Protection of Vulnerable Groups and Disclosure of Criminal Information: consultation summary report

The simplified summary report on responses to the recent consultation on proposals for change to the disclosure regime in Scotland.


This report provides a summary of all the responses to the Scottish Government consultation on proposals for change to the Protection of Vulnerable Groups and Disclosure Regime in Scotland. The full analysis has been published alongside this summary.

There were 352 respondents. The majority only answered questions relevant to their expertise or interest.

Those who responded broadly came from:

  • Public Sector (38)
  • Third Sector (172)
  • Private Business (19)
  • Education (17)
  • Health (22)
  • Individuals (84)

There were 245 respondents who gave permission for their responses to be published. They can be found on the Citizen Space website at:

Consultation Questions

There follows, in the order of the consultation paper, statistics about the number of responses to each question and how they were answered. Only Sections 2-6 of the consultation document asked questions. For a more in depth discussion of issues raised, see Part 2 of the full consultation document.

Section 2 - Disclosure Products

Question 1: Do you agree that reducing the disclosure products will simplify the system?

Q1 responses: agree 286, disagree 18, not answered 48

Question 1a: If you have answered no, what do you think will simplify the system?

  • 34 responses to this question
  • 9 responses detailed that reducing products wouldn’t simplify the system and consideration of the principles that underpin the disclosure system is needed
  • Complexity of current system stems from being underpinned by different pieces of legislation
  • Support commitment to provide increased guidance

Question 2: As we are trying to simplify the system, do you have any views on what this product should be called?

Q2 responses: level 1 158, basic 83, other 18, not answered 93

Question 3: As an applicant, do you have any concerns with this approach?

Q3 responses: yes 34, no 218, not answered 100

Question 4: Which fee option do you prefer for the level 1/Basic disclosure? And why?

  • Option 2 is more cost effective for individuals applying for multiple disclosures
  • Limited support for option 1 as more straightforward than option 2.
  • Under option 2 it is unfair for one employer to pay for the initial disclosure as they may not benefit from later reduction in price

Q4 responses: option 1 47, option 2 197, not answered 108

Question 5: Do you agree that it is appropriate to regulate registered bodies in relation to B2B applications?

Q5 respsonses: yes 220, no 8, not answered 124

Question 6: What impacts, if any, do you foresee from moving from a paper based system to a digital system?

  • 264 responses to this question
  • Need to consider accessibility
  • Not having paper option would have negative equality impact
  • Quicker turnaround times
  • Reduced paper usage
  • Greater ownership of information placed on individual

Questions 7: Do you agree with our proposed fee for the apostille service?

Q7 responses: yes 200, no 23, not answered 129

Question 7a: If not, what do you think the fee should be?

  • 38 responses to this question
  • Alternatives suggested were: free, £5

Question 8: Are there any professions/roles for the Level 2 disclosure that are not included that should be on the list?

Q8 responses: yes 66, no 164, not answered 122

Question 8a: If you have said yes, please note what these are.

  • 96 responses
  • Broadly from areas in which individuals are not eligible for PVG membership, but where contact with children or vulnerable adults may result from the provision of services and advocacy.

Question 9: Are there any professions/roles you think should be removed from the list?

Q9 responses: yes 12, no 209, not answered 131

Question 9a: If you have said yes, please note what these are

  • 22 responses to this question, primarily suggesting that some should be moved from this list to the list of protected roles.

Question 10: Do you agree with the proposal to remove certain kinship carers and all foster carers from a membership scheme?

Q10 responses: yes 77, no 121, not answered 154

Question 11: Do you think that the two types of kinship arrangements should continue to be treated differently under the future arrangements?

Q11 responses: yes 88, no 93, not answered 171

Question 12: Do you agree with this proposal that any member of the fostering/kinship household aged over 16 will require a level 2 check?

Q12 responses: yes 170, no 12, not answered 167

Question 13: Do you agree with the proposal that a level 2 check should be undertaken by anyone in the foster/kinship carers network who supervises the children?

Q13 Responses: yes 162, no 22, not answered 168

Question 13a: Do you think that anyone else in the foster/kinship carer’s network needs to be checked? If so, who and why?

