From education to employment

Regime change for CRB and Vetting and Barring scheme

On 11 February the government published two reports setting out recommendations for major changes to the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) and the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).

Sweeping reforms are expected to be implemented in 2012. The government aims to:

  • reduce bureaucracy; whilst

  • ensuring adequate protection for vulnerable groups.

In due course, the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) which administers the Adults’ Barred List and the Children’s Barred List will be merged with the CRB. In the meantime, the requirements for schools and colleges to implement “safer recruitment” measures, including enhanced CRB checks for all new entrants to the education workforce remain.

Further reports, legislation and guidance are expected but some of the proposed changes are contained in the Protection of Freedoms Bill including:

  • abolition of the requirement for people working with children or vulnerable adults to register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) and become subject to monitoring;

  • restriction of the definition of “regulated activity” so that fewer people will be barred from working with children or vulnerable adults. Surprisingly it is suggested in the report on the VBS that someone who is barred from teaching in a school or college might not be barred from becoming a “Sunday School helper” or “volunteer touchline judge at a children’s football match”. The reasoning is that such roles would be “supervised” thus reducing risk to children. Although an employer, in these circumstances would still be able to carry out a CRB check, there would be no obligation to do so;

  • in fact any voluntary work in a school (or college catering wholly or mainly for students under 18) will no longer be regulated activity provided that it is supervised. Schools and colleges should therefore ensure that their supervision arrangements are robust and that they operate rigorous risk assessments in relation to volunteers;

  • only those who are currently working with children (or “might do so in the future”) will be automatically barred following conviction for a serious offence. Thus a supermarket worker convicted of a serious offence against a child would be free to apply for either a role involving regulated activity or a supervised role as above. This highlights the importance of CRB checks and other forms of vetting such as references;

  • allowing employers to apply for an updating service (for a fee) paving the way for CRB certificates to become “portable”;

  • in future, CRB certificates will be sent only to the individuals concerned who will then be able to challenge any inaccurate information before deciding whether to pass it on to the employer. If the certificate is not passed on then the employer can decide not to confirm the employment offer but the applicant’s privacy will have been preserved.

For more information and advice on safeguarding, safer recruitment and FE inspections, contact Yvonne Spencer, Partner on 0117 314 5202, [email protected]

Related Articles