Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme
The Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme (PVG Scheme) replaced the Enhanced Disclosure Service for people who work with children and protected adults.
Only people who do regulated work with children and protected adults need to join the PVG Scheme. It does not apply to parents helping their children or to personal arrangements that parents may make with friends and family to look after their children.
Instead of providing a point-in-time snapshot of a person's criminal history (which is what the enhanced disclosure service delivered), the PVG Scheme continuously updates people's membership records when any new vetting information becomes known. Vetting information is conviction information retrieved from criminal justice systems and any other information held by the police, which they consider is relevant. This means that any new information, which indicates that a person may have become a risk, will be quickly identified, enabling action to be taken by Disclosure Scotland and by the individual's employers.
As well as strengthening protection for children and protected adults, the PVG Scheme is quick and easy for staff and volunteers to use and reduces the need for people to complete a lengthy application form each time a disclosure check is needed, which was a frustration with the previous system.
The PVG Scheme service is free for volunteers working in the qualifying voluntary sector. Volunteer Scotland provides free disclosure checks, guidance, advice and support to voluntary sector organisations.
Applications to join the PVG Scheme are no longer accepted by email but you can apply using the online service. Enquiries regarding the PVG Scheme can be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0870 609 6006. Should you wish to keep up-to-date with what is happening at Disclosure Scotland, you can sign up to receive their e-bulletin here.
Questions and answers
Do parents coming into school have to be a member of the PVG Scheme?
Most definitely not. The PVG Scheme applies to people who are doing regulated work with children (and protected adults). So a parent must be doing regulated work with children before any of the PVG legislation could have a bearing. Parents attending parents' evenings or visiting the school for any reason to do with their own child are not doing work so would fall outside the scope of the PVG Scheme.
Do Parent Council members have to join the PVG Scheme?
Parents who are in school and caring, teaching, instructing, training, supervising or in sole charge of children will rightly be within the scope of the PVG Scheme. Other parents who, for example, attend a Parent Council meeting, should only be asked to become members if any of this work gave them the opportunity to have unsupervised contact with children. The Scottish Government believes that it should be possible in most cases to make arrangements for Parent Council members to avoid unsupervised contact with children and in doing this, PVG Scheme membership would not be required.
What about parents helping out on school trips – do they need to be checked?
Whether parents who chaperone on school trips should be required to be PVG Scheme members will depend on the circumstances of the trip, such as whether the activities occur regularly and the responsibilities of the chaperones. This is explained in the PVG Scheme Guidance. A balance has to be struck between avoiding unnecessary checking and protecting children from harm.
Do parents wishing to hire the school hall outside of school hours or who get involved in raising funds for school equipment have to be scheme members?
No. If there isn’t any unsupervised contact with children those parents should not become PVG Scheme members.
What is the Scottish Government doing to prevent unnecessary checking taking place?
The PVG Act and guidance set out in some detail the purposes for which PVG Scheme disclosures can be used. To use them for other purposes is unlawful. Disclosure Scotland has a compliance team which works with its registered bodies to ensure that they request and handle disclosures appropriately. They monitor disclosure applications and will take action where it becomes clear that organisations, including local authorities, are making unlawful requests. Individuals who are concerned that they may be being asked for a disclosure inappropriately should report the matter to Disclosure Scotland for further investigation.
Disclosure (Scotland) Act 2020
The Disclosure (Scotland) Act 2020 received Royal Assent on 14 July 2020. The new laws aim to make the disclosure process in Scotland simpler and easier to understand. Find more information here about how the Disclosure system will change.
Guidance materials about the PVG Scheme is available on the MyGov.scot website.
Connect (formerly SPTC) has published a range of child safety and protection leaflets for Parent Councils.
PVG Scheme - Types of Disclosure
Parents and parent council members can find more information about what type of organisations should apply for PVG Scheme membership.