What legal issues do those working with children and vulnerable adults need to be aware of?

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 was first introduced following the failures of the previous system which were identified following a high profile case involving the murders of two young school girls.

One of the key requirements brought about by the act was the requirement for those wishing to work with children or vulnerable adults having to be registered.

Vetting and Barring Scheme

With the implementation of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act into the laws of England and Wales came the introduction of a new vetting and barring scheme. This new vetting and barring scheme has the purpose of bring together all relevant information into one place while still operating under the guise of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). This means that the previous list for teachers (List 99) and the Protection of Children Act were brought together into a single children’s barred list. Furthermore this has also created a new adults barred list which will list those individuals that are barred from working with vulnerable adults replacing the previous Protection of Vulnerable Adults list.

Under the 2006 Act the decisions taken in relation to barring individuals will be handled by one body –   the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

Regulated and Controlled Activities

Under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups act work with vulnerable groups is split into two distinct categories which can include both paid and unpaid voluntary work. The two categories are as follows:

  1. Regulated activities

  2. Controlled activities

Regulated activity

What is meant by a regulated activity under the act?

Under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups act a regulated activity will include the following:

  • Any activity of a specific nature that involves contact with children or vulnerable adults frequently, intensively and / or overnight – an example of this will be teaching, training, care, supervision, treatment and transportation

  • Any activity allowing contact with children or vulnerable adults in a specified place frequently or intensively – this will include activities in schools and care homes

  • Fostering and childcare

  • Any activity that involves people in certain defined positions of responsibility – examples of this can include school, governors and certain trustees

Following the implementation of the act into the laws of England and Wales anyone taking part in a regulated activity must ensure that they are registered with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

Under the 2006 Act the following will be criminal offences:

  • For an individual who is barred to take part in a regulated activity

  • For an employer to take on an individual to work in a regulated activity if they fail to check that person’s status

  • For an employer to allow a barred individual to work in any regulated activity

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For more information on:

  • Controlled Activity
  • What is meant by a controlled activity under the act?
  • If an employer allows a barred individual to take part in a regulated or controlled activity what criminal sanctions are they likely to face?
  • What happens if an employee is found guilty of committing one of the above criminal offences?
  • Is there anything else which I need to be aware of?
  • Referrals