A new centralised vetting and barring system introduced by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) came into force on 12 October 2009, as a response to the Bichard Inquiry following the Soham murders in 2002. The ISA will hold two barred lists: one relating to children and one relating to vulnerable adults, replacing the previous three barring lists. An individual placed on either one of the lists will be barred from carrying out any “regulated activity” which essentially means most activities working directly with children or vulnerable adults, or with data related to them.

Once the scheme is fully implemented, it will mean that anyone who wants to work or volunteer with children or vulnerable adults in “regulated activity” will be required to register with the ISA. They will be able to do this via the Criminal Records Bureau. Registration with the scheme will commence on 26 July 2010 and employers will not need to register their employees until then.

From 12 October 2009 employers will be able to check a person’s ISA registration status online free of charge. Employers who fail to carry out the necessary checks or recruit people in regulated activities who are not ISA registered will face tough penalties. The ISA will also have responsibility for making reasonable efforts to contact employers if an existing employee is placed on one of the barred lists. If an employee is dismissed because they are identified as a risk to children or vulnerable adults, the employer will be legally obliged to report the dismissal to the ISA.

All employers taking on individuals to work in a regulated activity must first confirm the individual’s ISA status. This applies to paid employees and volunteers and includes young people on work experience. Employers who knowingly employ a barred individual or fail to carry out the necessary checks will be liable to fine of up to £5,000 or up to five years in prison. The barred individual will also be liable to a sentence of up to five years’ imprisonment if they seek, offer or engage in activity from which they are barred.

Further information can be obtained from the CRB website

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.