Volunteers and staff will need criminal records checks only if they work "closely and regularly" with children and vulnerable adults, under plans for a wide-ranging reform of the vetting and barring system announced by the government today.
Under the proposals, part of the new Protection of Freedoms Bill, about 4.5 million people who would have had to register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority under the vetting and barring scheme initiated by the Labour government, would not have to have criminal records checks.
The Labour system, which was never implemented and which the coalition government halted in June, would have involved carrying out the checks on nine million people.
Under the proposed new system, which will be announced today by Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, only about 4.5 million people would be subject to criminal records checks.
The new proposal would also make criminal records checks portable so that individuals would not need separate checks by each organisation they worked or volunteered for.
A Home Office spokesman said: "Far fewer people will come within the scope of regulated activity under the new system. The only people needing checks will be those working most closely and regularly with children and vulnerable adults."
He said the government would also "monitor the scope of criminal records checks" to make sure they were not deterring people from volunteering.
A statement from the Home Office said that, subject to parliamentary approval, the bill was expected to become law by early 2012. It said the new system would be introduced soon after that.