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Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006

View profile for Karen Edwards
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There are many problems which face employers who wish to check the criminal records of prospective employees or existing employees. In many sectors such as the care and education sectors, employers are under a legal duty to carry out checks on employees, for obvious reasons. However, with the gradual coming into force of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (SVGA), change is just around the corner. The SVGA was introduced to address the failings in child protection measures, record-keeping, vetting and information-sharing procedures. In brief, when the Act is fully in force it will have the following effects:

  • Anyone who wants to work or volunteer with children or vulnerable adults in a ‘regulated activity’ will need to be registered with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA);
  • It will be an offence for a barred person to seek employment or a volunteering opportunity in a regulated activity;
  • It will be an offence for a person to commence a regulated activity without being registered with the ISA;
  • An employer will commit an offence by hiring a person to work in a regulated activity without first confirming their ISA registration;
  • Employers and personnel suppliers, amongst others, have a legal duty to refer relevant information to the ISA; and
  • Employers will be able to check a person’s registration status online and, if they have registered an interest with the ISA, will be kept informed of any changes to that person’s registration status.

It should be noted that the new legislation does not replace the CRB check; it seeks to overlay a new framework for background checks in sectors that deal with particularly vulnerable people. There is, of course, some skepticism that the new scheme is heavy-handed with the affect of casting suspicion over those seeking employment. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see what effect the new legislation has when it is finally implemented.

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