CRB & ISA to merge into new body

An article in the Telegraph pre-empts the announcement about the results of the criminal records regime review by Sunita Mason and the parallel one into the Vetting & Barring Scheme. Headline: “An anti-paedophile vetting scheme that would have involved nine million adults will be ripped up next week in a major reworking of how background checks are conducted.” It continues: Labour’s much criticised Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) will no longer go ahead, with the vetting of individuals “very significantly” curtailed.

Only those in sensitive posts or who have intensive contact with children or vulnerable people will need to be cleared and undergo criminal record checks.

Instead of millions having to register themselves with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), which would conduct criminal record checks and oversee a national database, the onus will shift to the employer to ensure staff are properly checked and cleared to work.

The number of people affected is expected to more than halve.

In a related move, criminal record checks will no longer be sent directly to potential employers but to the individual first to allow them to challenge any concerns or suspected errors.

New rules will also pave the way for minor offences in the past to no longer be included in checks.

The Coalition pledged to restore vetting to “common sense” levels.

The reform, to be included in the Freedom Bill published next week, aims to reverse the notion that everyone is a potential risk to children.

A Whitehall source said the proposals would result in a “very significant scaling back” of the vetting scheme.

“It will tread a sensible line between, on the one hand, making sure that sensible people, volunteers and everyone, are not let down by this ridiculous, bureaucratic system and on the other hand protecting children and passing the ‘school caretaker test’.”

The VBS was set up in the wake of the Soham murders. Ian Huntley was given a job as a school caretaker after checks failed to pick up sex-related allegations.

The scheme was to have taken effect last autumn but was halted by the Coaltion pending a review. The VBS will not go entirely, but will be dramatically reduced and is likely to be renamed.

The £80 million ISA will be merged with the Criminal Records Bureau into a single organisation responsible for checking people’s backgrounds and clearing them for work.