The British Horse Society (BHS) has told equestrian employers not to worry about a new government “vetting “scheme.

The Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) will be introduced in phases, starting in July next year, as a register of people working with children and vulnerable groups.

Ellie Layton of the BHS said: “Everyone who works with children and vulnerable groups will have to comply, but we’re advising people not to panic yet.

“We’ll let people know the details over the next two or three months.”

The new scheme was initiated following the Soham murders in 2002 and is being run by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) in conjunction with the existing Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks, which enable employers to check criminal records of potential employees at a cost of £36.

The VBS is intended to be further reaching than the CRB, and include information “beyond that held by police”.

The ISA said responsibility will rest with employees to register themselves, though many employers will foot the bill. Volunteers must also register, but at no cost. The VBS will be administered with the CRB, and the combined cost will be £64.

Teresa Patrick, owner of Cloud Stables in Reading, Berks, said: “Riding schools don’t make much money anyway. The checks sound quite expensive and may have an impact on how much work we do with disabled riders.”

Janet Baker, owner of Bold Heath Equestrian Centre, near Widnes, Cheshire, said: “I think it’ll have an impact — enough riding schools are closing down anyway.”

Voluntary registration starts in July with mandatory registration for all new employees and volunteers from November.

All employees and volunteers working with the target groups must be registered by a date that will be set in 2015.

This news story was first published in H&H (24 September, ’09)