Community Volunteering criminal record checks to be abolished

Criminal record checks to be abolished for millions of community volunteers

Rules requiring repeated screenings will be scrapped in rule change
Town halls spent £45million last year carrying out criminal records checks

By James Chapman
PUBLISHED: 01:51, 2 June 2012 | UPDATED: 03:34, 2 June 2012

Millions of people who volunteer to help in schools, with sport or at charity events are to be freed from the red tape of criminal record checks.

Ministers are scaling back legislation to exempt more than half of the nine million who have needed to go through Labour’s ‘vetting and barring scheme’ from the need to be officially checked.

Cabinet Office Minister Nick Hurd said that, from next year, rules requiring those who want to volunteer in their communities to undergo repeated screening will be scrapped.

Ministers are planning to scale back legislation to vet those working with children, which is widely seen as having spiraled out of control

People are forced to have checks so they can be monitored while coming into contact with children or vulnerable adults.

But the scheme, introduced in the wake of the inquiry into the murders of Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in 2002, is widely seen to have spiralled out of control.

Town halls spent £45million last year demanding criminal records checks not only on their own staff but also on civic-minded people who gave up their time to help in their communities.

As well as school volunteers, checks are being carried out on tree surgeons, beach cleaners, park rangers and ice cream and burger van operators.

Cabinet Office Minister Nick Hurd said that repeated screenings of volunteers will be scrapped from next year

Even the Duchess of Cambridge had to undergo a check by the Criminal Records Bureau before becoming a volunteer for the Scouts.

The Government says safety should not be compromised, but the scheme is being significantly curtailed so that only those in sensitive posts or who have intensive contact with youngsters or vulnerable adults will need to undergo criminal record checks.

The CRB and the Independent Safeguarding Authority are to be merged to form a streamlined body to provide a ‘proportionate’ system of checks.
Mr Hurd said the Government planned further steps to ensure barriers are not put in the way of people who want to volunteer.

‘People and charities have often told me of their frustration that they have to go through a costly and time-consuming process to get a CRB check often when they already have a certificate,’ he said.

‘We’ve listened and changed the legislation so that people only need to get checked once or when absolutely necessary, which will mean that more people can get involved in their local communities without the burden of unnecessary red tape.’

Even the Duchess of Cambridge had to undergo a CRB check before volunteering with the scouts

The Government is issuing new guidance to make it clear that volunteering should not usually be considered a risky activity requiring criminal record checks.

From next year, the Protection of Freedoms Act will improve the ‘portability’ of CRB certificates so that people can volunteer using the same certificate they have used for employment or other volunteering, he added.

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