The government review of the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) has ended and the Protection of Freedoms Bill (PoFB) has been given Royal Assent. This means that the Scheme will be scaled back to ‘common-sense’ levels, with the proposed changes coming into effect in December this year.  In the meantime, the regulations introduced in October 2009 will still apply.

One of the key changes will be the merging of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) to form a streamlined new body called the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), which will provide a proportionate barring and criminal record checking service.  The current registration and monitoring requirements of the VBS will be abolished.

From December, a CRB certificate will be issued to job applicants rather than employers, giving them the opportunity of checking it before passing it to a prospective employer.  Employees will also be able to transfer CRB checks between jobs to cut down on cost and bureaucracy.

Another change will be a large reduction in the number of positions requiring checks to only those working most closely and regularly with children and vulnerable adults.

Employees engaged in controlled activity, which covers people such as pharmacy and opticians assistants in retail outlets, will not be required to be checked, which will reduce the number of people needing certificates by around 500,000.

This move has been welcomed by retailers, pharmacists and opticians, who have been lobbying to ensure that non-regulated healthcare personnel be exempt from the scheme.

Rob Darracott, chief executive of Pharmacy Voice, said: “We are pleased with the pragmatic response by the Government to the issues we presented to them. This shows what can be achieved by concerted and constructive dialogue with Government and a joined-up approach across the clinical/retail sector.