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Investigating the Vetting and Barring Scheme


This project, commissioned by the Department of Health, aims to examine the operation and impact of the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS). 

Research team

Martin Stevens
Jill Manthorpe
Stephen Martineau
Shereen Hussein
Jess Harris 


Department of Health


Vetting and barring of staff and volunteers working with vulnerable adults and children has emerged as an area of controversy and interest in policy, the media, public debate and practice. This research, building on POVA I and II, will provide evidence about the new VBS.

The first phase of the research, now completed, has taken place against a backdrop of significant policy revision. Please see 'Chapter 1: Introduction and Background' of the Interim report (below) for details of this.


The research is in two stages. First is a set of interviews (80) with a wide range of stakeholders: employers, frontline staff, service users, carers, and advisors and regulators involved in advising employers on referrals to the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). Participants are asked to respond to a vignette developed in the previous study, exploring perceptions of thresholds for dismissal and barring; and are asked for their overall views of the POVA List and VBS in terms of the effects on levels of abuse and whether the right people are being barred. The interviews were completed in Spring 2010.

In addition to a second round of interviews undertaken with participants in phase one, phase two of the research will involve interviews with ISA staff who process referrals and make decisions about who to bar. Statistics collected by ISA about referrals and barring decisions will also be reanalysed in phase two, to develop the analysis undertaken in the second POVA List study.


2009 - 2012


Interim report

Stevens, M., Martineau, S., Manthorpe, J. & Harris, J., (2011), 'Vetting and barring care workers: potential and practice. Interim report' [pdf, 1,171 KB], London: Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King's College London. 


It is envisaged that the study will inform development of policy and practice in safeguarding generally and specifically in terms of the development of the vetting and barring scheme in its revised state.

Related work

Phair, L., (2011), 'An audit of disciplinary outcomes and incident reporting and the relationship with the vetting and barring scheme in the NHS' [pdf, 339 KB], London: Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King's College London.

Phair, L. & Manthorpe, J. (2011) 'Health care and adult safeguarding: an audit informing the relationship of the UK vetting and barring scheme with the NHS', Journal of Adult Protection, 13(5): 251-258.

Phair, L., Monks, V. & Manthorpe, J., (2010), 'The Decision Assistance Tool for Keepers of Registers (Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (Northern Ireland) Order 2007: Duty for Keepers of Registers to refer information to the Independent Safeguarding Authority)' [pdf, 287 KB], London: Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King's College London.


15 November 2011 Charlotte Santry 'Hundreds of abusive health workers able to work in NHS, warns regulator', Nursing Times.

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