The proposals within the Bill have been developed in collaborative way, involving Scottish Government colleagues as well as a wide range of stakeholders that use or have an interest in the disclosure regime in Scotland.
Discussions have been on-going with colleagues across the Scottish Government in developing the Bill, including:
- Scottish Government Legal Directorate
- Youth Justice Team
- Adult Social Care Reform
- Third Sector Unit
- Criminal Justice Division
- Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service
- Education Directorate – Work experience
- Active Scotland Division
- Disclosure Scotland Finance
Scottish Government colleagues have helped to identify further organisations to consult with and are helping to ensure that the outcomes and strategic direction of the future disclosure regime are aligned with other relevant policies across the Scottish Government. Scottish Government policy officials from Justice, Youth Justice and Disclosure Scotland have worked closely together in all aspects of amending the disclosure regime in pursuit of a broader vision.
The Disclosure (Scotland) Bill has been developed through an inclusive approach, involving extensive stakeholder engagement and consultation across a full range of stakeholders.
The PVG Review was announced at the Disclosure Scotland stakeholder conference in November 2016 by Deputy First Minister John Swinney. To determine the terms of reference that would describe the broad scope of the review as it moved onto the next stages, Disclosure Scotland officials completed seven engagement events with 41 external stakeholders (from 36 organisations) and nine internal stakeholders. It was agreed the review would consider the following:
- definition and scope of regulated work and associated terminology
- whether the PVG Scheme should be mandatory for people doing regulated work
- the number of barred lists, and the number of regulated workforces
- products under the 1997 and PVG Acts
- PVG Scheme and Police Act disclosures fee structure
- thresholds and processes used to determine listing and referrals
- content of, levels of, and access to both disclosure and barring information and processes
- offences related to doing regulated work
- balance between safeguarding and proportionality/privacy based on risk assessment
- the role of vetting and barring in public protection
After agreeing the terms of reference for the review, Disclosure Scotland engaged with stakeholders to gain insight into how they felt about the current PVG Scheme and disclosure products and what they wanted to see in Scotland’s future disclosure and barring arrangements. Three rounds of engagement took place for this phase of the review and, in order to ensure a high level of stakeholder engagement, a number of methods were used throughout this process. These included: individual interviews, group participation sessions, telephone interviews, an online survey and the stakeholder conference.
Feedback was collated, recorded and analysed after each round of engagement.
A wide range of participants took part in this stage of the review. Disclosure Scotland engaged with over 350 organisational representatives and individuals throughout Scotland, and the online survey generated over 800 responses. Examples of organisations which took part in the review included:
- local authorities
- NHS boards
- sport governing bodies
- education institutes
- church groups
- third sector organisations
- professional regulatory bodies, and
- individual scheme members.
Disclosure Scotland’s pre-consultation engagement brought out the complex nature of the present disclosure system. It also highlighted the degree of value and trust that people invest in Disclosure Scotland and all of its products, but particularly the PVG Scheme. This early engagement provided the evidence to inform the options to take forward for further consultation.
Formal public consultation
Drawing on the outcomes and evidence from the early engagement, Disclosure Scotland published an extensive consultation paper on 25 April 2018 covering the following key areas of disclosure:
- Disclosure products
- Reforming the policy underpinning the PVG Scheme
- Removing unsuitable people from work with vulnerable groups
- Offence lists and removal of spent convictions from a disclosure record
- Additional policy questions
- Non-legislative changes
The consultation was distributed widely to stakeholders, including over 3,000 registered bodies and responsible bodies registered with Disclosure Scotland. Disclosure Scotland received 353 responses, 269 from organisations and 84 from individuals. Responses were received from a range of stakeholders with varying backgrounds including judicial bodies, the legal sector, local government, voluntary organisations and the health sector. All papers related to the consultation, including the early engagement report, consultation document, published responses, the summary and full reports on consultation responses, and the Scottish Government response to the consultation can be found at https://consult.gov.scot/disclosure-scotland/protection-of-vulnerable/.
Throughout this engagement there has been a widely held view that the disclosure regime needs to be simpler and supported by clear guidance. Disclosure Scotland has made a commitment to providing further guidance and training, however, there was an appetite for significant change to the policies underpinning the regime which will require legislative provision.
Since the formal public consultation closed, officials at Disclosure Scotland have continued to engage with stakeholders to further discuss policy options, address issues raised by the consultation responses and refine policy for inclusion in the Bill.
The proposals for the Disclosure (Scotland) Bill impact upon all organisations which use the disclosure regime, including the PVG Scheme. The consultation was sent to a large stakeholder audience, including every registered body that uses the PVG Scheme and every responsible body that currently uses the B2B channel.
Disclosure Scotland also held 37 engagement events during the formal public consultation period, which 215 organisations attended. Feedback from these sessions was included as an annex to the full report on consultation responses.
Disclosure Scotland has an existing commitment to improve and evolve its services. In order to improve communication and engagement with stakeholders, a stakeholder advisory board was set up in 2015 to advise Disclosure Scotland on future work areas or about the stakeholder implications and reaction to possible future scenarios for the Agency and its services. The stakeholder advisory board has an evolving membership and consists of a number of organisations and/or sectors that use the disclosure regime, including representatives of local authorities, health boards, the care sector, regulatory bodies, voluntary organisations and victims groups.
In September 2017, the stakeholder advisory board were involved in drafting options for the future of the disclosure regime in Scotland. The proposals being progressed for consultation were again discussed with the board in March 2018 where some initial concerns and potential barriers around the mandatory scheme, regulated roles and standard conditions were discussed. Following analysis of consultation responses, the stakeholder advisory board met to discuss which proposals would be developed for the Bill, transitional and implementation issues following it and what further engagement was needed to look at the effects of these. It was agreed that the stakeholder advisory board should have an ongoing role in developing and delivering on transitional arrangements and they would supply Disclosure Scotland with further information on any anticipated impacts to their organisations. Towards the end of 2018, several members provided figures and narrative on the impacts on their organisations of the proposed changes to the disclosure regime.