The vetting and barring scheme known as the POVA (Protection of Vulnerable Adults) List established in England and Wales by the Care Standards Act (2000) was intended to provide greater assurance about the quality of social care for adults. This article reports on part of a larger research study investigating the Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) List. It focuses on different kinds of mitigation used by staff to counter allegations of harming vulnerable adults and how these differ in relation to various types of abuse as well as other factors. The results are based on quantitative analyses of a detailed sample of 298 referral records of the POVA List and qualitative interviews with civil servants administering the POVA scheme. Details of the mitigation claimed by 135 workers are examined and these elements are described in relation to mitigation for the person and mitigation of the misconduct. Messages from the analysis are discussed in relation to the workforce, employers and adult safeguarding systems.