Ed Balls to clarify vetting rules

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Children's secretary, Ed Balls, is to clarify the government's position over the controversial scheme to vet adults who work with children.

This will include clarification on the circumstances in which a criminal record check will be needed by parents and adults who are regularly in contact with children. It is anticipated that the new Independent Safeguard Authority will be told to "get the balance right" in ensuring that parents who get involved in informal arrangements in ferrying children to activities are not covered by the scheme.

He will also stress that those involved will only have to register once. There will be a £64 fee for those in paid employment but the checks are free for volunteers.

According to theRecruitment and Employment Confederation there are, in any given week, 132,000 workers supplied into the education sector and 108,000 staff working with vulnerable adults in the medical and care sector.

Anne Fairweather, head of public policy at the REC, said: “The vetting and barring scheme, once fully operational, will bring significant benefits for the recruitment of staff to work with children and vulnerable adults.  However, we have serious concerns about the way the scheme is being introduced.  We are less than a month away and it is still not clear what information recruitment agencies should refer to the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) and when this should take place.

"Unless there is clear direction on these matters there is a danger that the ISA will be overwhelmed with information.

“It is in everyone's interest to ensure that all understand their obligations under the scheme when it is introduced. The recruitment sector will be on the front line, trying to make this scheme work day in, day out and clear guidelines are needed.”

The new vetting and barring scheme, which follows the Bichard inquiry into the Soham murders, comes into force from 12 October. The scheme is run by the Home Office in partnership with the Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority.