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.
22 October 2010
Review of Vetting and Barring Scheme - Terms of Reference Announced
In a Written Ministerial Statement
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
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
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 www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/pressoffice
See copy of letter issued to Northern Ireland stakeholders on 15th June
Keep up to date
Please check the AccessNI website on www.accessni.gov.uk
for the latest information on the disclosure process. Alternatively, you can contact the AccessNI
helpline on 028 90 259100.
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 www.isa-gov.org.uk
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
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
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 www.isa-gov.org.uk
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 www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/svg
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
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 www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/pressoffice
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
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.org
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
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
and the address for referrals is listed below.
Independent Safeguarding Authority
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
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.
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
ISA Decision Making Circular
30 May 2008
Government response to ISA scheme consultation
ISA Registration Go-live Date and Fee
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).
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.