As from today, some employers and suppliers of personnel who suspect that an employee or volunteer may be a risk to children or vulnerable adults must tell the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), which will vet the individuals concerned.
The ISA will work with the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) in checking that individuals working in regulated activities – such as teaching, training, care, supervision and transporting of children and vulnerable adults – are fit to do so.
Sir Roger Singleton, ISA chairman, said: “Today is the first major step in enhancing the safeguarding of vulnerable groups, since the creation of the ISA. It brings with it a new era where, under the Vetting and Barring Scheme, we are strengthening information sharing with employers and regulatory bodies to reduce the opportunities for unsuitable people having access to children and vulnerable adults.
“The 400-plus referrals that the ISA already receives a month are testament to the fact that every day employers are removing individuals from their jobs because of their inappropriate behaviour or actions. Once this information is referred to us, our job is to independently assess the individual and decide, based on all the information that is known, whether the individual poses a on-going risk of harm.”
Those who have a statutory duty to report suspicious individuals to the ISA include local authorities, schools, charities, hospitals and social care bodies, and personnel suppliers (recruitment agencies).
It is now a crime for a barred individual to seek or undertake work with vulnerable groups, and for employers to knowingly take them on.
The punishment is imprisonment of up to five years or a fine of up to £5,000. It will also be a criminal offence for an employer to take on an individual in a controlled activity if they fail to check their status.
From 26 July 2010, all new entrants to roles working with vulnerable groups and those switching jobs within these sectors may register with the ISA and be checked by them. From November 2010, all employees carrying out a regulated activity must register with the scheme.