Protection of Freedoms

Memorandum submitted by TMG CRB (PF 66)

TMG CRB is the second largest Umbrella Body in England and Wales, processing in excess of 500,000 CRB applications since 2002 for a wide client base including the Department for Education, Department of Transport, The FA, England and Wales Cricket Board, personnel suppliers and health organisations.

TMG CRB wish to bring the following points to the attention of the Public Bill Committee.

1. Knowledge and understanding Lack of detail and precise definitions is leading to differing interpretation and confusion regarding:

· Supervision

· Regulated Activity

· Management of a mixed workforce of paid and volunteers with the same access to vulnerable groups

· Confusion between the Vetting and Barring Scheme and CRB reviews

To successfully implement change our clients need messages that are clear, consistent and easy to understand. To this end, TMG CRB welcome the proposed amendment to the Bill tightening the definition of supervision and volunteers in schools and other prescribed (specified) settings.

Lack of full knowledge regarding the products and services which will be available in the future limits the constructive feedback we and our clients can provide the committee at this stage.

2. Cost TMG CRB welcomes the intent to keep Disclosures free for volunteers and believes this is critical in safeguarding vulnerable groups. Our clients are concerned that any annual subscription fee would be a deterrent to volunteering. If a fee is to be levied, some organisations would like the option to pay this on behalf of their volunteers.

3. Single Issue Disclosure (I) The majority of our clients would find the issue of a single Disclosure difficult to manage. In most cases the suitability decision is not taken at local level but at a central hub. Central suitability decision-making is used to ensure consistent and informed decision-making by a trained safeguarding team, compliance with the Recruitment of Ex-offenders Act 1974 and protection of the individual in the local community (sensitive information released on a Disclosure may not make a person unsuitable for their position but can cause challenges if known in the local community where the appropriate skills and training are not in place to manage such information in confidence).This is of particular importance in the voluntary sector. TMG CRB would recommend a delay between the issuing of an applicant’s copy and Registered Body copy of the Disclosure to allow for any content dispute. Costs can be minimised by using eBulk or a web-based service for a return of Disclosure results supplemented by the provision of a hard copy of all Disclosures with content.

4. Single Issue Disclosure (II) For non Regulated Activity, when a CRB Disclosure is used to assess suitability for a role involving significant contact with a vulnerable group, a person may be in post pending a suitable CRB Disclosure. In this instance, an individual may have the opportunity to build a relationship with a vulnerable person whilst in denial that they were in receipt of their Disclosure which, if reviewed by the organisation, may have resulted in their removal from post. Providing the Registered Body with a copy of the Disclosure would negate this opportunity.

5. Single Issue Disclosure (III) Fraud A vital part of the Registered Body (RB) administration role is to ensure that a Disclosure has been produced for the correct applicant. This will be even more critical with the introduction of portability. The RB should always carry out a data matching exercise, ensuring the ID check is carried out rigorously and personal details printed on a Disclosure match those on the Disclosure application. We can evidence many cases where a Disclosure has been produced with incorrect personal details including submissions made via eBulk. This includes a case where a date of birth error resulted in a clear Disclosure being produced for an individual who was guilty of murdering a child. Without a copy of the Disclosure, an RB cannot carry out this quality assurance role. The applicant now has a ‘clear Disclosure’ to present to a subsequent employer. Any online update would be based on this erroneous Disclosure.

6. Barred people in non Regulated Activity Whilst TMG understands the human rights issues that allow Barred people to work in a supervised capacity with vulnerable groups we would like to express grave concern. Every week we receive Disclosures with apparent histories of grooming and multiple allegations of harm to children but with insufficient evidence to establish a conviction. These are potentially hazardous individuals to employ but when a Bar has actually been achieved and the risk assessed as significant it seems irresponsible to allow access to vulnerable individuals. The risk is that grooming can take place in a very subtle way and the built relationship maintained informally via social media and other strategies when the formal activity has been completed.

7. Disclosures for non Regulated Activity TMG is unclear at present what kind of Disclosure will be available for those in non Regulated Activity. To make appropriate and informed safeguarding decisions our clients require an Enhanced Disclosure with a check on the relevant Barred List(s) and non-conviction information for individuals who have significant access to and thus opportunity to form a relationship with vulnerable groups. Standard and Basic Disclosures do not provide sufficient information to enable safe decision-making. There is a concern that those who seek opportunities to harm will use such non Regulated Activity positions as a window of opportunity.

Furthermore, particularly in the voluntary sector, the nuances of difference between Regulated and non Regulated Activity due to the nature of supervision and/or frequency of contact may result in pockets of opportunity for exploitation.

Finally, impact on official register keepers. A government client currently using CRB Enhanced Disclosure to assess ‘fit and proper’ status to work with <18 year olds for inclusion on an approved register is seeking the continuance of the provision of information currently provided on an Enhanced Disclosure. Information released, including fraud, is used to remove individuals from the register and provides an evidence base for use at tribunal hearings. As a register keeper they are not the Regulated Activity provider. The register includes a mixed cohort of employed and self employed individuals. We understand self employed individuals will not have the same VBS requirements. Continued access to the Enhanced Disclosure will allow our client to continue providing a transparent and uniform ‘fit and proper’ assessment for both cohorts.

8. Recommendation One in the Common Sense Review to scale back eligibility for CRBs TMG CRB is aware of many organisations currently seeking CRB Disclosures for non-eligible positions. This is often driven by contractual and insurance requirements. TMG CRB welcomes the stance taken to ensure Disclosures are limited to eligible positions to avoid this scope creep. However, for the reasons noted in point 7, our clients have expressed concern that the Enhanced Disclosure may no longer be available for those in non Regulated Activity whose role gives them an opportunity to form a relationship of trust with a vulnerable group.

May 2011