Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scheme

1. Policy Statement

1. Policy Statement

The University is committed to providing a safe and protected environment for its staff and students at all times.

We comply fully with the relevant legislation and statutory guidance to ensure that, where relevant, applicants, employees and students are members of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scheme (the PVG Scheme) which has been introduced by the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007 (the 2007 Act).

We are committed to equality of opportunity for all and to providing an environment that is free from unfair and unlawful discrimination.

2. Scope and Purpose

2. Scope and Purpose

Staff who carry out ‘regulated work’ with children and/or ‘regulated work’ with a ‘protected adult’ under the 2007 Act are required to be members of the PVG Scheme. This is to ensure that they are not barred from carrying out work with children and/or ‘protected adults’.

3. Principles

3. Principles

  • The University will carry out checks only where they are necessary and required under the law;
  • Processes will be workable, proportionate and consistent;
  • Information will be processed and handled sensitively and confidentially and in full compliance of Data Protection legislation;
  • We will adhere to the Code of Practice as issued by Scottish Ministers under Part V of the Police Act 1997
  • Having a criminal record will not necessarily prevent employment with the University. This will depend upon the nature of the position, together with the circumstances and background of the offences

4. Background

4. Background

The Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007 came into effect on 28 February 2011. It created a membership scheme to replace the previous Disclosure Scotland checking system for individuals who work with children and/or protected adults. The legislation makes it an offence for an organisation to employ a person who is barred from working with children and/or Protected Adults and for an individual to put themselves forward for regulated work whilst barred.

Within the Act, the following definitions apply:

Children -   individuals who are under the age of 18;
Protected Adults -  individuals aged 16 or over who are provided with a type of care, support or welfare service;
Regulated Work -  individuals who are specifically employed for the majority of their time in caring for, supervising and advising children and/or protected adults.  The PVG Act defines ‘regulated work’ by reference to:

  • the activities that a person does;
  • the establishments in which a person works;
  • the position that they hold;
  • or, the people for whom they have day to day management responsibility.

Disclosure Scotland has confirmed that Higher Education Institutions are included within the Protection of Vulnerable Groups legislative framework. However, not all individuals who come into contact with children or Protected Adults through their work are doing regulated work under the terms of the Act. Therefore, only University employees and certain students who are enrolled on certain degree programmes (i.e. Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and Education) who are specifically engaged for the majority of their time in caring for, supervising and advising children and/or Protected Adults will require Scheme membership.

As the University of Glasgow admits a proportionately small number of students each year who are under 18 years of age, the majority of members of staff will be deemed to engage only in “incidental contact” with those who are defined as “children” under the Act.

Examples of the types of role where it may be appropriate for the postholder to have PVG Scheme membership are attached as Regulated Positions. Disclosure Scotland has provided guidance to the Higher Education sector on the types of roles within Universities that will be covered by the Act and College Human Resources Managers will work with the relevant Schools/Research Institutes/Divisions to identify any posts that will require Scheme membership in addition to those which are listed.

5. What is a PVG Scheme Record?

5. What is a PVG Scheme Record?

Individuals who work on a regular basis with children and/or Protected Adults will join the PVG Scheme and from then on, their membership records will be automatically updated and their employer(s) notified if new information is received e.g. if they come under consideration for being included on the list of individuals who are barred from working with regulated groups.

There are 2 types of check available:

PVG Scheme Record
A PVG Scheme Record check can be requested by an employer who is employing an individual to do regulated work when the individual is joining the PVG Scheme for the first time.

The Scheme Record certificate is not specific to one post and is also portable, through the individual staff or student member, between employers.  The Scheme Record certificate is a document containing impartial and confidential information held by the police and government departments which can be used by employers to make safer recruitment decisions (“vetting information”). It also includes :

  • Confirmation that the individual is not barred from (or is under consideration for being barred from) regulated work with children and/or Protected Adults, as appropriate;
  • Spent and unspent convictions held on central records;
  • Certain non-conviction information which a Chief Constable may choose to disclose should s/he deem it to be relevant to the position sought.

PVG Scheme Record Update
A PVG Scheme Record Update can be requested by an employer who is recruiting an existing PVG Scheme member for the first time. The purpose of the Update is to enable employers to check that a potential employee is a PVG Scheme member and is not barred from working with vulnerable groups. This certificate will highlight the existence (but not full details) of any previous vetting information or new information which has become available since the individual joined the Scheme.