  • 74 responses to this question
  • Suggested anyone with unsupervised / regular contact with the child should be checked
  • Said we should avoid those under foster or kinship arrangements being treated differently for their peers
  • The proposal fails to uphold articles under the UNCRC on freedom of association, right to privacy and leisure, play and culture

Question 14: It is currently not possible for individuals over the age of 16 residing in a residential school setting (for example, spouses of house parents), but who do not have specific responsibilities, to obtain an enhanced disclosure. We believe that they should be subject to a Level 2 disclosure, do you believe that this is the correct approach going forward?

Q14 responses: yes 193, no 8, not answered 151

Question 15: Which option should be the content of the Level 2 disclosure product be based upon? Please provide the reason for your choice.

Q15 responses: option 1 10, option 2a 27, option 2b 191, not answered 124

Reasons given included:

  • Option 2b: provides the most information for recruitment decisions
  • Option 2a: middle ground not including information irrelevant or inappropriate for the role
  • Option 1: concerns over the use of ORI in the other options

Question 16: Which price option do you prefer for the Level 2 product?

Q16 respsonses: option 1 44, option 2 187, not answered 121

Question 17: Is it proportionate that the free checks should continue for volunteers who obtain Level 2 disclosures?

Q17 responses: yes 270, no 9, not answered 73

Question 18: What issues, if any, do you foresee with a move to a digital service?

All points raised in relation to a digital service will be shared with the Disclosure Scotland Digital Transformation Team who, with input from policy colleagues and stakeholders, will be developing the digital services.

Section 3 – Reforming the policy underpinning the PVG Scheme

Question 19: How should a mandatory PVG Scheme be introduced and how should it work?

  • Requires plenty of transition time with guidance and training
  • Some suggested a phased introduction

Question 20: Do you agree with the proposal to replace the “regulated work” definition with a list of roles/jobs?

Q20 responses: yes 233, no 71, not answered 48

Question 21: Do you foresee any challenges for organisations from this proposed approach?

Q21 responses: yes 209, no 84, not answered 59

Question 22: Are there any roles/jobs not within the list in Annex B that you think should be subject to mandatory PVG scheme membership?

Q22 responses: yes 184, no 100, not answered 68

Question 22a: If so, please provide more detail on why.

There were over 500 roles not listed in Annex B suggested for inclusion in the list. These are listed at Annex D.

Question 23: To avoid inappropriate membership, what criteria to you think should be used to decide if an individual is in a protected role?

  • What a person does in relation to another was viewed as the most important factor
  • Other factors were where and how long someone was with a child or protected adult
  • ‘Fleeting’ and ‘indirect’ were used to argue against scheme membership

Question 24: Do you think that the decision about whether someone who is in a protected role meets an exception which makes them ineligible for the PVG Scheme should be taken by Scottish Ministers?

Q24 responses: yes 130, no 107, not answered 115

Question 25: Are there roles that would not be protected roles and therefore ineligible for membership to the new scheme, that should, however, be eligible for a level 2 disclosure?

  • 158 responses.
  • Administrative and support staff who have access to sensitive information on vulnerable groups
  • Sports club presidents, treasurers and secretaries
  • Family of foster carers

Question 26: Are there any welfare services that provide support to individuals with particular needs that should be added, or are there any services that should be removed?

Q26 respsonses: yes 58, no 148, not answered 146

Question 26a: If yes, please state what these are

  • Befriending
  • Sport services linked with health and wellbeing outcomes
  • Humanitarian aid

Question 27: At present, the front line member of staff or volunteer whose normal duties require them to carry out certain activities with an adult, such as ‘caring for’, means that staff member is doing regulated work. Is this appropriate?

Q27 responses: yes 228, no 18, not answered 106

Question 28: Should the immediate line manager of that member of staff is also able to become a scheme member?

Q28 responses: yes 229, no 19, not answered 104

Question 29: Outwith the activities, a person can be doing regulated work with adults if they work in certain establishments, namely, a care home; or in residential establishment or accommodation for people aged 16 or over. Do you think these are the correct facilities, or should any be added or removed?

