We are committed to ensuring safe recruitment and employment of individuals who work with children and protected adults. We are equally committed to ensuring the fair treatment of those we recruit and employ including those who have previous convictions.

We recognise the importance of security vetting to ensure the safety and security of information, data and assets and to limit and reduce any fraudulent activity within the workplace.

Legislation allows us to carry out criminal conviction checks to ensure the safety and welfare of vulnerable individuals and to ensure suitable security vetting within the workplace.

Disclosure Scotland process checks and share information about people's criminal records. This helps us to employ the right people for certain types of work, like working with children or protected adults.

This policy provides a method of checking the suitability of employees who have criminal convictions for specific posts.

This policy applies to all potential and existing employees whose posts require a criminal conviction check to be carried out. A list of posts requiring a criminal conviction check is updated regularly and held by Human Resources.

Spent and Unspent Convictions

Individuals who have committed an offence are considered to be rehabilitated after varying periods of time and their convictions are then deemed to be spent. Under normal circumstances, individuals do not need to declare any spent convictions. However, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act recognises that there are some situations where information about spent convictions should remain available and therefore allows spent convictions to be disclosed.

These exceptions include instances where people are applying for positions involving contact with children and protected adults. This information can only be requested in relation to professions excluded or exempted by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. The types of work exempted under the order are generally posts where there is a requirement to provide care, training or supervision of children or protected adults, including voluntary positions. There are however other professions covered by the legislation and managers should be familiar with posts within their Service area that fall into this category. A list of occupational areas covered by legislation is provided on Inside Falkirk.

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

Where the period of rehabilitation is not complete, the conviction is deemed to be unspent. In all situations unspent convictions will be highlighted on the appropriate Disclosure/PVG Check. Having a previous criminal conviction does not automatically stop an ex-offender from being appointed to a post that is exempted from the act. It is the manager's responsibility to risk assess the relevance of the conviction to the post the individual is applying for.

More information is available in How to carry out PVG and Disclosure Risk Assessments.

How to carry out PVG and Disclosure Risk Assessments and Overseas Checks

Whilst checks are carried out as a recruitment check, where a concern is raised during employment, an employee may be required to complete an additional check to ensure they remain suitable for a particular post.


Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007 and PVG Scheme

The Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Act provides statutory protection to children and protected adults from harm and defines work (paid or unpaid) with children or protected adults as regulated work.

Regulated work falls into two categories - regulated work with children and regulated work with protected adults and these are defined within the PVG Act.

If a role involves working with children or protected adults, employees may be eligible for the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme.

PVG is a membership scheme which makes sure its members are allowed to work with children or protected adults. It is designed to ensure that unsuitable individuals do not have access to children or protected adults through their work. It also aims to ensure that individuals who become unsuitable are detected early and prevented from continuing to work, or from seeking work, with children or protected adults.

The PVG Scheme is managed by Disclosure Scotland who maintain lists of individuals who are barred from working with protected groups. The lists provide us and other registered bodies with a way of checking if potential or existing employees are barred from undertaking regulated work.

It is a criminal offence for people who have been disqualified from regulated work to apply for a position working with these groups or for us to employ an individual to work with the groups they are barred from.

The information provided by Disclosure Scotland will depend on the type of check being requested and could include:

  • Details of membership
  • Details of relevant criminal records (if any)
  • Information about a persons inclusion on the list of those barred from working with children and/or protected adults
  • Other relevant information held by a local police force or Government body
  • Clarification that there is no information held.

The definition of regulated work is available and detailed information can also be found on the Scottish Government website.

Definition of regulated work

Those in regulated work must maintain membership of the PVG Scheme. More information is available in How to carry out PVG and Disclosure Checks .

How to carry out PVG and Disclosure Checks

Disclosure Checks: Basic, Standard and Enhanced Disclosures

Basic, Standard and Enhanced disclosures are available for positions not covered by the PVG Scheme and are governed by legislation.

  • Basic disclosure is available for any purpose, for example, employees working with cash
  • Standard disclosure is available for specific posts, for example, solicitors and accountants
  • Enhanced disclosure is available for specific post titles along with posts unrelated to work with vulnerable groups, for example, other appointments involving access to children or protected adults other than through regulated work such as those living in a household with foster children

A disclosure check provides us with information on previous criminal convictions. The information included in the disclosure certificate will depend on the type of disclosure applied for and could include:

  • Details of relevant criminal records (if any)
  • Information about a persons inclusion on the list of those barred from working with children and/or protected adults
  • Other relevant information held by a local police force or Government Body
  • Clarification that there is no information held

More information is available in How to carry out PVG and Disclosure Checks.

