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Scotland's PVG system raises safeguarding concerns says charity

This news post is 11 months old

Sex offender slipped through Disclosure checks

National mental health charity Change Mental Health has warned Scotland’s disclosure system is flawed.

In an open letter to the Scottish Government, the charity details how children and young people’s mental health charity, Place2Be, carried out an advised procedure yet unintentionally employed an individual who had been recently convicted of two serious sexual offences.

Disclosure Scotland and Police Scotland had failed to notify Place2Be about the charges against the individual, with Disclosure Scotland stating they can only share information that has been provided by Police Scotland.

Change Mental Health believe not disclosing this information can potentially put vulnerable people at risk of harm.

Sent from Change Mental Health’s CEO, Nick Ward, he mentions concerns that “Disclosure Scotland will be ending the ability for organisations to proactively ask for a PVG refresh”, meaning that charities will need to alter their safeguarding policy accordingly to be less robust and secure. Ward states that, in this case, “a PVG is only useful as a protective mechanism at the start of employment and not during”.

Ward further states: “We have had numerous occasions where we have followed the clear guidelines as laid out on the Scottish Government’s website around types of work covered by PVG and are regularly delayed or applications rejected, despite being regulated roles or roles within a position of trust within the organisation.

"In addition to having serious safeguarding concerns this delaying process is also contributing to a wider recruitment and retention issue which is sector wide. Again, highlighting the concerns we have around the whole process.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police Scotland has confidence in the PVG scheme, and our application of the necessary tests regarding relevancy, accuracy, necessity, currency, proportionality, and the impact on the human rights of applicants, PVG scheme members and others.

“We have engaged with relevant organisations to address concerns with regards to this case.

“As a result, we are undertaking a wider review of the current thresholds for disclosure of non-conviction information, working alongside Disclosure Scotland.

“This review will consider any learning from this case, and to ensure our collective and whole system approach to disclosure of such information maintains public confidence and also reflects the most up to date case law in relation to such matters.”

Disclosure Scotland said: “The decision about whether to provide Disclosure Scotland with relevant non-conviction information is for Police Scotland and that decision determines what Disclosure Scotland can include on a certificate. We are working with Police Scotland to consider how this process can be strengthened.”



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11 months ago

In this case, I do not think Disclosure Scotland can do any more. There has to be a balance and I think it would be wrong to disclose non-conviction information as there is a presumption of innocence before guilt in this country. The individual, in this case, was later found guilty and quite rightly dismissed, however, this will not be the case for everyone, what if someone is charged and Disclosure Scotland releases this information and then say they did not get the job on the basis of that information and then they are found not guilty. That would seem unfair and put people's lives in complete limbo until the case came to court not being able to apply for work, even though they may be innocent of all charges. We have to protect the vulnerable, but at what cost to the presumption of innocence? It would be quite appropriate however for employers to have a self-disclosure in any recruitment process where individuals declare any pending charges. Perhaps this is the balance, with any potential applicant expected to inform their new employer of pending charges, which relies on being honest, which I hope we should all be.

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