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Protecting Vulnerable Groups: Scottish Vetting And Barring Scheme: Consultation Paper

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1. Introduction

1.1. On 12 Jan 2006, the First Minister made known that the Scottish Executive would bring forward legislation in response to the Bichard recommendations in this session of the Scottish Parliament. This legislation will set the framework for a new Vetting and Barring Scheme for people seeking work, whether paid or unpaid, with children or vulnerable adults.

1.2. This legislation is taking forward the principal recommendation made by Sir Michael Bichard following his inquiry into the systemic failures that were highlighted by the tragic deaths of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in Soham in 2003. While the report was primarily directed to England and Wales, the Scottish Ministers made clear that they would learn the lessons and also that we should seek to streamline current systems and ensure there are no cross border loopholes across the UK that could be exploited by those who might do harm to vulnerable people.

1.3. The proposed scheme will build on the existing Disqualified from Working with Children List and the disclosure system operated on behalf of the Scottish Ministers by Disclosure Scotland and incorporate a new Disqualified from Working with Vulnerable Adults List. It will be designed to provide a comprehensive, centralised, integrated and updated system to prevent unsuitable people from gaining access to vulnerable groups through their work and to ensure that those who become unsuitable are not able to remain in the workforce. A check of a person's barred status would be readily accessible (with appropriate safeguards) to organisations, including those in the voluntary sector, working with vulnerable people and to those employing carers and others under private arrangements, including parents.

1.4. The key benefits and features of the new scheme as proposed are:

  • greater consistency of decision-making on unsuitability through the development of a Central Barring Unit to assess information;
  • reduction in administration and bureaucracy as information is continuously updated and information about current status can be provided without the need for a further full enhanced disclosure check whenever an individual moves to a new employer or takes on new voluntary work;
  • continuous updating means that, if an individual who has had a disclosure check becomes unsuitable, their employer can be notified; and
  • controlled access to barred status for personal employers (e.g. parents employing private tutors or carers).

1.5. Legislation is required to provide the building blocks for delivery, to ensure the necessary powers are in place to share relevant information appropriately, to allow access to the barred lists for those with a genuine need to know and to streamline the system for the user. This consultation paper sets out the principles of the proposed scheme and the changes likely to be needed in primary legislation in order to support the new scheme. Much of the detail will be taken forward in secondary legislation or elsewhere and will be the subject of future consultation.

1.6. It is intended that a programme of implementation will begin in Scotland in 2007 with interim improvements to current vetting arrangements commencing during 2006.

1.7. The purpose of this consultation is to:

  • outline the new vetting and barring scheme, its key features and benefits;
  • provide the detail of the proposed legislation which will include:
    • the introduction of a new Bichard-compliant Disqualified from Working with Vulnerable Adults List ( DWVAL);
    • amending the Protection of Children (Scotland) Act 2003 which introduced the Disqualified from Working with Children List ( DWCL) to ensure it is Bichard compliant;
    • amendments required to Part V of the Police Act 1997 and, possibly, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974; and
  • seek your views.

1.8. The consultation closes on 2 May 2006. Details of how to respond are contained in a separate response booklet.