Disclosure and barring

As part of the coalition agreement, the government committed to reviewing and reforming the vetting and barring scheme and criminal records regime, scaling them back to common sense levels.

This will ensure there is a continued service to help safeguard vulnerable groups including children from those people who work or volunteer with them who pose a risk of harm, while operating in a way that reduces the burden on employers and better respects the civil liberties of the individual.

As part of the review into reform, Sunita Mason the Independent Advisor on Criminality Information Management, presented two reports called 'A common sense approach' - phase one and phase two.

In December 2011, the government responded to the recommendations of the phase two report.

Key changes to disclosure and barring

The key changes to the disclosure and barring scheme include:

  • abolishing registration and monitoring requirements
  • redefining the scope of 'regulated activities' - those are the activities involving close work with vulnerable groups, including children, which a barred person must not do
  • abolishing 'controlled activities'

But a barring function will be maintained.

The changes to those systems are included in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, which recently received Royal Assent. These changes have not yet come into effect, but some will commence on 10 September 2012. You can find more information on these changes in our leaflet, 'Changes to disclosure and barring: what you need to know'. Until then, it's business as usual.

The provisions also mean that the services of the Criminal Records Bureau and Independent Safeguarding Authority will be merged and a single, new non-departmental public body created. The new organisation will be called the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The planned operational date for the DBS is December 2012.

Business as usual

Until the changes come into force from 10 September 2012, it remains business as usual at the CRB and ISA. Therefore the safeguarding provisions introduced in October 2009 continue to apply, including the following:

  • a person who is barred by the Independent Safeguarding Authority from working in regulated activity will be breaking the law if they work or volunteer, or try to work or volunteer in regulated activity
  • an organisation that knowingly employs a barred individual to work in regulated activity will also be breaking the law
  • if your organisation provides regulated activity and you dismiss a member of staff or a volunteer because they have harmed, or posed a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult, or you would have done so if they had not left, you must refer this information to the Independent Safeguarding Authority

The Criminal Records Bureau continues to be responsible for the disclosure of criminal records and the Independent Safeguarding Authority for barring.

Related documents

Vetting and barring scheme

The vetting and barring scheme (VBS) was created to help safeguard children and adults by introducing new measures, including monitoring and registration requirements following the Bichard inquiry. Many thought the VBS, while well intentioned, was a disproportionate response to the risk posed by a small minority of people who wished to commit harm to vulnerable people.

Following a thorough review in February 2011, a number of its recommendations are included in the Protection of Freedoms Act.

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