Q29 responses: yes 116, no 86, not answered 152

Question 29a: If yes, please state what these are

Some examples of the suggestions for inclusion were: community centres; sports and leisure facilities and venues; night shelters; secure hospitals; community hubs; and all establishments regulated by the Care Inspectorate.

Question 30: There are also certain exclusions that apply to work in such establishments. A person whose normal duties involve working in such a place will only be doing regulated work if doing something permitted by their position gives them unsupervised access to adults, and where that contact with the adults is not incidental. Do you think this approach is clear and helpful?

Q30 responses: yes 174, no 56, not answered 122

Question 31: The appointment of a person into certain positions in relation to services for adults means that membership of the PVG Scheme is possible. Do you think that list of positions is correct?

Q31 Responses: yes 170, no 51, not answered 131

Question 31a: Should it be amended either by adding to it, or by taking away from it?

  • Delivery of services are more complex now than when the 2007 Act was passed
  • Council committee members, and charity trustees should be removed from the list
  • Some argued for the inclusion of charity directors and officers and all local government councillors

Question 32: How long should scheme membership last in a mandatory scheme?

Q32 responses: five years 201, three years 80, one year 1, other 7, not answered 63

Question 33: Do you think a membership card would be beneficial to you as a member of the PVG scheme?

Q33 responses: yes 178, no 94, not answered 80

Question 34: Do you think a membership card would be beneficial to you as an employer?

Q34 responses: yes 164, no 107, not answered 81

Question 35: Do you agree with the proposals to review the conditions for registered bodies as set out in the Code of Practice and Police Act 1997 and to develop a scheme that can be delivered digitally, that includes registered body duties where possible?

Q35 r:yes 209, no 47, not answered 96

Question 36: What is your preferred option for membership and costs for PVG level disclosure?

Q36 responses: option 1 17, option 2 73, option 3 161, other 10, not answered 91

Question 37: Are you in favour of being able to interact with Disclosure Scotland online to manage PVG scheme membership?

Q36 responses: yes 283, no 14, not answered 55

Question 38: Are you in favour of using electronic payment method for fees?

Q38 responses: yes 266, no 11, not answered 75

Question 39: Do you have an electronic payment method that you prefer?

Q39 responses: yes 109, no 149, not answered 94

Question 39a: If you have answered ‘yes’ please say what it is:

  • BACS and other bank transfers
  • Credit/debit card
  • Easibuy
  • Invoice (Though some opposed as it slows the process)
  • PayPal
  • Sage worldwide
  • Standing order/direct debit

Question 40: Do you have any proposals on how the transitional arrangements for moving away from a life-time scheme membership should work?

  • Guidance and training needed
  • Advance notice, information regarding how it will happen and time to administrate
  • Clarity on protected roles so employers can see who needs to be a member

Question 41: Should volunteers continue to receive free membership?

Q41 responses: yes 281, no 16, not answered 55

Question 41a: If no, should they be subject to a reduced fee?

The importance of volunteering to Scotland was highlighted, and fees could be seen to be a barrier. If there is to be a fee, there was strong support from those who replied that it should be at a reduced rate.

Question 42: Do you agree that voluntary organisations seeking to benefit from a reduced fee or the fee waiver should be subject to a public interest test?

Q42 responses: yes 142, no 112, not answered 86

Question 42a: If so, how should that test be defined?

  • Simple as possible
  • Citing OSCR number
  • Evidence of the public benefit the organisation provided

Question 43: Do you agree that employees and employers alike (including volunteers and volunteering bodies) who work or allow an individual to work in protected roles without joining the PVG Scheme or to stay in protected roles after membership has expired should be subject to criminal prosecution?

Q43 responses: yes 179, no 89, not answered 84

Question 44: Do you agree that any scheme member who fails to pay the relevant fee to renew their PVG Scheme membership and where there are no employers (or volunteering bodies) registered as having an interest in them in a protected role should exit the PVG Scheme automatically at the expiry of their membership?

Q44 responses: yes 238, no 33, not answered 81

Question 45: Should a person who joined the Scheme as a volunteer and benefitted from free entry later try and register a paying employer against their volunteer membership then the full fee would become payable and a new 5 years of membership would commence. Do you agree with this?

