Government announces significant scaling back of vetting and barring scheme

The Government has announced plans to significantly scale back the vetting and barring scheme, which applies to individuals working with children and vulnerable adults. 

The plans have been made following a suspension and review of the Labour Government's vetting and barring scheme, which the coalition Government has described as "over-intrusive". 

The proposals include: 

  • merging the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority to form a streamlined new body that provides a proportionate barring and criminal records checking service;
  • limiting the requirement for criminal records checks to individuals who work closely and regularly with children and vulnerable adults;
  • transferring criminal records checks between jobs to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy;
  • ending the requirement for those working or volunteering with vulnerable groups to register with the vetting and barring scheme and to be continuously monitored; and
  • preventing employers that are not entitled from knowingly requesting criminal records checks on individuals. 

The Government has also indicated that it will keep the scope of CRB checks under review to ensure that they do not discourage people from volunteering. 

The changes will be made by the Protection of Freedoms Bill and, if the legislation is enacted, will affect around nine million people. Subject to parliamentary approval, the Bill is expected to come into force by early 2012. 

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, which provides the legislative framework for the existing vetting and barring scheme, came into force on 8 November 2006. The overall purpose of the Act was to minimise the risk of harm to children and vulnerable adults by workers who might seek to cause them harm. The Act is already partly implemented and was due to be phased in over time. However, on 15 June 2010, the coalition Government announced that it was halting registration with the vetting and barring scheme, so that it could remodel it "back to proportionate, common sense levels". 


The XpertHR quick reference section pulls together in one place key employment law requirements, including Criminal record checks, Jobs where it is lawful to ask for details of spent convictions and Rehabilitation periods

The Job applicants with convictions section of the XpertHR employment law manual explains the current law on employers' obligations in relation to criminal record checks and the protection of children and vulnerable adults.