Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Disclosure and Barring Arrangements
The NI Executive has made arrangements for individuals who are unsuitable from working (in a paid or volunteer capacity) with vulnerable groups, including children, to be barred from such work. The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (Northern Ireland) Order 2007, as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, provides the legislative framework for these arrangements, known as ‘Disclosure and Barring Arrangements’.
Work which a person who is barred must not do is known as ‘regulated activity’ and is defined in law in Schedule 2 to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (Northern Ireland) Order 2007 (as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012). The factual notes on regulated activity with children and adults provide helpful information on what types of activities and roles fall within the scope of regulated activity.
The Disclosure and Barring Service
Since December 2012 the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) has been responsible for maintaining the list of individuals barred from engaging in regulated activity with children and the list of individuals barred from engaging in regulated activity with adults across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This role was formerly carried out by the Independent Safeguarding Authority. A regulated activity provider must refer to the DBS anyone who has harmed or poses a risk of harm to a child and who has been removed from working (paid or unpaid) in regulated activity, or would have been removed had they not left. The DBS will consider whether the person is unsuitable from working with vulnerable groups and make a decision as to whether the person should be barred from working in regulated activity with children, or adults, or both. DBS factsheets provide further information including guidance on making referrals to the DBS.
AccessNI provides a criminal record disclosure service in Northern Ireland (in England and Wales, this is provided by the DBS). Organisations seeking to engage an individual to work in regulated activity can obtain an enhanced disclosure with a barred list check from AccessNI. [link to website: http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/accessni
Protection of Freedoms Act 2012
Prior to the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (Northern Ireland) Order 2007 provided the legislative framework for the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS). The VBS was reviewed in 2010 and the recommendations led to key changes including new definitions of regulated activity, the repeal of controlled activity and the repeal of registration and monitoring. The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 amended the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (Northern Ireland) Order 2007 to give effect to these changes and provide a legislative framework for the disclosure and barring arrangements that have now replaced the VBS.