Latest ISA updates
Please note, the registration element of the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) has been halted as part of the Coalition Government's VBS review. There is no longer a requirement for those working or volunteering with vulnerable groups to register with the ISA.
Criminal records review
The Government’s independent adviser for criminality information management Sunita Mason was commissioned to undertake an independent review into the criminal records regime. This work, which was undertaken in two phases, has now been completed with Mrs Mason’s second report being published.
To read the report, click here.
The Government has also published its formal response to both phases of the review.
To read the Government’s response, click here.
This review into the criminal records regime follows the recent review into the Vetting & Barring Scheme (under which the Independent Safeguarding Authority operates). Both reviews made several recommendations which require legislation. These are included in the Protection of Freedoms Bill.
The recommendations within the Bill scale back the scheme. This will include the abolition of the requirement to register with the Scheme and its monitoring requirements, and the reduction in the range of posts in which barred people cannot work or volunteer. The provisions also mean that the services of The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) will be merged and a single, new Non-Departmental Public Body created in place of the previous two organisations.
The new organisation will be called the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
Impact of the Bill
The Bill is supported by lengthy explanatory notes, however reading them requires copies of a number of other Acts to hand as they cross refer. SafeguardingMatters have produced summaries of the key topics including:
- the revised scope of regulated activity
- changes to the definition of vulnerable adults
- management of registered bodies and regulators
- how the numbers eligible for the vetting and disclsoure service will be reduced from 9 million to 4.5million
The Protection of Freedoms Bill is likely to be voted through its first and second readings by mid March 2011 and will then move to the committee stage.
Response to the criminal records regime changes
There was mixed response to the changes, as the following posts and articles illustrate,
Other issues are adding to the complexity of the situation, such as the recent challenge to long term inclusion on the sex offenders register under human rights law, the Royal College of Nursing judicial review of the ISA barring process, and the cuts to regulatory bodies such as the General Teaching Council, Ofsted and CWDC. Register with SafeguardingMatters to keep up to date with developments
The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) helps organisations identify people who are unsuitable for certain types of work, especially work involving contact with children and other vulnerable members of society. The CRB achieves its aims through the Disclosure Service which offers access to records held by police, Department of Health and Department for Education and Skills
Levels of Disclosure
There are two different levels of Disclosure. Selecting the appropriate level depends on the position applied for and the type of work involved. Some positions naturally require more in-depth and more confidential information about an applicant than others.
These are available for:
- Paid staff or volunteers who have regular contact with children (under 18’s) or vulnerable adults
- Management committee members of organisations that work with children or vulnerable adults, whether they are in contact with them or not.
The Standard Disclosure includes:
- All convictions, spent and unspentDetails of cautions, reprimands or warnings held on the Police National Register
- All the information needed to tell whether an individual is disqualified from working with children under the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000.
If the position in question involves regular contact with children or vulnerable adults in education or healthcare, the Standard Disclosure will also include information held by the Department of Health and the Department for Education & Skills on people who are considered unsuitable to work with either children or vulnerable adults
These are available for:
- Posts which have greater contact with children or vulnerable adults eg people regularly caring for, supervising, training or being in sole charge of these groups.
Enhanced Disclosures contain the same information as Standard Disclosures but with the addition of any relevant information held by local police forces. The CRB recognises that the information handled in these Disclosures is extremely sensitive and personal; it has therefore published a Code of Practice to ensure cases are handled fairly and information is used properly.
Can any voluntary organisation make CRB checks on their staff and volunteers?
Only voluntary organisations that work with children or vulnerable adults can ask for Standard and Enhanced Disclosures. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 prevents other categories of voluntary organisations from obtaining this level of information.
What does ‘working with children’ mean?
The definition of working with children is based on the concept of the ‘regulated position’ contained in the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000. If a job (paid or unpaid) falls within one of the categories of regulated position then it is classed as working with children. Regulated positions include:
- Any employment in schools, childrens’ homes, day care premises where children are presentCaring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of childrenUnsupervised contact with children
- Other positions which give the kind of access or influence which could put children at risk if held by a disqualified person (eg management committee members)
Organisations are likely to fall into the definition of working with children include those which:
- Run youth clubsOrganise or arrange facilities or activities for childrenOffer counselling to childrenRun out of school play clubs
- Run play groups
What does working with vulnerable adults mean?
Disclosures are available for any paid or unpaid work which is concerned with the provision of health care services to vulnerable adults: eg
- Accommodation and nursing or personal care in a homePersonal care, nursing or support for a person living independentlySocial care services
- Any services provided in an establishment catering for a person with learning difficulties
Vulnerable adult means a person aged 18 or over who has one or more of the following conditions:
- A substantial learning or physical difficultyA physical or mental illness/mental disorder, including alcohol or drug addiction
- Significant reduction in mental capacity
There is no definitive list of positions for which criminal records checks are required or recommended but the CRB provides a range of helpful information.
Are disclosures compulsory for all relevant positions?
CRB legislation itself does not make it compulsory for organisations to make CRB checks for each relevant post. However, it is a criminal offence to knowingly offer paid or unpaid work with children to someone who is disqualified from working with children or to allow them to continue doing such work.
What is the procedure for applying for a disclosure?
Advice on the procedure for applying for a disclosure is available from CRB or from Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council HR Department.. Organisations should ensure that all job applicants are made aware early on in the recruitment process that a Disclosure will be sought (eg in the job advert) There should also be a statement to the effect that a criminal record will not necessarily be a bar to obtaining the position. It is the individual, rather than the organisation, who applies for a Disclosure. The application form will be countersigned by a body registered with the CRB for that purpose; these are known as an umbrella body (eg Redcar & Cleveland Social Services)
Can a Disclosure be used more than once?
A current Disclosure issued for one position may be suitable for another job or voluntary position eg someone taking up two positions that require Disclosures at more or less the same time could avoid making two applications to the CRB. The duties of the second post must be compatible with those relating to the position for which the Disclosure was originally issued. Each Disclosure reflects the position as at the date of issue. There is no time limit on the validity of a Disclosure but clearly the closer to the date of issue of the Disclosure, the more reliable its contents. The Charity Commission recommends that charities, as best practice, only accepts a previously issued Disclosure if it is no more than 3 months old. In all cases the overriding consideration must be safety.
For more information please contact
Karen McGarrity firstname.lastname@example.org
Ann Dale email@example.com
Or visit the Criminal Records Bureau website http://www.crb.gov.uk/