General articles

Child Protection – Scotland

Introduction

Brief mention has been previously made of the provision for child protection measures in Scotland which were incorporated in the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007 referred to as the PVG Scheme. The Act is seen as being complementary to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and, notwithstanding that the English legislation is under review, the Scottish Executive will go live with the PVG Scheme with effect from 30th November 2010. Whilst the number of ringers who will be affected is small, the following note seeks to give an overview of the operation of the scheme.

PVG Scheme Membership

Unlike the English Act which requires ISA registration for regulated work, the PVG scheme is “passive” in that scheme membership is not mandatory. However, since it is both an offence for an individual who is barred from regulated work to seek or undertake to do such duties and for an organisation to employ such a person once notified of the barring, scheme membership effectively becomes a prerequisite.

Definitions of regulated work includes teaching, training, care, supervision and unsupervised contact most of which apply in an institutional situation. In terms of bellringing face to face teaching is the key criteria whilst, under the Scottish model, frequency is not a factor.

Applications for membership

Persons who are about to take up regulated work will be asked to join the PVG Scheme and the documentary process will be very similar to that required for the ISA. Applicants will need to show proof of identity and the application will need to be countersigned by a Registered Body – this may be the church or an umbrella organisation. In as much as the Scottish Association of Change Ringers is a single entity but ringers activities are spread over more than one denomination it should be possible for membership to be dealt with by the Central Registered Body Scotland (CRBS). This should then be satisfactory for all ringing requirements.

During the first 12 month, membership processing will be restricted to “new” workers, existing workers will be invited to join the Scheme either as part of re-checking (previously CRB) or as part of a programme agreed by Disclosure Scotland. Existing workers do not need to do anything immediately.

As volunteers, ringers will not be required to pay any fee for membership. Once membership is granted following a check on records and no evidence instigating or revealing barring, individuals will be issued with a unique PVG Scheme Membership number together with a Scheme Record, the equivalent of a CRB Certificate. Copies of the Scheme Record will be issued to the applicant, the registered body which processed the application and the organisation employing the individual.

Updating records

The PVG Scheme provides for updating of records in the same way as the English equivalent. An organisation using for the first time a person who is already a PVG member may, through a registered body or umbrella body, request a Scheme Record Update. If this shows no “new vetting information” then the individual’s membership for the regulated work remains valid.

It is the intention that Scheme Record Updates will be available on-line from April, 2011 and this may present the simplest form of check for many organisations.

Legal constraints

1. As has already been mentioned a person who is on the PVG “barred” list cannot apply for or be employed on regulated work.
2. A person who by behaviour or incident is considered a risk must be taken off regulated work and the matter referred to Disclosure Scotland.
3. It is an offence to ask an individual to join the PVG or to make a disclosure application in relation to work which is not regulated.
4. A full Scheme Record can only be obtained by an organisation with the individual’s consent.
5. Information disclosed on an individual may not be divulged except for limited need within an organisation.
6. Membership of the Scottish PVG Scheme and registration with the ISA under the English scheme are not interchangeable and those moving across the border will need membership of both. Information on offences and “barring” will, however, be exchanged reciprocally.
7. Those moving from one type of regulated work to another (e.g. scouting to ringing) should expect to be asked for a Scheme Record Update despite the fact that they are already a PVG Scheme member.

Conclusion

The Scottish PVG Scheme is very similar to that envisaged in England and the processes are not difficult. In the long term on-line checking should make life easier for all concerned. Any questions should be referred via the Central Council Tower Stewardship Committee.

Chris Mew for CCCBR
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25th October 2010

12 November 2010 - Update

A week is a long time in politics! With the publicised launch of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups scheme due to take place on 30th November, the Scottish Executive have announced that the go live date has been postponed. The postponement is to allow a review of the scheme which is not expected to be available until February 2011.  This decision brings into line the review of both Englsih and Scottish version of legislation affecting the protection of children and vulnerable adults.

Chris Mew
for Tower Stewardship Committe, CCCBR

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CC
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers