Latest News


1 December 2012

New Disclosure and Barring Service Goes Live

The new Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), a merger of the Independent Safeguarding Authority and the Criminal Records Bureau, has become operational.
The DBS will have responsibility 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, making decisions as to whether a person should be included in one or both barred lists, and reaching decisions as to whether to remove an individual from a barred list. AccessNI will continue to provide disclosure services in Northern Ireland.

10 September 2012

Some of the changes to disclosure and barring arrangements made by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 came into operation today. More information on the changes can be accessed in the ‘Resource’ section.

25 June 2012

A Roadshow on changes to disclosure and barring has been held at the Newforge Country Club for organisations that employ or oversee people who work with vulnerable groups, including children. Representatives of the Home Office, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, the Department for Education, the Independent Safeguarding Authority and AccessNI attended the event to explain the changes and answer questions. The presentation given by DHSSPS, AccessNI and the Home Office are available for download (MS PowerPoint 2.2MB).


11 February 2011

Recommendations on the Review of the Vetting and Barring Scheme Announced

The Deputy Prime Minister, NIck Clegg, has today announced the recommendations from the review of Vetting and Barring Scheme with a detailed report on the findings being published.The proposals and recommendations have been included as part of the measures in the Protections of Freedoms Bill. In Northern Ireland we are broadly supportive of what the report has recommended and, subject to further consideration of the finer policy detail and practical implications, will apply the recommendations of the review to Northern Ireland.
See the report on the Recommendations of the Review of the Vetting and Barring Scheme at to an external website


22 October 2010

Review of Vetting and Barring Scheme - Terms of Reference Announced

In a Written Ministerial StatementLink to an external website the Home Secretary, Theresa May MP has today announced the terms of reference for the review of the Vetting and Barring Scheme, which was halted on 15 June. She said "the review will be thorough and consider afresh the principles and objectives of the scheme and recommend what, if any scheme is now needed". Ms May also indicated that recommendations are expected early in the New Year.
Stakeholders are able to input to the review process by sending comments to the Home Office at by 22 November 2010.

Criminal Record Review

The Home Secretary also announced that, in parallel with the VBS Review, there will be a review of the criminal records regime to be led by Sunita Mason, the independent Government Advisor for Criminality Information Management. This is to be undertaken in two phases and will look at the Criminal Records Bureau in the first phase and report on the broader regime in the second phase.
The Home Secretary can only order a review of the criminal record regime in England and Wales as this is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland. Therefore, at this stage, the first phase of this review will not extend to Northern Ireland. Please check the AccessNI webbsite on to an external website for further updates.

15 June 2010

Voluntary Registration Halted

Voluntary registration which was due to start on 26th July 2010 has been halted pending a review of the Vetting and Barring Scheme. Press Release available from
See copy of letter issued to Northern Ireland stakeholders on 15th June 2010.

Keep up to date

Please check the AccessNI website on to an external website for the latest information on the disclosure process.  Alternatively, you can contact the AccessNI helpline on 028 90 259100.
The latest guidance about the other aspects of the scheme is available from to an external website.
The VBS contact centre can also provide you with guidance if you call them on 0300 123 1111 (this is a lo-call number and will only cost you the same as making a local call).
You may wish to complete your details on the ISA website at to an external website to receive information directly in the future.


12 October 2009

Vetting and Barring Scheme safeguards introduced

From 12th October 2009, certain employers may face fines of up to £5,000 if they fail to report an employee who harms or poses a risk of harm to children or vulnerable adults under the new Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS).
The VBS is being delivered by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), AccessNI and the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). It introduces stricter controls and is at the heart of the Government’s strategy for increasing the protection of vulnerable members of our society.
The Scheme is one of the Government’s key responses to the Bichard Inquiry which followed the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman by Ian Huntley. The events in Soham focused public attention on the way people who work with children are vetted. The resulting inquiry recommended a new scheme that would ensure that everyone working in regulated activity with children or vulnerable adults is checked and registered.
After consultation, the Bichard Inquiry led to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (Northern Ireland) Order 2007 and equivalent legislation in England and Wales which provide for the establishment of the Scheme. Parallel arrangements are being put in place in Scotland in broadly similar timescales.
The Scheme is not simply a robust reaction to the single tragic event in Soham. Already, the ISA receives around 400-500 referrals per month from employers who have concerns that individuals who are or were in their employment could pose a risk to vulnerable groups. The Scheme offers a common sense, proportionate approach to safeguarding and it is what we believe the public would rightly expect.

Changes from 12 October 2009

Stricter controls now replace existing arrangements that determine who is suitable to work with children and vulnerable adults in Northern Ireland, England and Wales:
  • Increased safeguards based on a new system featuring ‘regulated activity’ come into operation to further enhance protection of children and vulnerable adults. It is now a criminal offence for barred individuals to work or apply to work with children or vulnerable adults in a wide range of posts. Employers also face criminal sanctions for knowingly employing a barred individual across a wide range of work.
  • The additional jobs and voluntary positions that are now covered by the barring arrangements include moderators of internet chat rooms wholly or mainly for children, the Northern Ireland Prison Service and a large number of staff in health settings.
  • Barred individuals seeking to undertake work with vulnerable groups may face a prison sentence or fine. Employers in regulated activity who knowingly employ barred individuals may face a prison sentence or a fine.
  • The three former Northern Ireland barred lists (Disqualification from Working with Children List, Disqualification from Working with Vulnerable Adults List and the Unsuitable Persons List) are being replaced by two new barred lists, one for people prevented from working with children and one for those prevented from working with vulnerable adults, administered by the ISA rather than several Government departments. From now on checks of these two lists can be made as part of an AccessNI Enhanced Disclosure check.
  • Any employer taking on anyone in regulated or controlled activity is eligible to ask for an enhanced disclosure for that person. However employers are not required to ask for an Enhanced disclosure if they have no reason to believe that an existing employee is barred. For some employers, such as children’s homes and nursing homes, legislation already exists that requires an AccessNI Enhanced disclosure to be obtained before employment can be offered. These requirements still remain.
  • In certain circumstances, employers, personnel suppliers, (this includes employment agencies, employment businesses and educational institutions, which supply individuals for work, work placements or work experience) social services and professional regulators have a legal duty to refer to the ISA information about individuals who they believe have harmed or may pose a risk of harm to children or vulnerable adults
The VBS has introduced genuine improvements to the safeguarding process together with duties to refer. People who pose a risk to children or vulnerable adults will now be taken out of the workplace.
Supporting materials are available from the ISA website to an external website including: Referral forms and Referral guidance and VBS Guidance which covers the increased safeguards introduced from the 12th October 2009. This material can also be downloaded from the DHSSPS website
New employees and those changing jobs in regulated activity do not need to start applying for ISA-registration until July 2010 and ISA-registration does not become mandatory for these workers until November 2010. All other staff will be phased into the Scheme from 2011. Further information on how to apply for registration will be provided in due course.

Press Release - Improved Safeguarding Arrangments Go Live - 12 October 2009

Minister Michael McGimpsey issued a press release welcoming the next phase of the Vetting and Barring Scheme. The press release is available from the DHSSPS website

29 June 2009

Vetting and Barring Scheme Information Roadshow

A Vetting & Barring Scheme (VBS) Information Roadshow will be held in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast on 29 June 2009. There will be both morning and afternoon sessions. The morning session will run from 10:00am until 1:00pm; the afternoon session from 2:00pm until 5:00pm.
This a joint production between government departments responsible for delivery of the VBS across Northern Ireland, England and Wales; AccessNI, the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).
The event will explain the scope of the scheme and its impact on employers, voluntary organisations, employees and volunteers and provide an opportunity for delegates to have their questions answered. It will also demonstrate how AccessNI, CRB and the ISA will deliver the new scheme as required under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (NI) Order 2007 and the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006.
The events are free to attend and open to all interested parties. However, places are limited and must be booked in advance through the ISA website: http://www.isa-gov.orgLink to an external website
Should you have any questions, please contact the Vetting and Barring Communications Team at: Alternatively, contact the Northern Ireland VBS Implementation Team at:

19 March 2009

Important Dates Announced for the Timing of the Implementation of the New Vetting and Barring Scheme.