The cost of applying to join the PVG Scheme for the first time is £59 and a PVG Record Scheme Update application costs £18. The University will meet the cost of joining the Scheme for existing and new members of staff.  Where appropriate to the course of study, it is a condition of entry onto the degree programme for students to become members of the PVG Scheme.

6. Recruitment Procedure

6. Recruitment Procedure

The further particulars for posts which require the postholder to undertake duties which fall within the scope of the Act will state that any offer of appointment will be conditional on confirmation of a satisfactory PVG Scheme record check. The offer of appointment will be made subject to such confirmation being received.

The University requires all relevant new employees, or those who transfer within the University to a new role which involves them undertaking duties which fall within the scope of the Act, to undertake a satisfactory PVG Scheme Record check as follows:

Individuals who are already Scheme members
In some cases, individuals may already be members of the PVG Scheme if it has been required of them by another employer or for voluntary work which they undertake. In such circumstances, a PVG Scheme Record Update will be requested in the first instance. If the Update highlights that vetting information exists, the individual will be asked to provide a copy of their full Scheme Record. If the Update highlights that new vetting information has been added since the individual’s most recent full Scheme Record was produced, a further full PVG Scheme Record check will be requested.

Individuals who are not already Scheme members
The University will require them to join and will provide assistance to the individual during the application process.

7. Obtaining PVG Scheme Membership

7. Obtaining PVG Scheme Membership

Only Registered Bodies can access Scheme Records and Scheme Record Updates. The University holds Registered Body status. The University is permitted one designated Lead Signatory and a number of Counter-signatories are employed within the Department of Human Resources and in each of the Colleges.  The Counter-signatories will initiate and complete the process of obtaining the Scheme membership confirmation.

When the successful candidate for the post has been identified, the oral and written offer of employment will be made subject to receipt of a satisfactory PVG Scheme Record check. The formal offer will include the appropriate PVG Scheme application form and guidance on completion.

The completed PVG Scheme application form and associated documentation will be returned to the Counter-signatory, who will verify the identity, check the details, countersign the form and forward it to Disclosure Scotland.

Disclosure Scotland will then carry out the necessary checks and return the PVG Scheme Record check to the relevant Counter-signatory. A copy of the certificate will also be sent to the individual concerned.

8. Commencing Employment

8. Commencing Employment

Where the timescale associated with the checking process is likely to cause serious problems, Heads of College/the Chief Operating Officer, may, at their discretion, permit the new member of staff to commence employment. Such permission will only be granted on the condition that adequate supervision will be provided when required. If such permission is not granted, it is a requirement that employment will not commence until a satisfactory check has been received. The form to be used to seek permission for a new member of staff to commence employment is attached as.

9. Temporary Staff

9. Temporary Staff

Heads of School/Research Institute/Division who employ temporary staff are responsible for ensuring that appropriate PVG Scheme checks have been undertaken, where required, for all those who are employed on this basis prior to them taking up the position. Similar arrangements should also be made for self-employed individuals who are paid on the submission of invoices. If the timescale associated with the checking process is likely to cause serious problems, authorisation for an early commencement of employment may be sought from the Head of College/Chief Operating Officer, through the risk assessment process.

10. Existing Staff

10. Existing Staff

Under the new scheme, the University is also required to notify Disclosure Scotland when any member of staff who has been employed in regulated work leaves the University e.g. as a result of resignation, retirement etc.

11. Referrals to Disclosure Scotland

11. Referrals to Disclosure Scotland

The PVG Act aims to provide a robust system by which unsuitable people are prevented from doing regulated work with children or Protected Adults and by which people who become unsuitable are identified. The process of providing such information to Disclosure Scotland is called “making a referral”. The PVG Act places a duty upon the University to make a referral in the following circumstances:

  • Where an individual doing regulated work has done something to harm a child or protected adult and;
  • Where the impact is so serious that the University has (or would) permanently remove the individual from regulated work.

If, as a result of any of the referral grounds being met, the University dismisses an individual who was doing regulated work or transfers them to other duties that do not involve that type of regulated work, a referral to Disclosure Scotland will be made on behalf of the University by the Chief Operating Officer. It is an offence for the University not to make a referral within 3 months of the criteria for referral being met.

12. Appendices