Q45 responses: yes 229, no 40, not answered 83

Section 4 – Removing unsuitable people from work with vulnerable groups

Question 46: Do you agree with our proposals to dispense with the current court referral procedure under section 7 of the 2007 Act?

Q46 responses: yes 187, no 35, not answered 130

Question 47: Are there offences missing from the Automatic Listing Order that you think should be included?

Q47 responses: yes 13, no 157, not answered 182

Question 47a: if you answered yes to question 47, please list the offences you believe are missing

  • Common law offences such as theft, fraud, abduction and serious assault depending on severity
  • Coercive domestic abuse
  • Murder of anyone of any age

Question 48: Do you agree with proposals to create new referral powers for the Police?

Q48 responses: yes 214, no 10, not answered 128

Question 49: Do you agree these powers should be limited to when police have charged a person with unlawfully doing a Protected Role whilst not a scheme member or where a referral has not been made by a relevant organisation?

Q49 responses: yes 177, no 42, not answered 133

Question 50: Do you think this proposal, to extent the powers of referral currently available to regulatory bodies to local authorities/health and social care partnerships, closes the safeguarding gap in terms of self-directed support?

Q50 responses: yes 181, no 12, not answered 159

Question 51: Do you think that this list of regulatory organisations with powers to make referrals should be amended?

Q51 responses: yes 49, no 146, not answered 157

Question 52: If you think the list should be amended, please gives details of additions or removals.

  • Organisation should be given full titles e.g. the registrar of the Health and Care Professions Council
  • National and Scottish Governing Bodies of Sport
  • Registrar of Independent Schools
  • NHS Education for Scotland
  • British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and Counselling & Psychotherapy in Scotland

Question 53: Do you agree with the proposal to provide Disclosure Scotland with powers to impose standard conditions on individuals under consideration for listing?

Q53 responses: yes 206, no 14, not answered 132

Question 54: If yes, how long should the conditions last before lapsing?

Q54 responses: 3 months 53, 6 months 148, not answered 151

Question 55: Under what circumstances do you think Disclosure Scotland should be able to impose standard conditions and why?

  • Rare and reserved for most extreme circumstances
  • Need to balance proportionality with rights of the individual
  • Serious misconduct
  • Concerns around conditions based on alleged conduct
  • Information should come from credible sources such as the Police
  • Unnecessary bureaucracy and additional costs
  • Alternative that Disclosure Scotland support employers to develop an action plan

Question 56: Do you agree that it should be a criminal offence if an individual and employer/voluntary body failed to comply with standard conditions?

Q56 responses: yes 179, no 30, not answered 143

Question 57: Do you agree the age threshold for the shorter prescribed period for a removal application from inclusion on the list(s) to be made should be raised?

Q57 responses: yes 167, no 54, not answered 131

Question 58: Which option do you prefer?

Q58 responses: yes under 18 years (no change) 54, under 21 years 56, under 25 years 111, not answered 131

Question 59: Do you think it’s appropriate that organisations, irrespective of where the regulated work is to be carried out, should be informed of a listed individual’s barred status?

Q59 responses: yes 224, no 8, not answered 120

Question 60: Do you agree with our approach for PVG Scheme Members in a protected role overseas or organisations employing PVG members to do a protected role, such as providing aid services?

Q60 responses: yes 217, no 7, not answered 128

Question 61: We are proposing that there should be criminal offences in relation to organisations who employ barred persons overseas. Do you think that we should also consider introducing criminal offences in relation to barred individuals offering to undertake a protected role overseas?

Q61 responses: yes 209, no 10, not answered 133

Section 5 - Offence lists and removal of spent convictions from a disclosure

Question 62: Are there any offences missing from either list, those being schedule 8A or schedule 8B, that you think should be included? If so what are they, on what list should they appear and why?

Q62 responses: yes 12, no 154, not answered 186

  • Concerns raised regarding changing technology creating new offences
  • All offences that result in the harm of a child should be included
  • Domestic abuse or any offence with a domestic abuse aggravator
  • Animal abuse or cruelty
  • identity theft, tax offences and breaches of court orders should be included in 8B
  • The use of the 8A and 8B lists could create conflict with the aims of rehabilitation
  • All spent convictions should be removed from a disclosure unless the state makes a case to disclose it

Question 63: Are there any offences on schedule 8A that you think should be on schedule 8B? If so, please list them and explain why.

