Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006

The S.V.G.A provides the legislative framework for the new Independent Safeguarding Authority scheme. The new arrangements will be introduced in phases from Autumn 2008. The Act defines the scope of the scheme and provides that certain activities in relation to vulnerable groups are regulated. The ISA will replace the POVA list. The act enables local authorities in their safeguarding role to refer an individual to the ISA. Currently only employers who are regulated can refer employees to the POVA list.

  • The ISA – Independent Safeguarding Authority – will make decisions about who should be barred from working with vulnerable adults. It introduces an ISA Barred List – it will deal with activities that are classified as ‘regulated or controlled’. Individuals will be barred either automatically – if they are convicted or cautioned for certain offences – or following a decision by the ISA taking into account other offences, cautions any or relevant information. Barring decisions by the ISA will be subject to appeal to the Care Standards Tribunal on points of law or on findings of fact.

A regulated activity is an activity of a specified nature that involves contact with vulnerable adults frequently, intensively and/or overnight. Anyone providing a regulated activity must be registered with the ISA. Domestic employers such as parents will be able to check whether private tutors, nannies, music teachers and care workers are barred.

For an activity to be considered as regulated activity, alongside the satisfaction of criteria relating to the activity and/or establishment where it takes place, it must be carried out by the same person frequently or satisfy the ‘period condition’ ie intensively. Without the frequency test any person engaging in the activities defined as regulated, regardless of how often they carried these out, would be engaged in regulated activity.

The policy position is that frequently should be clarified through guidance as meaning once a month or more often. This would mean that, were the same person to teach children in a class every Saturday, or every fortnight, they would have the opportunity to develop a relationship of trust with their class and, therefore pose a greater risk of harm.

Intensively is defined in the legislation and means an activity which happens at any time on more than two days in a 30 day period, or overnight (the latter meaning that the activity occurs at any time between 2 am and 6 am).

A controlled activity is frequent or intensive support within general health settings, the NHS and further education. It includes individuals working for specified organisations e.g. a local authority who have frequent access to sensitive records about vulnerable adults.

  • Adult Protection Teams in local authorities have a legal obligation to refer relevant information to the ISA.
    • Employers and service providers of regulated and controlled activity have a legal obligation as above.

When must information be referred?

Local authorities (in their social services capacity), professional bodies and supervisory authorities must refer where:

  • An individual who is working closely with vulnerable groups has harmed, or may harm a vulnerable adult or
    • They think that that the ISA may consider it appropriate to bar the individual.

If new information comes to light, leading the ISA to bar an existing member of the scheme from working in regulated activity, all employers with a relevant interest will be notified that this person is no longer a member of the ISA scheme. This means that the employer will be required to remove the person from regulated activity.

The definition of vulnerable adult is provided at annex A. Adults will only be classed as vulnerable under the legislation when they are in one of the settings or receiving one of the services set out in annex A.  The definition of “vulnerable adult” will also include adults who are receiving Supporting People services.

Where vulnerable adults organise their own transport, such as an older person who books a taxi him/herself to travel to a day centre, driving such vehicles should not be classed as regulated activity as this is a private arrangement.


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