The Independent Safeguarding Authority was created under the provisions of the Safeguarding Vulnerable groups Act 2006, with the intention of preventing unsuitable people from working with children and vulnerable adults.
Following the murders of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells by Ian Huntley (a school caretaker) in 2002, the Bichard Inquiry was commissioned. One of the issues this Inquiry looked at was the way employers recruit people to work with children and vulnerable adults. The Inquiry’s recommendations led to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 which recognised the need for a single agency to vet all individuals who want to work or volunteer with vulnerable people. The ISA will operate independently of individual government ministers, including the Secretary of State, who is currently in charge of making discretionary barring decisions. Such decisions will now be taken by a board of public appointees.
As a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) they have certain statutory responsibilities and their effectiveness and efficiency will be closely scrutinised by government and stakeholders. In effect the ISA will create a Vetting and Barring agency. The ISA will assess every person who wants to work or volunteer with children or vulnerable adults. They will do this by working closely with the Criminal Records Bureau.
The CRB will receive applications to the ISA and will gather and monitor information. It will also use the information previously found in:-
the Protection of Vulnerable Adults (PoVA) list;
the Protection of Children Act (PoCA) list;
List 99 (a list of people considered unsuitable for work with children, held by the Department for Children, Schools and Families).
The ISA will then assess this information and decide whether to give the individual concerned ISA registration or put them on one of the ISA Barred Lists.
How will this effect clubs
It will be a criminal offence for a club to employ or allow (in the case of a volunteer) any barred person, or a person who is not registered with the ISA to work for any length of time in any regulated activity. Regulated activity is any activity which involves contact with children or vulnerable adults.
From October 2009, when clubs recruit someone new to work with children or vulnerable adults they must check their ISA status. This will determine whether or not the club can employ them (or take them on as a volunteer), and may affect what activities they can undertake.
The ISA divide work with vulnerable groups into two categories: controlled and regulated activities.
Only an ISA-registered person can undertake regulated activity – it is illegal to employ an unregistered person and can result in imprisonment or a fine of up to £5000. An unregistered person means that a person has either not applied to register or that they are on an ISA Barred List.
For controlled activity it is still mandatory to check the ISA status of an applicant before the employment begins. However it may be possible to employ a barred person provided certain safeguards are in place.
You will also need to ensure that existing employees/volunteers are ISA-registered. First you should ask those who have not been previously checked by the CRB to apply for ISA registration. Next you should ask those who have been CRB checked to apply, beginning with those whose CRB checks are the oldest.
The new regime is onerous and imposes a significant burden on clubs .