Q63 responses: yes 11, no 138, not answered 203

  • Offences in relation to prostitution
  • The default position should be non-disclosure unless the state makes a case to disclose
  • Separate consideration should be given to offences committed by those under 18 years of age, with particular consideration given to care experienced children

Question 64: Are there any offences on schedule 8B that you think should be on schedule 8A? If so, please list them and explain why.

Q64 responses: yes 18, no 132, not answered 202

  • Offences relating to psychoactive substances offences
  • Domestic abuse or abuse behaviour or a domestic aggravator
  • Sexual harm of a partner or ex-partner
  • Offences that lead to the endangerment of a child
  • Fireraising
  • False accusations
  • Adult protection
  • Harassment
  • Offensive weapons
  • Obscene materials
  • Offences related to dishonesty or violence
  • Forced marriages

Question 65: Do you agree with the categorisation of the new offences included in Annex C?

Q65 responses: yes 146, no 16, not answered 190

Question 65a: If no, please state how they should be categorised.

  • Some respondents thought that “abusive behaviour towards a partner or ex-partner” should be on the 8A list of offences
  • One respondent felt that many of the new offences shouldn’t be on either list
  • Another stated that some of the common law offences are out of date and would simplify the system to remove them

Question 66: Do you believe the rules for disclosure in the current form of 15 years and 7.5 years provide appropriate safeguarding and privacy protections?

Q66 responses: yes 148, no 45, not answered 159

Question 67: Do you agree that a reduction in the disclosure periods from 15 & 7.5 years is appropriate considering the changing policy on rehabilitation of offenders?

Q67 responses: yes 125, no 66, not answered 161

Question 68: What period between 11 and 15 years do you think is appropriate for disclosure?

Q68 responses: 11 years 59, 12 years 33, 13 years 11, 14 years 1, 15 years 70, other 6, not answered 172

Question 69: Do you think the application process to seek removal of a spent conviction should be reviewed?

Q69 responses: yes 173, no 30, not answered 149

Question 70: At present, an individual has three months from the date of notification of an intention to appeal to make an application to a Sheriff. Do you think this time period is (too long, too short, correct):

Q70 responses: too long 38, too short 23, correct 132, not answered 159

Question 70a: If you indicated that the time period is too long or too short, what do you think the time period should be?

  • Responses between 2 weeks and 24 months
  • Most popular responses were 1 month and 6 months

Question 71: Do you think any of the options set out above, those being the introduction of an administrative process stage prior to application to a sheriff, the introduction of an independent reviewer or making an application to a tribunal, offer viable alternatives to an application to a Sheriff?

Q71 yes 120, no 52, not answered 180

Question 71a: If yes, which one?

Q71a responses: IR 37, DS 54, Tribunal 13

Question 71b: If not, do you have any other suggestions?

  • Should stay with the judiciary
  • More guidance and information needs to be available
  • Concern independent reviewer would only review decisions based on a point of law
  • Concerns about Disclosure Scotland’s expertise to make decisions to consider convictions in other contexts than barring
Section 6 – Additional policy questions

Question 72: Do you agree that Ministers should have a power to issue statutory guidance to Police Scotland on the processes governing the generation and disclosure of ORI, including seeking representations from the individual before issuing it for inclusion on an enhanced disclosure or PVG scheme record?

Q72 responses: yes 183, no 23, no repsosne 146

Question 73: Do you agree with Ministers proposals to allow for representations to the chief constable before disclosure of ORI to a third party and for providing the individual with the option to appeal to an independent reviewer before ORI is disclosed?

Q73 responses: yes 169, no 28, no response 155

Question 74: Do you agree that the independent reviewer being appointed under the ACR Bill should be used for reviewing ORI?

 Q74 responses: yes 170, no 16, no response 166

Question 75: Should there be specific provisions reducing the possibility of the state disclosure of criminal convictions accrued by young people 12 years or older on all types of disclosure?

Q75 responses: yes 145, no 43, not answered 164

Question 75a: If there should, what age range should the special provisions apply to?

