A Serious Piece On Understanding The Vetting and Barring System

This Monday saw the launch of the Vetting and Barring scheme, the new way for the Government to make sure that the people working with young people are suitable to do so. Many pixels have been spilt over what exactly the scheme entails, about what launches when, and who has to be vetted, and how exactly the government are going to stick “I’m a paedophile” stickers on anyone not registered. This is an attempt to clarify things some what. If you want to read the full documentation then start with the the guidance notes issued online at the Independent Safeguarding Authority website (pdf). This is essentially a slightly more sensible summary of that document aimed specifically at youth clubs and churches. So, from last Monday (the 12th of October) this is what has changed.

What is vetting?

Vetting is a process that Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) will do to people to make sure they are suitable to work with children (0-19’s) or vulnerable adults. As a worker you will register with the ISA and when needs be, an organisation will contact the ISA and they will tell them whether or not you are registered to work with children. The other options are you are not registered to work with children (and therefore you can’t do the job till you sign up) or you’re barred from working with children (therefore you very much obviously can’t do the job). There are two barred lists, one for children, and one for vulnerable adults and you organisations can check against either or both (if the person is working with both).

Who needs to be vetted?

It’s not about people who need to be vetted so much as activities that require the people doing them to be vetted. There are two types of activity that need vetting. The first is regulated activity. A regulated activity is any activity that involves working closely with children, young people, and vulnerable adults if you’re not a family member or friend and if you do it on frequent or intense basis (that phrase is a technical term which is defined as either once a month for consecutive months or more than three days in a row). It’s worth noting it doesn’t matter if you’re paid to do the work or not. Regulated activities include things like teaching, giving advice, and driving a vehicle for the specific purpose of transporting young people. The guidance specifically includes in this list of things regulated trustees of charities that deal with children or vulnerable adults and people who manage those doing regulated activities. Also, if you’re working in certain specified places, such as schools, children’s hospitals, or children’s centres no matter what you do, it’s a regulated activity. There is a list of these specified places, but youth centres and churches don’t come under the list.

Then there are controlled activities. These also need vetting, but have different rules as will see. A controlled activity is work done by the arrangement of someone who’s in a regulated activity that isn’t a regulated activity itself but does provide opportunity for contact with children or vulnerable adults on a frequent or intense basis (Or it provides opportunity for reading through their records on a frequent or intense basis). Like a regulated activity, managing the people in a controlled activity is a controlled activity.

How do I know which one I’m in? Essentially it boils down to this; if you could not do your job without working with a young person, you’re in a regulated activity. Also, if your place of work would not exist without the majority of people in it working with young people and the purpose of it being to work with young people, you’re in a regulated activity. If your job normally involves contact with young people or sensitive information about them, but could be altered so it doesn’t, you’re in a controlled activity.

How does this vetting work?

Regardless of what activity the people you employ do, you will need to check with the ISA whether they are barred from working with young people or vulnerable adults. If they’re are barred, they can under no circumstances do a regulated post, in fact, they should be shopped for trying to get employment in a regulated post when they know they are barred. They can, however, do a controlled activity even if they are barred if risk assessments are done that will prevent them from having contact with children.

How will this roll out?

April 2010: People going into a controlled activity will need to be CRB checked if they aren’t already.

July 26th 2010: If you’re moving into a new regulated activity you may register with the ISA if you want.

November 1st 2010: If you’re moving into a new regulated activity you must register with the ISA. It will be illegal for you to employ someone or have them volunteer with you in a regulated activity if they are not registered with the ISA.

April 1st 2011. Everyone already in a regulated activity can start registering with the ISA even if they haven’t moved into a new post.

January 1st 2014. Everyone already in a controlled activity should start registering with the ISA even if they haven’t moved posts (it’s not mentioned, but presumably if you move into a new controlled activity before now you should be checked with the ISA).

July 31 20151. Everyone in a controlled or regulated activity must be registered with the ISA (or be in a risk-assessed controlled activity if they’re barred with the ISA).

Anything else I need to know?

From the 12th of October you have a legal requirement to inform the ISA if you fire someone, or if you stop them working with children or vulnerable adults because you are concerned about them being a risk to the children or vulnerable adults. In serious cases the police or social services will probably do this, but you should too just to be sure. They will then decide whether that means they’re barred. If you do not do this you are committing a crime.

CRBs won’t vanish, though there is now more clarity over who needs an enhanced CRB and who needs a standard one. All regulated activities (and reading between the lines controlled ones too) now need enhanced CRBs. These will still be needed when registration roles out as that will just tell you whether someone is registered to work with young people. You will still want to do a CRB to make sure the person is not a criminal in other respects and to make sure they haven’t lied to you when they filled in their criminal record self-disclosure.

What don’t we know?

