There will be a review of vulnerable adult protection in Northern Ireland.
Edwin Poots,The Northern Ireland Health Minister is looking into creating new policy to ensure the protection of vulnerable adults in care. His announcement of a review of the system came after the number of people alleging abuse against vulnerable adults was revealed to be 1,184 referrals to health trusts in 2009-2010, the last year for which there is accurate data. Of these 1,184 referrals almost two-thirds, 750, were considered serious enough for a protection plan to be put in place.
Responsibility for child protection falls to the department of health and the five health and social care trusts who are individually responsible for providing residential care services to children and young people within their areas.
There were also 1,271 child protection referrals for the quarter ending 31 March 2011, which was almost 20% higher compared with both the previous quarter and the same quarter in 2010. Continue reading Review of vulnerable adult protection in NI
Ofsted has launched a consultation on the inspection of maintained schools and academies in England, following proposals announced in the 2011 Education Bill. This Bill aims to re-focus school inspection on the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom, backed by leadership and good discipline in schools. The consultation seeks views on how Ofsted will implement these changes, including when Ofsted should inspect.
Outstanding schools will no longer be subject to routine inspections unless concerns about their performance are identified, and the consultation asks for views on the factors inspectors should consider when assessing whether an inspection is needed. In addition, it asks for views on plans to carry out more frequent inspections of weaker schools and on the circumstances in which schools may request an inspection. Ofsted will also be testing the new inspection arrangements in pilot inspections, with a view to introducing the new system in January 2012, subject to the successful passage of the Education Bill. Continue reading Ofsted Consultation on School Inspections
The Daily Mail reported on a press release by the Manifesto Club about the scale of volunteer vetting. “Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that almost a million checks were made last year, a six-fold increase since the CRB was launched in 2002.”
The Club, which campaigns against over-regulation, claims that many local authorities – even Tory ones – are still demanding ‘blanket’ vetting of volunteers. Josie Appleton, director of the Manifesto Club, said: ‘The Government has made some fine statements criticising over-use of the CRB checks but these haven’t affected anything on the ground. ‘CRB checking is leading to the collapse of valuable community services and the loss of the best and most generous volunteers in our communities.’
A Home Office spokesman said the CRB was working to restore ‘proportionality’ to its service and added: ‘We are also clear that there are occasions that these checks are vital to protect public safety.’
Daily Mail Article
Sunita Mason, the Government’s Independent Advisor for Criminality Information Management, is reviewing the Criminal Records Regime in Northern Ireland and is seeking stakeholders opinions.
The Northern Ireland Criminal Records Regime (NICRR) review will examine the use of the criminal record disclosure system for employment vetting in Northern Ireland to determine whether this is proportionate ,while still protecting the public and vulnerable groups.
It will consider specific aspects of AccessNI’s work , how criminal records are currently managed in Northern Ireland and consider whether there are any improvements that could be made. The consultation will be open until 13 May.
Terms of Reference
Submissions to Consultation
An alliance of Sports Governing Bodies are challenging the new definition of Regulated Activity that is emerging from study of the Protection of Freedoms Bill. Some of the proposed details are open to interpretation and will have significant impact on established practice and policies. For instance :
- Regulated Activity will no longer include any supervised teaching, training or instruction. In a sporting context, this requires clear definition. as the environment is so different to a school. The Faith sector are also likely to be unhappy with the implications of this change.
- Current proposals are that only the applicant will receive the CRB disclosure. Clarity is needed on how National Sports Governing Bodies, and other professional regulators will receive this
- There will be a charge for the updating service. How this will work for volunteers and whether they will still be able to get checks for free is not clear.
Continue reading Sport challenges safeguarding changes
The Protection of Freedoms Bill is the first time that a new element called a “Public Reading Stage” will be introduced. It means that members of the public can comment directly on clauses of the Bill. These comments should contribute to the points made by MPs across all parties during the debates and committee stages – so it is an important opportunity.
The website can be found here – http://publicreadingstage.cabinetoffice.gov.uk – do add your perspectives with practical examples from your sector as this a very complex area which has been subject to sweeping misrepresentation in the media. Since only very low level stakeholder engagement is likely this is the best opportunity to amend some aspects of the legislation such as the availability of disclosures, scope of regulated activity and the level of guidance available.
