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New knowledge

Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) Phase II


This project followed from an analysis of the first 100 referrals to the POVA List (Stevens & Manthorpe, 2005) and addressed three questions:

  • What factors are associated with decisions to place referred staff (or volunteers) onto the POVA list?
  • What is the process of decision making in regard to whether or not to list people?
  • What are the commonalities and differences between a sample of referrals to the POVA list?

Research team

Martin Stevens, SCWRU
Jill Manthorpe, SCWRU
Shereen Hussein, SCWRU
Stephen Martineau, SCWRU
Joan Rapaport, SCWRU
Jess Harris, SCWRU


Department of Health


The Care Standards Act 2000 established a provision for a List of staff and volunteers working in regulated care settings who would be banned from such activity if they had harmed or placed at risk of harm a vulnerable adult. This List acts as a vetting and barring device to safeguard vulnerable adults.


A multi-method approach was adopted, including a quantitative and qualitative element. This produced a rounded picture of the factors involved in decisions to place people on the POVA list. The following data were re-analysed:

  • Anonymised information held by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) about all referrals, decision making and the appeals process.
  • Referral information on a random sample of 300 referrals including 100 ‘closed’, ‘provisional’ and ‘barred’ cases

Interviews were undertaken with 19 DfES staff involved with processing the referrals. Focus groups were undertaken with older service users and carers, including people from a range of minority ethnic communities. Focus groups were also held with managers and staff working with vulnerable adults. Interviews with the DH staff making the final decision about whether to recommend that staff should be placed on the POVA list were undertaken.


April 2006 – April 2008

See also

Vetting and barring care workers: potential and practice



Stevens, M., Hussein, S., Martineau, S., Harris, J., Rapaport, J. & Manthorpe, J., (2008), 'The Protection of Vulnerable Adults List: an investigation of referral patterns and approaches to decision-making. Final report to the Department of Health', London: Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London.

Summary report (17pp)


Hussein, S., (2010), 'Using governmental data records for research: a case study of understanding characteristics and reasons for social care workers' referrals to the POVA List in England and Wales', Radical Statistics (100): 11-16.

Stevens, M., Manthorpe, J., Martineau, S., Hussein, S., Rapaport, J. & Harris, J., (2010), 'Making decisions about who should be barred from working with adults in vulnerable situations: the need for social work understanding', British Journal of Social Work, 40(1): 290-310.

Hussein, S., Manthorpe, J., Stevens, M., Rapaport, J., Harris, J. & Martineau, S., (2009), 'Articulating the improvement of care standards: the operation of a barring and vetting scheme in social care', Journal of Social Policy, 38(2): 259-275.

Hussein, S., Martineau, S., Stevens, M., Manthorpe, J., Rapaport, J. & Harris, J., (2009), 'Accusations of misconduct among staff working with vulnerable adults in England and Wales: their claims of mitigation to the barring authority', Journal of Social Welfare & Family Law, 31(1): 17-32.

Hussein, S., Stevens, M., Manthorpe, J., Rapaport, J., Martineau, S. & Harris, J., (2009), 'Banned from working in social care: a secondary analysis of staff characteristics and reasons for their referrals to the POVA list in England and Wales', Health & Social Care in the Community., 17(5): 423-433.

Rapaport, J., Stevens, M., Manthorpe, J., Hussein, S., Harris, J. & Martineau, S., (2008), 'Weighing the evidence: a case for using vignettes to elicit public and practitioner views of the workings of the POVA vetting and barring scheme', Journal of Adult Protection, 10(2): 6-17.

Stevens, M. & Manthorpe, J. (2007) 'Barring "inappropriate people"? The operation of a barring list of social care workers: an analysis of the first referrals to the Protection of Vulnerable Adults list', Health & Social Care in the Community, 15(4): 285-294.

Manthorpe, J. & Stevens, M., (2006), 'Decision and debate: addressing the implications of the POVA banning list', Journal of Adult Protection, 8(2): 3-14.


Manthorpe, J., (2010), 'Lessons from POVA', Department of Health, London, 15 January.

Hussein, S., (2009), 'Using governmental data records to understand characteristics and reasons for social care workers' referrals to the POVA List in England and Wales', Radical Statistics Conference, Oxford Institute of Ageing, University of Oxford, Oxford, 7 March.

Manthorpe, J., Stevens, M. & Hussein, S., (2008), 'POVA: a policy experiment on workforce regulation', University of Kent, Canterbury, 3 December.

Manthorpe, J., (2008), 'The POVA List: protection for older people', British Society of Gerontology, Bristol, 4 September.

Manthorpe, J., Stevens, M., Hussein, S., Harris, J. & Martineau, S., (2008), 'The work of the POVA List', Care Homes Congress, Birmingham, 6 March.

Manthorpe, J., (2008), 'Protecting vulnerable groups: the role of POVA', POVA Advisory Group Meeting, Department of Health, London, 8 February.

Manthorpe, J., (2007), 'Protecting people with dementia: the role of the POVA List', Dementia Care Congress, Harrogate, 6 November.

Stevens, M., Manthorpe, J., Hussein, S., Harris, J., Rapaport, J. & Martineau, S., (2007), 'Safeguarding people with dementia? The role of the POVA list', UK Dementia Conference, Harrogate, 5-7 November.

Manthorpe, J., Stevens, M., Hussein, S., Martineau, S., Rapaport, J. & Harris, J., (2007), 'Placement on the POVA (Protection of Vulnerable Adults) List. And what does the new Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2008 mean for the NHS?', Researching Complex Interventions in Healthcare, Health Services Network, King's College London, 31 October.

Stevens, M. & Manthorpe, J., (2006), 'POVA List decisions: investigating assessments of unsuitability', Social Care Showcase, Department of Health, London, 10 November.

Stevens, M., (2006), 'POVA - Phase two: investigating assessments of unsuitability', POVA Advisory Group, London, 28 June.

Related work

Manthorpe, J., (2008), 'No secrets, no lies', Health Matters, 1(73): 12-13.

Manthorpe, J., (2008), 'The safeguarders', Professional Social Work, August: 12-13.

Pinkney, L., Penhale, B., Manthorpe, J., Perkins, N., Reid, D. & Hussein, S., (2008), 'Voices from the frontline: social work practitioners' perceptions of multi-agency working in adult protection in England and Wales', Journal of Adult Protection, 10(4): 12-24.

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