ISA Decision Making (IDM) update
The Parliamentary process to introduce ISA Decision Making (IDM) via secondary legislation has been progressing and the date for the start of this transition to the new Vetting and Barring Scheme has now been fixed.
For background, as part of the transition to the new Vetting and Barring Scheme, the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) is due to take over decisions on new referrals to the existing barred lists (List 99, POCA, POVA in England and Wales) from the Secretaries of State at the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and the Department of Health (DH).
Since 31 March 2008, the ISA has advised the Ministers on barring, but when IDM comes in employers in England and Wales (under PoCA or PoVA), and employers in England (under List 99) must send new referrals under these schemes to the ISA, which will take the barring decisions. There will be local variations on these arrangements for List 99 in Wales and Northern Ireland. Where the ISA asks organisations for information on a case, they must provide it.
Other key features of IDM worth noting are:
- New referrals must be made to the ISA and not the DCSF or DH;
- New referrals will no longer be considered for provisional listing on POCA or POVA, making it even more important for employers to follow best recruitment practice by taking up references and looking into career history, to ensure they fully understand why job applicants left any previous employment;
- In the education sector, misconduct referrals on teachers in most cases (although not child protection related) must go to the General Teaching Council and no longer the DCSF;
- The appropriate wording on CRB certificates will change to reflect POCA/POVA and List 99 decisions will now be taken by the ISA.
In the wake of Parliamentary debates on Wednesday 17 December and sooner than expected, the House of Commons approved the draft Prescribed Criteria &c Regulations, following the Commons debate the previous day. This clears the way for the start of IDM on 20 January 2009. There is an Order which the Scottish Executive will make, to come into force at the IDM start-date, to recognise ISA English and Welsh bars in Scotland from that date.
ISA Decision Making Process (IDMP)
There are plans to spell out exactly how the ISA will make decisions when it deals with cases in 2009. A specific structure to the way case workers and the board of independent experts will approach referrals from the Criminal Records Bureau and information from a variety of other sources has been signed off by the ISA Board.
In keeping with their status as a Non Departmental Public Body (NDPB), independent of government, the ISA Board has been keen to ensure there is a robust method for cases to be worked through which puts safeguarding to the fore. The Board want details of this process to be put into the public domain so that their work can be seen to be accountable and at the same time reassure the public that the decision making process will be thorough and that unfounded allegations will wither under scrutiny and that the decisions on who to grant ISA registration and who should be put on barred lists are well thought through and justifiable.
Details will be published on the ISA website http://www.isa-gov.org/ as soon as they are cleared.