Also register with us so that you receive our briefing papers on each of these topics and more.
The Children’s Rights Alliance for England (Crae) has applied for a judicial review of the refusal by the justice secretary, Ken Clarke, to identify and contact children who may have been unlawfully restrained in privately run secure training centres.
Under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act, all prison and probation officers would have been checked and monitored for their ongoing suitablity for the role as prisoners and people on probation would have been considered as being ‘vulnerable adults’. It remains to be clarified whether this promised level of protection will be compromised under the halving of the numbers defined as doing ‘regulated activity’ under the Protection of Freedoms Bill. Continue reading Judicial review of unlawful child restraint
Local media herald the merger of the Darlington-based Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) and the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB), in Liverpool as a head to head fight for nearly 1000 jobs. Continue reading Job losses at CRB & ISA
Details of the new Criminal Records regime will be announced today as part of the all encompassing Protection of Freedoms Bill. Points that are likely to emerge when it is published are:
- The need for checks to be drastically reduced to ‘common sense’ levels -now it will only apply to those who have the most close and regular contact with children or vulnerable adults, such as professional childcare workers or teachers. The total number who will need to undergo background checks will halve to around 4.5million, although who this includes does not appear to have been defined judging from the interview given by Nick Clegg his morning on BBC.
- Continual updating and portability will be enabled so that teachers and care home workers who do require checks will have their records constantly updated. This is seen as a key benefit and was already planned in by CRB.
- The content of CRBs will be reviewed – for instance the changes will also drastically cut the use of ‘soft intelligence’ when examining a person’s history. Unproven allegations will only be placed on a person’s record if a Chief Constable believes they are true.
Checks that are unnecessary and which breach an employee’s privacy could be referred to the data protection watchdog, the Information Commissioner, and any employer found knowingly to have requested an unlawful check could face fines running to thousands of pounds. This will prevent the over zealous use of CRBs such as the school in Warrington that would not be allowed into the premises to see their children.
- the Independent Safeguarding Authority will be merged with the Criminal Records Bureau. Continue reading Reduced CRB regime announced
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.” Continue reading CRB & ISA to merge into new body
Ministers have withdrawn 18 bodies from the Public Bodies Bill, which contains the list of 192 bodies to be abolished or scrapped and the 118 to be merged. The Parole Board, the Criminal Cases Review Commission and the Surveillance Commissioners have been withdrawn along with bodies that select judges, draw up sentencing guidelines and investigate miscarriages of justice in England and Wales.
The government amendment of the Public Bodies Bill followed concerns raised in the House of Lords, after peers expressed fears that the proposed cull could put the independence of the judiciary at risk. Liberal Democrat peer Lord Goodhart welcomed the change of heart:
“I thought a lot of the proposals in the bill were wrong but I thought this was the worst of them, because it is an absolutely essential part of our constitution now that it should be a role of an independent body to select the judicial appointments,” he said.
BBC news report
From Hansard – written answer relating to the future of the ISA Continue reading Questions as the VBS review is awaited
The terms of reference for the reviews of the criminal records regime and of the vetting & barring scheme have been announced: Continue reading Terms of Reference for reviews agreed
Lord Young, the Prime Minister’s adviser on health and safety law and practice, published his report Common Sense, Common Safety His recommendations could have a huge impact on safeguarding culture and approach Continue reading Lord Young reviews health & safety
Minister for Sport and the OIympics Hugh Robertson announced a review to cut red-tape and bureaucracy that hits sports clubs and holds back participation. It will be conducted by The Central Council of Physical Recreation (CCPR) and will look at a number of areas including licensing regulations, planning rules affecting sports facilities, and the impact of safeguarding requirements on sports volunteering.
Theresa May announced that further implementation of the vetting and barring scheme would be halted pending a review of the scheme. Continue reading Launch of Scheme delayed
Sunita Mason was appointed the Independent Advisor for Criminality Information Management in September 2009 to consider issues arising as a result of the ‘five constables’ case and increasing public debate on the use of personal information.
Her report A Balanced Approach looked at how government agencies share information to protect the public as well as the retention and use of criminal record information held by the police on the Police National Computer (PNC).