What are the main changes in force from 10 September 2012 to the vetting and barring scheme for people working with children and vulnerable adults?

The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 makes a number of amendments to the vetting and barring scheme under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, which are in force from 10 September 2012.

The 2012 Act introduces a new definition of "regulated activity" in relation to children (see Under the vetting and barring scheme, what constitutes "regulated activity" in relation to children?).

There is also a new definition of "regulated activity" in relation to vulnerable adults. In addition to a change to the activities covered (see Under the vetting and barring scheme, what constitutes "regulated activity" in relation to vulnerable adults?), there is no longer a requirement for the activity to be carried out frequently or intensively.

The 2012 Act amends the definition of "vulnerable adults". Prior to the amendments, the definition of vulnerable adults included individuals aged 18 or above: in residential care or sheltered housing; detained in lawful custody; in receipt of domiciliary care, healthcare or welfare services; or in receipt of services for people who need those services because of, for example, their age or disability. Following the amendments, a vulnerable adult is any adult (ie a person aged 18 or above) in relation to whom regulated activities are carried out. In other words, adults are regarded as vulnerable adults if they require regulated activities to be provided on their behalf at that particular time.

The Act repeals the "controlled activity" category. Prior to 10 September 2012, employers, local authorities and employment businesses and agencies had a duty to refer information to the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) (now replaced by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)) where an individual carrying out "controlled activities" (ie activities that were not regulated activities but that allowed the individual the opportunity to have contact with vulnerable groups or to have access to certain records relating to vulnerable groups) has resigned or been dismissed, or would or could have been dismissed, because he or she has harmed, or may harm, a child or vulnerable adult. The duty to refer information to the DBS remains in relation to individuals dismissed (or who would have been dismissed) from "regulated activities".

Under the 2006 Act as it was originally introduced, individuals who wished to work or volunteer with vulnerable groups would have had to register with, and be monitored by, the ISA. The 2012 Act repeals this requirement.