Protecting Vulnerable People: New Vetting and Barring Scheme to come
New arrangements for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults from harm or the risk of harm by employees (paid or unpaid) whose work gives them significant access to these groups are to come into force on 12th October 2009.
The new provisions that the Government intends to bring into force under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (“the 2006 Act”) and Part V of Police Act 1997 will bar persons from “regulated activity” with children or with vulnerable adults if they are included by the new Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), previously called the Independent Barring Board (IBB) in the adults’ or children’s barred list.
A “Regulated Activity” is, broadly, an activity that provide an opportunity for close contact with children or vulnerable adults and activities in key settings such as schools and care homes which provide an opportunity for contact, and key positions of responsibility.
A person who lacks capacity, for example, because he or she is under 18, or following a brain injury or head injury or by virtue of their mental health problems may have need of an independent person to advocate on their behalf on a range of matters including decisions about personal health, well being and financial matters. The independent advocate is known as an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) or an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA).
An IMHA or an IMCA will engage in regulated activity relating to vulnerable adults and children as they will be providing assistance, advice and guidance wholly or mainly for vulnerable adults and children under the 2006 Act. From12th October 2009, before a person can be appointed as an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) or an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) they will require an enhanced criminal record certificate with adult suitability information to assess whether he or she is a person of integrity and good character. Where an IMHA is to be appointed for a person who is under the age of 18, the enhanced criminal record certificate check must include suitability information relating to children. In order to satisfy requirements as to integrity and good character under the Regulations these persons must not be included in the ISA’s barred lists i.e. considered by the ISA to be unsuitable to work with children or vulnerable adults.
Obtaining an enhanced criminal record certificate containing suitability information is also necessary to ensure that the person who appoints an IMCA or an IMHA does not commit an offence under the 2006 Act of knowingly permitting a person to engage in a regulated activity from which he is barred or where they had reason to believe the person was barred. The person who engages in the regulated activity when barred will also commit a criminal offence under the 2006 Act.
The Government has published a Guidance Note: “EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM TO THE MENTAL HEALTH AND MENTAL CAPACITY (ADVOCACY) AMENDMENT REGULATIONS 2009 No. 2376” and Veronica Monks at the Department of Health Tel: 0207 972 4501 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org can answer any queries regarding the new scheme.