In the UK, the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults is achieved by a combination of measures. At the heart is employers and voluntary group organisers having access to Criminal Records to ’vet’ those wanting to work with vulnerable groups, which includes disclosure of those barred by the ISA. It also includes shared best practice in safer recruitment and whistleblowing procedures. The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 made a number of changes, including the establishment of the Vetting & Barring Scheme, as recommended by Lord Bichard, which has now been dropped via the Protection of Freedoms Act.
In parallel, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act is also being reviewed by the Ministry of Justice to ensure that those with past offences are not unfairly excluded from working, including with vulnerable groups.
There are also a number of changes that will impact employer’s HR and recruitment policies, with the aim of ‘reducing bureaucracy’. These include the Employer’s Charter, and the Education Bill which tackles the issue of falsely accused teachers.
However analysis of the behaviour of those who seek to abuse children and vulnerable adults illustrates their manipulative behaviour and organisations have to be sure their policies and procedures are robust.