Q75a responses: 12-14 7, 12-15 17, 12-16 27, 12-17 16, 12-18 43, 12-21 30, not answered 212

Question 75b: Please tell us why you have selected an age range or given your answer.

  • 12-18: strikes a balance between allowing young people to move and recognising that they can be viewed as an adult at 18
  • 12-21: youth crime tends to desist by mid-20s and this age range provides a better opportunity for young people to move on
  • The lifelong effects for care-experienced people were also noted, as there was concern that disclosure of convictions can act as a barrier to further opportunities for young people
  • Six respondents felt we should consider extending the age range to 12-25, which coincides with the peak age for offending and citing evidence that the brain is not fully mature until mid-20s and development continues up to age 25

Questions 76: Should there be a presumption against the disclosure of all convictions accrued between 12 and a specified upper age, with the only possibility being police disclosure as ORI after ratification by the Independent Reviewer on the Level 2 and PVG Level disclosures?

Q76 responses: yes 99, no 70, not answered 184

Question 77: Should there be no state disclosure of any conviction between the age of 12 and the specified upper limit, except where the conviction is for an offence listed in schedule 8A or 8B?

Q77 responses: yes 103, no 61, not answered 188

Question 78: If there is a disclosure of an 8A or 8B conviction(s) should all other unspent convictions be disclosed even if the other unspent convictions are for offences not listed in schedule 8A or 8B?

Q78 responses: yes 86, no 80, not answered 186

Question 79: Should disclosure applicants with 8A and 8B convictions be able to apply immediately to a sheriff (or other authority) to have those treated as protected regardless of the passage of time?

Q79 responses: yes 80, no 84, not answered 188

Question 80: When including ORI on any disclosure about conduct between the age of 12 and the upper age limit should the police only be able to refer to matters they reasonably considered to be serious?

Q80 responses: yes 147, no 28, not answered 177

Question 81: Do you agree with the proposal to place a lower age limit on applicants for criminal record checks?

Q81 responses: yes 139, no 52, not answered 161

Question 82: In what circumstances should a criminal record check for a child under 16 be permitted?

  • Roles similar to foster care proposal given in consultation
  • 15 year olds applying for college/work having met school leaving age requirements

Question 83: Do you have any concerns with the proposal to introduce a minimum age of 18 years for people who want to become registered person or those who are nominated to be countersignatory in connection with Level 2 and PVG Level disclosures?

Several responses asked that it be made 16 years old, in line with Scottish voting age, minimum age of directors and OSCR minimum age for trustees.

Question 84: Do you think a supported person arranging self-directed social care should have access to vetting information which could include details about previous convictions relating to a prospective carer?

Q84 responses: yes 174, no 16, not answered 162

Question 84a: If you responded ‘No’ to Q84 , do you have any suggestions about how Disclosure Scotland checks could be structured to assist a supported person making their own arrangements for self-directed social care?

  • Continue to use scheme membership but associate the supported person with the member
  • Third party registered body to receive the information and make assessment on suitability
  • More support to interpret the information supplied by Disclosure Scotland

Question 85: Do you think this approach for private individuals working with children or protected adults is correct?

Q85 responses: yes 83, no 95, not answered 174

Question 86: Do you think that specialised interpreters whose assistance may be needed to allow a person to participate in day-to-day life it should be regulated work?

Q86 responses: yes 145, no 27, not answered 180

Question 87: Should vetting information be available if the arrangements are being made by a private individual?

Q87 responses: yes 154, no 22, not answered 176

Question 88: Do you agree that the law be changed to sort this anomaly that a charity must have one main purpose only, that is work with children or work with protected adults, for a trustee to be able to join the PVG Scheme and if a charity has as its main purpose services directed at both vulnerable groups then trustees cannot apply to join the PVG Scheme?

Q88 responses: yes 214, no 4, not answered 134

Question 89: Do you think that provision should be made to bring into force the amendment at section 78(1) of the 2007 Act that would have allowed information about a notification requirement under the 2003 Act made following an application by a chief constable to be included on a basic disclosure?

Q89 responses: yes 158, no 134, not answered 181

Questions 90-94

These questions looked for views to inform impact assessments and will be looked at in those reports.


Disclosure Scotland policy team:

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