Recent high profile cases, such as the abuse of vulnerable adults at Winterbourne Hospital and the abuse perpetrated at the Little Stars nursery, have highlighted the need for prompt referrals to be made to the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

The ISA can make independent barring decisions in relation to individuals who have harmed (or present a risk of harm to) children or vulnerable adults. A bar by the ISA prevents people from working or volunteering with either of these vulnerable groups.

Employers and regulatory bodies (particularly those in the NHS, care and education sectors) are under a legal duty to refer people to the ISA who they have dismissed or removed from working with vulnerable people because of the harm they have caused or the risk they pose. This applies equally to paid staff and volunteers.

Additionally, where there is significant concern that harm is taking place or could take place, the employer can also refer the person to the ISA.

It is a criminal offence for a barred person to apply to work or work with the vulnerable group from which they are barred, or for an employer to knowingly employ them.

ISA’s Chief Executive, Adrian McAllister said: "it is important that employers understand their referral responsibilities and there is increasing evidence that referrals to the ISA are a key consideration in safeguarding decisions. The events at Winterbourne and Little Stars only serve to highlight the need for employers to further strengthen their safeguarding procedures".