Children and Young Persons

Part of Church Representation and Ministers Measure – in the House of Commons at 2:59 pm on 18th June 2019.

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Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women 2:59 pm, 18th June 2019

I beg to move,

That the draft Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (Specified Scottish Authority and Barred Lists) Order 2019, which was laid before this House on 20 May, be approved.

This order relates to the process by which an individual may be barred from working with children or vulnerable adults, and provides for greater recognition of barring decisions taken in other UK jurisdictions.

As Members will know, the Disclosure and Barring Service makes considered decisions regarding whether an individual should be barred from engaging in regulated activity which means close regular work with children, vulnerable adults or both in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The DBS also maintains a list of individuals it has barred from undertaking regulated activity with children or adults. This process is vital to protecting children and vulnerable adults from those who pose the greatest risk of doing them harm. It supports employers in making informed decisions about an individual’s suitability when they recruit for the most sensitive roles. As Members will know, it is an offence for a barred individual to work or to seek to work in regulated activity.

Paragraphs 6(2) and 12(3) of schedule 3 to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 provide that individuals previously considered by a “relevant Scottish authority” for inclusion on “a corresponding list” cannot be included in a barred list in England and Wales on the basis of the same circumstances. The order is being made to specify those terms to give effect to paragraphs 6 and 12. The order specifies that the Scottish Ministers are the “relevant Scottish Authority”, and that the lists maintained by the Scottish Ministers under the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007 are “corresponding lists” to those lists of barred individuals maintained under the 2006 Act.

As Members will know, criminal records disclosure and barring are devolved matters. As such, it is important that the DBS in England and Wales and their Scottish counterparts work together and mutually recognise each other’s decisions. The existing framework provides that an individual who is barred under Scottish legislation is also barred in England and Wales and vice versa. Therefore, an individual who has been barred in one jurisdiction cannot work with vulnerable groups by seeking employment in another jurisdiction. That can only be right.

The order gives practical effect to that recognition, ensuring that effective safeguarding is maintained across the UK. That means that if a person has been considered for barring in one jurisdiction, they cannot subsequently be reconsidered for barring on the same grounds in another jurisdiction. This avoids the possibility of a “double jeopardy” situation for that person, where the DBS might bar an individual who Disclosure Scotland had previously decided not to bar on the basis of the same information. We say that this is a matter of basic fairness. It is already the case under Scottish law that Disclosure Scotland is not required to consider an individual for barring who has already been considered by the DBS. A similar statutory instrument will be made by the Secretary of State under corresponding Northern Ireland legislation to ensure consistency across all three jurisdictions.