NEWS16 July 2009

UK researchers to face new background checks next year


UK— Researchers who carry out interviews with children and vulnerable adults in places such as schools or care homes will be required to submit to new background checks before November 2010, when a new Vetting and Barring Scheme comes into force.


Under rules established by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act of 2006, anyone carrying out an activity allowing frequent or intensive contact with children or vulnerable adults in a specified place must register. ‘Frequent’ is defined as once a month or more, while ‘intensive’ is any activity that takes place on three or more days in a 30-day period.

Social researchers are likely to be most affected by the introduction of the scheme, which is overseen by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). More information is available on the authority’s website.

The ISA was set up following the Bichard Inquiry, which was tasked with investigating the reliability of current background-checking procedures in the wake of the 2002 Soham murders, where ten-year-olds Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells were killed by their school caretaker Ian Huntley. After his conviction, Huntley was revealed to have been accused of having sex with underage girls and of rape several times in the past.