Feeds

Gov hits brakes on vetting scheme

Buh-bye barring

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Further erosion of New Labour’s Big Brother state looks likely to take place later today when Home Secretary Theresa May announces that the government is stopping implementation of the Vetting and Barring scheme (VBS), which was due to go live next month.

As regular readers will be aware, this scheme required any adult who built up a position of trust with children or vulnerable persons to be vetted by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). Failure to be vetted would have been a criminal offence, with both employer and employee subject to substantial fines.

According to the Home Office, the scheme would eventually have covered some nine million adults; but our own analysis, taking into account social pressures to be seen as "safe", suggested a much higher figure - possibly as high as 14 million.

A series of critics, from children's authors to most recently the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), expressed concerns that this scheme was intrusive and potentially unjust. It would enable the state, on the basis of hearsay evidence alone, to determine whether a third to a half of the adult population in the UK could work in their chosen profession. The RCN believed it constituted a fundamental breach of human rights.

Voluntary registration with the VBS for new employees and job-movers working or volunteering with children and vulnerable adults was due to start on 26 July. This registration has now been stopped.

The Home Office, in partnership with Department of Health and Department for Education, are currently putting the finishing touches to the scope for a remodelling exercise, with details to be announced shortly.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: "The safety of children and vulnerable adults is of paramount importance to the new Government. However, it is also vital that we take a measured approach in these matters.

"We’ve listened to the criticisms and will respond with a scheme that has been fundamentally remodelled. Vulnerable groups must be properly protected in a way that is proportionate and sensible. This redrawing of the vetting and barring scheme will ensure this happens."

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton reaffirmed the government’s commitment to protecting vulnerable children, but expressed concerns that it would drive a wedge between children and well-meaning adults. He said: "Any vetting system should not be a substitute for proper vigilance by individuals and society. At the moment we think the pendulum has swung too far."

For Labour, Shadow Home Office Minister Meg Hillier MP said: "Labour had already reviewed and altered the scheme. It was never about vetting private family arrangements or infrequent contact with children.

"The scheme was designed to ensure that parents could be certain their children were safe when in the care of professionals and regular volunteers who may be unknown to them. Once again we see a kneejerk reaction, a symbolic halt and yet another review."

While the review takes place, existing arrangements under the Scheme will continue. The ISA will still maintain two constantly updated lists: one for those barred from working with children, the other for those barred from working with vulnerable adults.

Existing requirements concerning Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Access Northern Ireland checks will remain in place, and employers are still legally obliged to refer information to the ISA if they have moved or removed an individual because they have harmed or there is a risk of harm to a member of a vulnerable group.

While many will welcome this announcement, the questions that the scheme was originally set up to answer now return. The existing CRB system is cumbersome: it requires frequent renewal of registrations and also requires multiple registration, where adults have several separate points of contact with vulnerable groups.

These issues will still need to be resolved under any new scheme. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.