Considerations related to listing by Disclosure Scotland: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

  1. The number of cases currently being considered for listing.
  2. The current average time from receiving a referral to a decision being made regarding listing by Disclosure Scotland. Please clarify if this average is mean or median.
  3. For each of the last 10 years, the maximum length of time for a decision regarding listing to be made.
  4. If you have a service standard for this measure, your organisation’s performance against this measure each year for the last 10 years. If you do not have a standard, then please supply the performance against a 6 month or 1 year time period if this data is available.


Three of your questions relate to the time it takes us to decide whether an individual should be included in the lists of people who are barred from working with children and/or protected adults under the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007 (“PVG Act”). I would like to begin by explaining the consideration for listing process which will provide context on the answers to your questions.

Under the PVG Act we must consider listing an individual in the children’s list and/or adults’ list if we are satisfied that information referred to us indicates that it may be appropriate for that individual to be included in the children’s list/adults’ list and that individual does, has done, or is likely to do regulated work with children and/or protected adults. The information which could lead us to consider listing could include vetting information i.e. convictions or cautions which are disclosed on a PVG Scheme Record; relevant information provided by the police; a referral from a court following conviction of an offence; or a referral from an organisation or regulatory body where certain criteria prescribed in the PVG Act are met. The PVG Act does not contain any timescales within which we must make a decision about whether to list an individual in the children’s or adult’s list.

We aim to make decisions as early as possible. A range of factors can impact on how quickly we are able to do so. Some referral types are straightforward and require us to gather minimal information. However, others are more complex and can require extensive investigations and information gathering before we are able to make a decision.

For example, where the information indicates that an individual has been reported to the Procurator Fiscal, or the case is the subject of ongoing criminal proceedings, then we may decide to await the Procurator Fiscal’s decision, or the outcome of any such proceedings. Similarly, if the conduct we are considering is the subject of professional regulatory body proceedings then we may await the outcome so that we can take any relevant findings in to account. In some cases it can take several months, or indeed years, for such proceedings to reach a conclusion. In these circumstances we will keep under review the necessity and proportionality of continuing to consider listing an individual.

During the consideration for listing process our investigations often require us to request information from other organisations and we are sometimes constrained by how long it takes them to provide us with information. Although we have powers to request information from others, there is no prescribed timescale for it to be given to us. In addition, in some cases we may need to make several requests to the same organisation to obtain the information that we need to make a decision.

We are also required to provide individuals with an opportunity to provide representations as to why they should not be listed and to share with them copies of all the information we gather upon which we may base our decision. In some cases this can be a lengthy process where we gather a large amount of information.

An individual is not barred from doing regulated work whilst they are under consideration for listing.

I hope this information is helpful context to the following answers to your questions.

1. The total number of individuals under formal consideration for listing as at 16/03/2023 is 3,622.

2. Using the decisions made in January 2023, the average length of time taken to make a barring decision was 10.30 months (mean) and 7.5 months (median).

3. We have calculated that locating, retrieving and providing data for all decisions in the last ten years would exceed the upper cost limit of £600. This is because we would be required to manually review each record to compile the data.

However, having carefully considered your request, we are able to provide the following data which brings our costs under the limit, as it’s retrievable from our current system. This data includes only cases from the last 8 years when our system was introduced, and includes only cases where our final decision was to list the person, and does not include decisions that resulted in the person not being listed.

The figures contained are the cases that took the longest time to complete. These cases are exceptional and not representative of the average time taken to make a decision, as is demonstrated in the answer to question 2. Factors such as ongoing legal proceedings contributed to the time it took for us to complete these cases.


Maximum length of time to decision within the year (in months)



















4. We actively monitor the progress of all cases and strive to completed every case in the optimal time. For that purpose we have various internal benchmarks and targets we aspire to meet. We do not publish Key Performance Indicators for our barring functions however this is currently under consideration.

Internally we monitor the percentage of cases we complete between 0-4 months and 4-6 months.

Table 2 contains information on the percentage of all types of cases completed since we introduced this benchmark in June 2014 until February 2023.

This indicates the timescales for all types of referrals received. As such, it does not reflect the complexities of particular types of referral which often take longer to investigate because of the nature of the investigations we require to make and the types of evidence we have to obtain. We are currently reviewing how our targets better reflect the different types of cases we deal with.

  Percentage of cases completed within 4 months (target 50%) Percentage of cases completed within 6 months (target 90%)
2014/15 42 65
2015/16 42 67
2016/17 45 67
2017/18 40 64
2018/19 45 61
2019/20 43 62
2021/21 28 44
2021/22 33 51
1/4/22 to 28/2/23  29 45

Our performance from March 2020 was adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic which resulted in delays in criminal and regulatory body proceedings and which also significantly impacted on our ability to obtain information from other organisations.

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Phone: 0300 244 4000

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