The Minster for Health Social Services and Public Safety, Michael McGimpsey, in an announcement on 19th March 2009, confirmed that the new Vetting and Barring Scheme will be implemented in a number of stages.  These stages include:
From 12 October this year, we will bring into force the barring provisions under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (Northern Ireland) Order 2007, significantly extending the range of activities and workplaces from which individuals may be barred to include all regulated activities, as defined by the Order.  Bars will also apply in a much wider range of workplaces and volunteer settings, including the majority of health and social care settings and the Northern Ireland Prison Service, extending safeguarding protection to thousands more vulnerable people.  Barring will be based, as now, on referrals from employers and, in addition, on serious criminal offences.
These elements will make a real and significant contribution to improving safeguarding and will benefit children and vulnerable adults. They will help to meet the Government’s commitment to increasing public protection and the specific recommendations of the Bichard Inquiry Report. Consequently many more individuals than at present who may pose a risk to children or vulnerable adults can be removed from the workplace.
The full ISA registration elements of the Scheme will be fully tested and are expected to be in place by summer 2010, at which stage individual applications for registration can begin.  So as not to disrupt normal recruitment over the traditionally busy summer period, the legal duties for employees to register with the VBS and for employers to check their status will come into force in November 2010.  This schedule gives organisations and employers space to prepare for registering their staff over the five year window which is the proposed time period to phase in the Scheme.
Work is underway to put in place phasing arrangements that will work for employers and voluntary providers in Northern Ireland. Further information regarding the phasing strategy for Northern Ireland will be provided on the website when it becomes available and will also be covered in guidance governing the operation of the VBS.

13 March 2009

Start of ISA Decision Making in Northern Ireland

From 13th March barring decisions for Northern Ireland will be made by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). From this date all new referrals should be forwarded to the ISA. Details of how to do this including referral forms and telephone numbers can be found at to an external website and the address for referrals is listed below.
Independent Safeguarding Authority
PO Box 181
Further information is also available in the DHSSPS guidance document, Choosing to Protect, which has been updated ro reflect the start of ISA decision-making (see item below).
After 13 March 2009, Northern Ireland organisations , which refer to the ISA will be contacted directly by the ISA if it requires additional information in support of a referral made.

Update of Choosing to Protect Guidance

The Department has published an updated version of the Choosing to Protect guidance which reflects the changes that will take place following the start of Independent Safeguarding Authority decision making on 13th March.  

ISA decision making process guidance

The Independent Safeguarding Authority has now published its decision making process guidance.  This is the method used by the ISA’s caseworkers and the ISA Board to decide whether it is appropriate that an individual should be barred from working with children or vulnerable adults.  

ISA Decision Making Circular

Decision making by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) will commence in Northern Ireland from 13th March 2009.  Further information can be found in the Department's circular Decision-making by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) from 13 March 2009 (PDF 104KB) which issued on 6th February 2009.


30 May 2008

Government response to ISA scheme consultation

The government's response to the November 2007 consultation on the ISA scheme proposals was published on 30 May 2008. It can be accessed at: to an external website.

ISA Registration Go-live Date and Fee

For details see the Home Office press release which can be accessed at: to an external website.
Please note that the fee in Northern Ireland will be set at £58.  This will include the cost of ISA registration (set at £28) and the cost of an Enhanced Disclosure Certificate from AccessNI (set at £30).
For further details contact us at

January 2008

Independent Safeguarding Authority Board Members Announced

The Independent Safeguarding Authority's ten board members, who will oversee the delivery of the new vetting and barring process, have now been appointed. Richard Black OBE, former Chief Executive of the North and West Belfast Health and Social Services Trust, will represent Northern Ireland on the Board.
Further information on the members of the ISA Board is available at to an external website.

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