Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme

The PVG Scheme ensures that those who either have regular contact with vulnerable groups through the workplace, or who are otherwise in regulated work, do not have a history of abusive behaviour.

The PVG Scheme ensures that those who either have regular contact with vulnerable groups through the workplace, or who are otherwise in regulated work, do not have a history of abusive behaviour.

It will exclude people who are known to be unsuitable, on the basis of past behaviour, from working with children and/or protected adults and detect those who become unsuitable while in the workplace.

The PVG Scheme is managed and delivered by Disclosure Scotland and provides the following changes to the Disclosure system:

  • Barring – Disclosure Scotland will assess vetting information (e.g. criminal record information) and prevent people that are considered unsuitable to work with children from entering the Scheme.
  • Listing – the DWCL is replaced by ‘the children’s list’ and a new list of individuals who are unsuitable to work with protected adults is established: the adults’ list.
  • Continuous updating – vetting information continues to be collected after the initial application for PVG Scheme membership so that new information can be acted upon if it is relevant

Although the Scheme is not compulsory, PVG Scheme membership will be the only method of checking that workers are not barred from working with children. Organisations must note, however, that it is an offence to ask an individual to join the PVG Scheme if they are not carrying out, or will not carry out, regulated work.

The PVG Scheme Guidance suggests that five questions should be asked to establish if an individual is doing regulated work:

  1. Is it work? This can mean both paid and unpaid but does not include work done in the course of a family relationship or a personal relationship for no commercial consideration.
  2. Who are they working with? In this context, children are young people aged under 18, although young people over the age of 16 can also be protected adults.
  3. What do they do? Are they carrying out an activity that defines the work as ‘regulated work with children’ – see below
  4. Is it their normal duties? It the activity part of the regular duties the individual is doing (e.g. in their role description) or expected to do?
  5. Are there any exceptions which apply? For example: incidental activity, work with children themselves in work or employment

For most individuals carrying out ‘normal’ youth work roles it is likely they will meet the criteria for PVG Scheme membership. The activities covered by ‘regulated work’ include:

  • Caring for children
  • Teaching, instructing, training or supervising children
  • Being in sole charge of children
  • Unsupervised contact with children under arrangements made by a responsible person
  • Providing advice or guidance to a child or to particular children which relates to physical or emotional well-being, education or training

Organisations need to decide which posts involve these activities and ensure that those carrying them out are PVG Scheme members.

The PVG Scheme is a membership scheme, which means that everyone in the Scheme will have a unique membership number and an ‘account’. Individuals are responsible for keeping the Scheme up to date with their current information, such as address, name and organisations where they carry out regulated work. This will allow the Scheme to maintain up to date records and provide information quickly when it is requested.

As a PVG Scheme member you will receive a PVG Scheme Record when you enter the Scheme for the first time. It’s very important that you keep this Record in a safe place as you will need it in the future.

Where you are recruiting a volunteer that is already a PVG Scheme member they will provide you with a Scheme Record, which gives details of their conviction on the date that the record was printed. Using their PVG Scheme membership number you’ll be able to check if new information has been added to the applicant’s record by requesting a Scheme Record Update.

You should ensure that your organisation’s  Secure Handling, Retention and destruction of PVG Scheme Information Policy details who in your club or group is permitted to access confidential conviction information.

Youth Scotland acts as an Umbrella Body, which means that if you are an affiliated group you can access the PVG Scheme through us, for both paid and unpaid posts. In order to do this you will need to appoint a Named Contact in your group that is willing to take on the responsibility of receiving the information on Scheme Records and abide by the Code of Practice.

Youth Scotland provides a package of support, including template policies and forms to groups that access the PVG Scheme through Youth Scotland.

If you would like to access the PVG Scheme through Youth Scotland please contact us on:


For volunteers in qualifying organisations (i.e. the voluntary sector) there is no direct cost for Scheme Records and Updates. If you register with Disclosure Scotland there is an annual fee to be a registered organisation. Volunteer Scotland provides access to free checks for voluntary sector volunteers.

Youth Scotland members can also access the PVG Scheme as part of their membership package.

Paid staff

An application to join the PVG Scheme is £59 for paid staff, or volunteers that are not working in the voluntary sector (e.g. volunteers in schools).

When an individual is a PVG Scheme member, the subsequent Scheme Update is £18. If the Update shows that information has been added since the last Scheme Record, the organisation can access a Scheme Record for £41 if applied for within 30 days.

Sample Policy for Recruitment of Ex-Offenders

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 puts in place legislation regarding people that have been convicted of a criminal offence and have not re-offended since. Under certain circumstances, ex-offenders can ‘wipe the slate clean’ of their criminal record once a period of time has lapsed from the date of conviction, if the custodial sentence was less than 2.5 years. Provided they have not been re-convicted for another offence, their conviction is said to become ‘spent’ and for the purpose of employment it can be treated as though it never existed.  This means that if the ex-offender is asked on an application form, or at an interview, if they have a criminal record they are entitled to answer ‘no’. It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against the ex-offender on grounds of their spent conviction.

However, some types of employment are exempted from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. One of the exemptions is work that involves contact with young people. Therefore, when applying for a post that involves contact with young people, the ex-offenders have to disclose all convictions, spent or otherwise.

The purpose of a Recruitment of Ex-Offenders Policy is to ensure consistent and fair practices are implemented for the recruitment of staff and volunteers who have a criminal record. Having a criminal record does not automatically make a person unsuitable to work with young people. The Policy should state the sort of details that the organisation needs to consider:

  1. Whether the conviction or other matter(s) revealed is relevant to the position in question.
  2. The seriousness of any offence revealed.
  3. The length of the time since the offence or other matter(s) occurred.
  4. Whether the applicant has a pattern of offending behaviour or other relevant matters.
  5. Whether the applicant’s circumstances have changed since the offending behaviour or the other relevant matters.

The use of a Self Declaration Form at the interview stage of volunteer recruitment will allow the applicant to disclose and discuss conviction information, its context and any issues connected with it. This can then be compared to the information contained on the Scheme Record.

Organisations that receive information about volunteers through the PVG Scheme are required to comply with the Code of Practice. The Code of Practice is published by the Scottish Ministers under section 122 of Part V of the Police Act 1997 and places a responsibility on organisations to handle, use, retain and destroy the information in particular ways. Registering with an Umbrella Body (such as Youth Scotland) can assist organisations to meet the requirements of the Code, as the Umbrella Body is responsible for the storage and disposal of the information.

However, organisations that receive disclosure information, even if from an Umbrella Body, still have a number of obligations. These are to do with the use of the information once it is passed to the organisation. Confidentiality must be maintained  at all times, and the post holders that are allowed to receive the information ‘in the course of their duties’ should be detailed in the organisations ‘Secure handling, retention and destruction of disclosure information Policy’.