the VBS and then be continuously monitored by the ISA
- stopping employers who knowingly request criminal records checks on individuals who are not entitled to them
The government believes that the changes above will result in a more proportionate, less bureaucratic system where safeguards will remain sufficient, in that vetting checks are not the only safeguarding measure that organisations should apply at the point of selecting an individual to work closely with children.
Government guidance always reminds organisations to take up references and check employment history, and think carefully about the final decision that only they can take - is this person suitable for this post?
In addition, after recruitment, safe practice should also be followed, with procedures for acting if any concerns arise.
The previous proposals, by placing too much emphasis on state vetting, would tend to encourage risk aversion rather than risk management
Parliament will scrutinise the main proposals for change, now in the Protection of Freedoms Bill, and can further test the proposed reforms.
The government believes that it is vital to balance the need to protect the vulnerable against the individual’s freedom and not create a system that imposes unnecessary burdens on individuals and organisations. Assessing risk is not only the responsibility of the state or the hiring organisation but also a responsibility for society as a whole. Everyone should be vigilant and alert the authorities if they have concerns.
Further information regarding the reports of the review of the VBS, and of a review of the criminal records regime led by Mrs Sunita Mason, the government’s independent adviser, can be found from the Disclosure and Barring Service.
The government believes the new framework underpinning barring decisions to be robust. It fully supports the protection of children and vulnerable adults.
3. Related links
Home Office website: Vetting and barring scheme How the vetting and barring scheme helps to protect young children and vunerable adults.
Criminal Records Bureau The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) aims to help organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors by identifying candidates who may be unsuitable to work with children or vulnerable members of society.