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Vetting of Employees: Introducing the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS)

Many businesses – healthcare, childcare, education etc. – will be aware of the necessary but challenging overhead of safeguarding.

Following the Bichard Inquiry back in 2004, the Vetting and Barring Scheme was instituted in 2009 to help safeguard children and vulnerable adults. Its regulations still apply, and they state that:

  • a person who is barred from working with children or vulnerable adults will be breaking the law if they work or volunteer, or try to work or volunteer with those groups
  • an organisation which knowingly employs someone who is barred from working with those groups is also breaking the law
  • if your organisation works with children or vulnerable adults and you dismiss a member of staff or a volunteer because they have harmed a child or vulnerable adult, or you would have done so if they had not left, you must inform the Independent Safeguarding Authority.

That much should be day-to-day best practice in regulated businesses.

However, it’s been acknowledged that VBS placed some fairly onerous monitoring and registration requirements onto company managers. A review in 2011 therefore subsumed some of VBS’ ongoing recommendations into the Protection of Freedoms Bill, and will also lead to the creation of a new administrative body.

The key changes include:

  • abolishing registration and monitoring requirements
  • redefining the scope of 'regulated activities'
  • abolishing 'controlled activities'.

However, a role in making independent barring decisions following referrals from employers or through the Autobar process will continue. The new administrative body is to be called the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), and is effectively a merger of the Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority. The DBS is expected to launch in November this year and will become the likely first port of call for safeguarding queries and checks.

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