Labour’s controversial Vetting and Barring Scheme is to be scaled back after critics claimed it could result in 12,000 innocent people being labelled as unsuitable to work with children.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the national scheme is being reviewed and will “very significantly” curtail the vetting of individuals for their suitability to work with children and vulnerable adults. It was estimated that the scheme would require about nine million people to register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).
The Home Office confirmed an announcement about the changes would be made this week, once the Freedom Bill has been laid before parliament.
It is expected that the onus will be shifted to employers to ensure their staff are safe to work with vulnerable groups.
Community Care understands that criminal record checks will be sent to individuals only so job applicants or volunteers can present their disclosures to prospective employers. It will be the responsibility of employers to request further details or checks if they have concerns, but it is unclear whether they would incur extra costs.
The review – led by Sunita Mason, the government’s independent adviser for criminality information management – is expected to halve the number of people who will need to obtain criminal record checks before they can work with children.
Community Care understands that only those with intensive contact with children and vulnerable adults will have a statutory duty to submit themselves for vetting procedures. However, exactly where this line will be drawn will remain unclear until the changes are published.
Experts, including Nacro, the crime reduction charity, have welcomed the news. “The level of checks has escalated disproportionately since they were established,” a spokesperson said. “It means that good people who have made a mistake and turned their backs on crime have their careers and hope for rehabilitation put on the line because the legislation policy is complex and confuses employers.”
But others have raised concerns that giving employers more discretion about the suitability of their staff or volunteers will carry greater risks.
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