Government plans to scale back vetting and barring scheme
Today the Government has revealed plans to scale back the vetting and barring scheme (VBS) and criminal records scheme.
The existing scheme has been comprehensively reviewed, but some of the main proposals being put forward include:
- A large reduction in the number of positions requiring checks to just those working most closely and regularly with children and vulnerable adults.
- Portability of criminal records checks between jobs.
- An end to the requirement for those working or volunteering with vulnerable groups to register with the VBS and them be continuously monitored by the Independent Safeguarding Authority.
- The merging of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding authority (ISA) to form a new body that will provide a barring and criminal records checking service.
These changes apply only to England and Wales. Full information on the scheme can be found at www.gov.uk/security-vetting-and-clearance
The Scout Association's official response
The Scout Association carries out more CRB checks than any other single voluntary organisation with over 60,000 CRB checks undertaken every year. We are supported by 100,000 volunteers and have seen the number of volunteers working with young people in Scout groups up and down the country increase year on year for four years.
There is plenty about the new scheme to recommend it and we are pleased that the Government has listened to most of our concerns.
We are pleased that the Government has recognised that many volunteers do so in a number of different capacities and has made provision for CRB checks to be portable. This will be welcomed by our many volunteers who often offer a significant amount of their time to support numerous charitable organisations.
However, we fear that the proposed changes to criminal record checks will add to the burden faced by voluntary organisations such as the Scouts.
The decision to send a single copy of the CRB disclosure to a potential volunteer who must then pass it to their local Scout leader will undoubtedlysave the Government money but it will increase the amount of bureaucracy expected of local volunteers, who give their time to support young people not to chase CRBs. We call on the Government to retain a system where a copy of the CRB disclosure is sent direct to the organisation to ensure that local volunteers remain free to do what they do best, unfettered by unnecessary bureaucracy.
We accept the concern that in some cases this might mean that incorrect information could be disclosed to voluntary organisations before an individual has a right to redress, however we believe that a seven day delay could be introduced between the individual and the registered body receiving the CRB check. This would allow a person the opportunity to check and appeal any inaccurate information without tying existing volunteers on the ground up in bureaucratic knots.
We would welcome the opportunity to work with the Government to find solutions to these issues to ensure that young people are properly safeguarded from harm and organisations like ours, committed to supporting young people across the country, are not burdened by unnecessary bureaucracy.