Sharp rise in numbers barred from work with vulnerable people

The number of people barred from working with vulnerable children and adults has increased by more than 60% over the past year. Roger Singleton (pictured), chair of the Independent Safeguarding Authority, said: "In our decision-making we are committed to ensuring that the people referred to us are treated individually."

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The number of people barred from working with vulnerable children and adults has increased by more than 60% over the past year.

Figures released by the Independent Safeguarding Authority today show the number of people prevented from working with vulnerable adults under the controversial vetting and barring scheme rose from 19,100 in March 2010 to 32,200 in March 2011.

The number barred from working with vulnerable children rose from 21,400 to 35,600 during the same period. Some people are on both lists.

However, the number of referrals from employers and regulatory bodies has remained roughly the same. The ISA received 5,361 referrals in 2010-11, compared to 5,357 the previous year.

A spokesperson for the ISA said the number of people barred had increased after October 2009, when the full barring provisions of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act came into force. In particular, the range of offences for which people are automatically barred was increased.

Roger Singleton, chair of the ISA, added: “In our decision-making we are committed to ensuring that the people referred to us are treated individually and that a decision, such as whether to bar someone or not, is proportionate to any future risk that is posed.”

The vetting and barring scheme was launched by Labour in October 2009 as a result of the Bichard Inquiry, which followed the Soham murders. This inquiry recommended that all those who work with vulnerable groups should be registered.

In June 2010, the coalition government announced its intention to drastically remodel the scheme and scale back plans to register nine million people working with vulnerable children and adults. The changes were outlined in the Freedoms Bill, which is expected to become law by early 2012.

But a report by the Child Protection All Party Parliamentary Group, also published today, urged the government to prevent any changes to the scheme that could allow “unscrupulous people” to target children.

Meg Munn MP, chair of the group, said: “Parents need to be reassured that the vetting scheme will protect their children from known paedophiles and the government should improve the legislation to tighten up the loopholes we have identified.

“It is very important that the regulated activity category covers all those positions where individuals have regular close contact with children and can easily develop trusting relationships with them. A lack of clarity in the legislation will make it easier for unscrupulous people to target children.”

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