Well, we don’t quite know how anyone will actually register with the ISA yet, but seeing as no-one can till July, that’s fair enough. We also don’t know whether or not the current definition of frequent or intense will stand. After some protests the government is going to review it by December to see if it’s not too harsh. We also don’t know how organisations are going to let the ISA know they should be allowed to check to see if people are vetted, or how they’re going to prove they have a right to know this person here is vetted (so could I, at my work for example, ring them up and see if Mike Pilavachi was vetted?). Also, supposedly the ISA will contact organisations if someone registered with the ISA and working for the organisation gets barred, but we don’t know how that will work. Also, we don’t know how you’ll be able to stop an organisation knowing your vetting status (if I work for the Aberdeen Youth Service and then stop, could I ring up the ISA and tell them not to update the Aberdeen Youth Service about me anymore?). Also, got not idea how this will work with foreigners and crimes not committed in the UK.

Also, the onus is on you to register with the ISA, unlike CRBs where the onus was on the organisation to do one for you, but how will that work? If I move jobs will I have to sign up with ISA before I can accept the job? Needless to say, I’m going to be guinea pigging this system on the first person who volunteers with us after July next year, and reporting back the results.

Also, I’m sick of writing the word also.

In a sense, not knowing this is fine though, because we’ve got 10 months before it really rolls out properly. I’ll update this, or write something new in June when we should know lots more.

Can you give me some examples?

You work for a church as their youth worker. You volunteer over next summer for a Christian festival working with their detached team to work face-to-face with young people who aren’t engaging with the sessions. You can if you want to, register with the ISA, and that festival could check that you were safe to work via the ISA, but they don’t have to.

You work for a church as their youth worker. You volunteer again for the same Christian festival in the same role the year after (2011) (actually, joyfully, you’ve been promoted to team leader, but don’t let that go to your head). You have to register with the ISA if you aren’t already registered, and that festival has to check with the ISA that you’re registered. They check both lists, the children list and the vulnerable adults list, as you may well be working with vulnerable adults. You’re considered safe to work by the ISA. They still do a CRB because they think it’s important as a team leader to know about any other convictions as you’ll be handling cash, but you’re clean on that too. Well done. You’ve got the role.

It’s next June. You employ a new care-taker who’ll be in the building while young people are. He also has all the keys to everything and can access data for the youths. He’s in a controlled activity so you make him do a CRB before he starts. It turns out he once beat up a small child because he didn’t like their face. You judge him not safe to work with children so you risk-assess his job and work out a way that he’ll never be in the building with young people, and if he has to be he’ll be accompanied. The safe with the young people’s data in is given a new key which he can’t access.

You do anything at all, even slightly, for more than a week in a school. It’s a regulated activity, you need to be registered with the ISA.

It’s December 2010. A volunteer comes to you to work with the elderly. He wants to visit them one to one. You check him the with ISA and it turns out he’s stolen from old people before. You report him to the police, whereupon he is arrested and heavily fined.

It’s May 2010. A volunteer who’s been working with you for five years repeatedly threatens to throw a small child off a building and you’re not sure they aren’t joking. You ask him to stop volunteering. You then legally have to tell the ISA that you asked him to stop volunteering for those reasons. The ISA then decide that that’s enough to bar him for working with small children. He hates you forever, but you’ve done your job, so suck it up.

Every spring you get a bunch of Americans over for spring break to volunteer with your charity and do some work with the young people. They’ll be doing two weeks solid of work. This counts as frequent work, and therefore they are in a regulated activity. They need to be registered with the ISA before they can work. If they are not, you are breaking the law. (This may change when they possibly alter the definition of frequent work, but we won’t know that till November. Also we’re not sure how we register foreigners yet, or how quick the process will be).

Comments are on to ask questions I don’t know the answers to.


As pointed out in the comments, I was wrong about standard CRB’s disappearing. I’ve changed this entry to reflect that. Also, some of the questions I asked have their answers in the official FAQ on the guidance. I shall endeavour to write them up here at some point.

1 2015! I’ll definitely have my jet-pack by then.

5 thoughts on “A Serious Piece On Understanding The Vetting and Barring System”

  1. Ok, how about this one. As a church running a youth club and a sunday school where all of our volunteers already have enhanced CRBs do we then also have to be checked by the ISA or is our CRB enough?

  2. That’s the right thing to do right now, but you will eventually have to have all your volunteers and staff working with children ISA registered. That’s a proper regulated post as it’s face to face on a frequent basis, so all existing staff can start signing up April 1st 2011. Any new staff that join from next November will have to be registered. Not sure quite how you’ll do that yet, but when I know, I’ll blog about it.

  3. You said “CRBs won’t vanish, though all CRBs will now be enhanced.” Are you sure about that? The ISA will run an enhanced CRB when you register with them, but the standard CRB is still available separately, isn’t it?

  4. Capnbob, you sir, are entirely correct. Apologies I must have misread the documentation (I’ve updated the entry to reflect this). All CRBs for regulated activities must be enhanced. Standard CRBs will still exist for other purposes. Essentially then, they’ve just redefined and clarified the line for who gets an enhanced CRB and who doesn’t.

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