Employers could face imprisonment or a fine of £5,000 for employing someone to work with children or vulnerable adults who has not been through the new central vetting system, under measures set out in a bill today.
Education secretary Ruth Kelly published the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill which makes it an offence for employers to take on staff to work with children or vulnerable adults that they know are barred.
Kelly said: “While the government has a responsibility to set the right framework, employers, parents and the police have a responsibility to make sure the system works to protect children.”
“We must all play our part and by working together we can ensure children are better protected,” she added.
The bill also brings together the current List 99, protection of Children Act lists and provides for a new list of people barred from working with vulnerable adults to replace the protection of Vulnerable Adults List.
The Bill also includes:-
• responsibility being transferred from ministers to a new independent statutory board for decision as about whether someone should be barred from working with children
• domestic employers such as parents will be able to check whether nannies or private tutors are barred
• employers will be able to check whether a prospective employee is barred with secure online access rather than the current paper-based process
• plans for updating barring decisions as soon as new information becomes available.
Kelly added: “I am acting to take ministers out of the vetting process. I firmly believe sensitive child protection decisions should be taken by experts, not politicians.
“This Bill brings forward root-and-branch reform I promised ensuring we have a far more comprehensive and coordinated system.”
Sir Michael Bichard said: “I am very pleased to welcome the introduction of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill. If enacted it will meet one of the key recommendations of my report – the need for a single routinely updated and easily accessible register of people who are not fit to work with children and vulnerable adults.”
The bill is from www.parliament.uk