Both the volunteering charity and the Manifesto Club, a pressure group of journalists and academics, warned that the new system might scare off volunteers.
But Volunteering England welcomed the system, saying it would reduce unnecessary duplicate checks - volunteers will need only a single check, regardless of how many organisations they work with.
The system, which will be run by the new Independent Safeguarding Authority, was introduced by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006. All volunteers and paid employees will have to undergo checks from next year. The authority will consider 'soft information', such as concerns that led to no charges being brought, as well as convictions.
Decisions on whether people can work with children will rest with the new authority and will not be at an organisation's discretion, as at present. Dame Elisabeth Hoodless, executive director of CSV, said: "Criminal Records Bureau checks are already reducing people's willingness to volunteer. It should not be for an agency acting on 'soft' information to exclude them."
But Sheila Hawkins, head of volunteering, health and social care at Volunteering England, said: "The system will mean a more consistent approach and may reduce inappropriate checks."