Protection of Vulnerable Groups scheme in Scotland
It was announced by the Scottish Children's Minister on 12th January 2011 that the launch of the PVG scheme has been reset for 28th February 2011. The full announcement is available here
Whilst the ISA Registration Scheme would have covered England and Wales, the Scottish Parliament legislated for a separate scheme for people undertaking Regulated Work in Scotland, called the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme.
The PVG Scheme was originally due to start on 30th November 2010, but this was suspended in November 2010 to ensure that there was reasonable alignment with the ISA Registration Scheme in England & Wales, which was at the time still expected to go ahead. However, before the Coalition Goverment announced the cancellation of the ISA Registration Scheme, Disclosure Scotland announced the new start date for the PVG Scheme would be 28th February 2011.
The PVG Scheme
The scheme will be operated by Disclosure Scotland
Under the scheme it will be illegal for anybody to place an individual in a role undertaking "Regulated Work" with children and/or vulnerable adults if that person is barred from undertaking such work.
This is subtly different to the (now defunct) ISA scheme, in that it is not mandatory for individuals undertaking Regulated Work to be registered with the PVG Scheme, only that barred individuals are not placed in roles undertaking Regulated Work.
However, for most employers the only way that organisations can confirm that an individual is not barred (from undertaking Regulated Work) is to check whether they are registered with the PVG Scheme and have the Scheme notify them if an individual they employ is subsequently barred.
How does the PVG Scheme Work?
Organisations wishing to place somebody in a role undertaking Regulated Work should first establish whether the individual is a PVG Scheme member.
If they are, they should produce their Membership Certificate or a copy of their last PVG Scheme Record, if they have one.
Where the applicant produces their Scheme Record, the organisation can either accept this* or ask the individual to apply for a Scheme Record Update.
Note - the PVG Scheme Record will list any convictions or other relevant vetting information, so organisations need to ensure that the person or people seeing this document are authorised to know such information, i.e. they would be part of any team which makes employment decisions based on such vetting data. In DDC terms, only Recipients should see the PVG Scheme Record in case it shows content.
The PVG Scheme Update document will show the date the last Scheme Record was issued (to be verified with the Record produced by the individual) and whether any information has been added to it since, although it will not give that information. In applying for the PVG Update the organisation will also be registered as having an interest in the individual, so that should they become barred in the future, the organisation will be notified by Disclosure Scotland.
If the PVG Scheme Update shows that information has been added since the last full Scheme Record was issued, the organisation can find out what it is by asking the individual to apply for a new Scheme Record, which will include this.
Scheme Record Updates will also likely be used where organisations are requesting periodic re-checks.
If the applicant applied directly to Disclosure Scotland for PVG Scheme membership (which they can do) they will not have received a Scheme Record, as these are only issued when an employer's details are included on the application form and it has been counter-signed by a Registered Body, such as DDC.
Where an applicant does not have a PVG Scheme Record document, the organisation should ask them to apply for one, a copy of which will be issued to the Registered Body who, if they are acting as an umbrella body, will forward any content to the employer (as with Disclosures today). Again, the inclusion of an employer or regulator's details on the form will register their interest in the individual and they will receive notice of any future barring decision.
Where the individual is not a member of the PVG Scheme, the organisation should ask them to join giving the organisation as the employer on the application form. The applicaton will need to counter-signed by a Registered Body who will receive the PVG Scheme Record and, if they are acting as an umbrella body, forward any content to the employer. The employer's interest in the applicant will also be registered by Disclosure Scotland.
* The legal requirement is not to place a "barred" individual in a role undertaking Regulated Work. Unless they were convicted of an offence which resulted in automatic barring, it is unlikely that somebody would become barred immediately. There would normally be a period when the subject was "considered for barring" and this would be on their Scheme Record. If the PVG Scheme Record is very recent and shows that the member is not barred, it is reasonably safe to assume that they have not been barred since it was issued. However, should they become barred, only organisations that have registered an interest by applying for an update to the scheme record would be informed. Consequently existing Scheme Records alone , i.e. without a Scheme Update being requested, should only be accepted for short term roles.
SVG Scheme & Disclosures
In Scotland the PVG Scheme replaces Enhanced Disclosures for roles that involve working with children and/or vulnerable adults.
Consequently, from 28th February 2011 Disclosure Scotland will no longer issue Enhanced Disclosures for roles that are eligible for PVG Scheme membership.
Where a role involving access to children and/or vulnerable adults previously warranted an Enhanced Disclosure, but does not meet the criteria for membership of the PVG Scheme, in future it will only be eligible for a Basic Disclosure.
Roles that do not involve working with children, but were eligible for Standard or Enhanced Disclosures will continue to do so.
In order not to swamp Disclosure Scotland with applications for membership they have announced that they will only accept applications from people who are taking a new role or moving to a new employer to undertake "regulated work" unitil 28th February 2012.
This means that organisations who currently have a policy of requesting periodic re-checks for Disclosures for existing staff will not be able to carry out that policy between 28th February 2011 and 28th February 2012. Existing staff who would have been asked to apply for a new Disclosure during that period will have to wait until after 28th February 2012, at which point they can join the PVG scheme.
Joining the PVG Scheme
Eligible individuals can either join the scheme at the request of a 3rd party organisation who is offering a role which includes regulated work; or solely at their own request.
Where the details of a 3rd party employer is included on the application form, the application will need to be counter-signed by a Registered Body who will receive the PVG Scheme Record Disclosure and a copy of this will be provided to the applicant. If the Registered Body is acting as an Umbrella Body and the record shows any content, this will be relayed to the employer, as with Disclosures.
Where an individual joins at their own request they will only receive a Scheme Membership Satement. A PVG Scheme Record Disclosure will not be issued (even though the cost is the same). The Scheme Membership Statement will not show details of conviction or non-conviction information, nor whether any exists.
To join the PVG scheme, with or without a PVG Scheme Record Disclosure being issued, Disclosure Scotland will charge £59 (no VAT)
To issue a Scheme Record Update for an existing scheme member Disclosure Scotland will charge £18.
To issue a PVG Scheme Record Disclosure for an existing scheme member Disclosure Scotland will charge £59 . If the application is made within 30 days of an organisation receiving a Scheme Record Update indicating that new vetting information is available, the fee is reduced to £41.
These figures do not include any administration charge made by an umbrella body.
As now, Disclosure Scotland will not charge for volunteers provided that they apply through the Central Registered Body. At present it is unclear whether somebody who joins the PVG scheme as a volunteer will be charged retrospectively if they use their registration for a paid role (as they would under the ISA scheme)
The PVG Scheme has different eligibility criteria to those used for Enhanced Disclosures, with the aim of significantly reducing the number of people who need to join the Scheme. The legislation that defines Regulated Work with children is available here
Disclosure Scotland have developed an online tool which will tell whether a role might be regarded as regulated work.
Where a role is not considered Regulated Work, even though you currently ask applicants to obtain an Enhanced Disclosure, you can still request a Basic Disclosure.