So today Ed Balls stood up in parliament and announced that revisions where going to be made to the way the vetting and barring scheme would work. This is not a surprise, this is how government policy works, and this is one of the reasons why things roll-out slowly. You can read his statement here or if you’re really geeky the full report into the vetting and barring scheme (pdf) which makes the recommendations that today have been brought in. If you can’t be bothered with that (and who could blame you) here is the summary of the summary.
Remember the phrase “frequent or intense“? That was the government’s shorthand for what sort of contact with children crosses the threshold and requires you to be vetted. They’ve slackened off on the definition of it now, so you need to be in working with young people more on a very frequent and really intense basis now. Here’s how the government word it now:
Changing the definition of “frequency” within the scheme from once a month or more to once a week or more.
Making a parallel change to the “intensive” definition, from three or more days in a 30 day period, or overnight, to four or more days in a 30 day period, or overnight.
The intensive definition makes little difference for most youth workers I imagine. The change to the frequency definition could make some significant difference though. Say if you rota volunteer leaders on a fortnightly basis, under this new definition they wouldn’t be engaging in a regulated activity and you wouldn’t need to vet them. However, if you’re seeing the same young people every week in church, even if you’re only leading them once a month, you’re still seeing them in the capacity of a leader. If they ask for advice, or you chat to them once a week, should you be vetted? I don’t know. Probably as a good guideline, if you expect your leaders (and it’s in the task description you’ve given them when they signed up1) to engage with them on a regular basis outside of the rota’d sunday school, they need to be vetted.
Other things of note that have changed, again from the statement.
Removing the requirement to register with the scheme if regulated activity is carried out frequently in different settings (such as schools) rather than taking place frequently in a single setting;
Raising the minimum age at which young people should be required to register from 16 to 18, where the regulated activity in which they are engaged is organised as part of their studies – for example a community service programme involving volunteering work with children or vulnerable adults
Allowing workers from overseas who bring their own groups of children or vulnerable adults into this country to be exempt from registering for up to 3 months for the work they do with the children or vulnerable adults they have brought to the UK; and
Regarding school exchange visits lasting less than 28 days, where the overseas family accepts the responsibility for the selection of the host family, as private arrangements which are exempt from the scheme.
I can only imagine the first of those will make a difference to most people, and then only those who go into a variety of different schools.
And those are the changes made now. There is though, tantalisingly, the promise that the government will investigate the awkward middle ground that is the controlled activity and may ditch it. They’ll also try and clarify when people need to get a CRB once they’ve registered with the ISA.
1 You have right?