Freedoms Bill – Changes to CRB checks

The Freedoms Bill has had its first reading in parliament. The Bill has a wide range covering issues relating to fingerprinting, DNA, CCTV and even wheel clamping. However, it also proposes a review of the current criminal records and vetting and barring regime, in order to “scale it back to common sense levels”.

The changes that are proposed involve merging the Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) and reducing the number of persons who are required to have checks, so as to cover only those working closely and regularly with children. The current legislation requires anyone undertaking a regulated or controlled activity, which includes persons with access to sensitive information and records regarding children and vulnerable adults, needs to be registered. There is also a proposal that Criminal Record Bureau checks are to be portable from one job to another, with the intention being to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy.

Overall these proposals would appear to be both sensible and reasonable. The government estimates that up to 9 million people working or volunteering with children and vulnerable adults will no longer need to register with the independent safeguarding authority or be subject to monitoring as a result of the changes and the move can only be positive for recruiters as it should reduce costs, delays and administration.

It should however be remembered that just because a requirement for a criminal records check is not a legal requirement and/or the checks may become portable, your client may still require, whether as a contractual requirements, part of a service level agreement or simply an expectation that such checks be carried out again or afresh for each placement, even where there is no strict legal requirement to do so.

The Bill still has a long way to go before becoming law and until it does existing arrangements remain valid.