How to carry out PVG and Disclosure Checks

ViSOR

ViSOR is the recognised national IT system for the management of people who pose a serious risk of harm to the public. It is Home Office owned and maintained and as such, it is the Home Office that sets the level of vetting required.

To access and use ViSOR all staff with access to the system must be vetted to either Non-Police Personnel Vetting Level 2 (NPPV 2) or Non-Police Personnel Vetting Level 3 (NPPV 3), depending on an individual's role when using ViSOR.

NPPV 3 is required for only employees who are assigned the Central Point of Contact (CPC) role for ViSOR or the Local Point of Contact (LPC) role or Local Administrator for ViSOR.

NPPV 2 is required for all other employees accessing or using ViSOR.

NPPV includes the same system checks as Enhanced Disclosure and PVG, and also includes family members and financial checks; all of which are intended to protect the individual and organisation from the potential for manipulation and the inappropriate disclosure of sensitive information. Clearance will be a condition of employment and may impact on an offer of employment or future employment.

ViSOR checks are carried out by Police Scotland.

ViSOR

Baseline Personnel Security Standard

The Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) is a set of guidelines followed for effective pre employment screening. We will follow the BPSS guidelines to ensure the identity and integrity of employees with access to official information or systems.

It involves a number of checks:

  • Identity check
  • Nationality and Immigration Status
  • Employment History (past 3 years)
  • Verification of Criminal Record (unspent convictions only)
  • References covering previous 3 year period
  • Checks relating to time spent living or working abroad

The checks relating to gaps in employment history or additional references covering a 3 year period are considered good practice. All relevant information required as part of this check should be recorded on the recruitment checklist.


Overseas Criminal Records Checks

Where the post requires a Disclosure or PVG Check and the individual has lived or worked overseas for a period of 3 months or more in the last 5 years, additional overseas criminal records checks should be carried out.

How to carry out PVG and Disclosure Risk Assessments and Overseas Checks

Payment Arrangements

Candidates and employees are responsible for all fees relating to criminal conviction checks. A payroll deduction form must be signed by the candidate/employee in advance of any applications being submitted to Disclosure Scotland. The form allows for different periods of repayment, which should be discussed with the candidate/employee.

Disclosure and PVG Salary Deduction Form

Where a candidate does not sign the form, they should be advised that their application cannot be progressed any further.

Should a candidate have a check undertaken and choose not to start employment they remain responsible for the cost of the check. The recruiting manager is responsible for writing to the candidate to advise them on the method of repayment.


Countersignatory Obligations

Countersignatories are authorised by Disclosure Scotland to sign off applications for PVG and disclosure checks on behalf of Falkirk Council. As such, anyone signing disclosure applications must be registered with Disclosure Scotland. As a registered countersignatory, there are specific obligations

It is essential that all countersignatories familiarise themselves with this and the information on secure handling, use, storage, retention and destruction of disclosure information.

If a Countersignatory receives any correspondence from Disclosure Scotland about a PVG member which they did not specifically request through a check, whether they are still employed or have left Falkirk Council, they should contact the HR Helpdesk. The individual may have moved to another department or taken up secondary employment and other relevant countersignatories must be made aware of the correspondence in order to take any necessary actions.


Secure Handling, Use, Storage & Retention

We comply fully with the Disclosure Scotland Code of Practice, and Data Protection Act 2018 regarding the correct handling, holding and destroying of Disclosure information.

Secure handling, use, storage, retention and destruction of disclosure information

Whilst PVG/disclosure records must not be retained for any longer than required, a clearance form must be completed and filed in the personal file. A copy of any required risk assessments are held on paper file by HR for future reference. Membership numbers and disclosure certificate numbers are recorded on the HR/Payroll (Resourcelink) system for future reference.

Disclosure or PVG scheme clearance form

Counter-signatories, under the direction of the Council's Lead Signatory, are responsible for ensuring that PVG/disclosure records are stored in secure conditions in accordance with the Code of Practice. Information on counter-signatories can be obtained by contacting the HR Helpdesk. Aside from certain limited exceptions, it is an offence to share records with a third party.


Referrals Process

Disclosure Scotland represents Scottish Ministers when making decision relating to referred individuals who have committed harmful conduct in Scotland.

Under the PVG Act organisations have a duty to to report any harmful behaviour that might affect whether the person is allowed to work with children or protected adults. This applies whether the person is a member of the PVG Scheme or not.

We must make a referral to Disclosure Scotland explaining what's happened. This only has to be done if the harmful behaviour meant that the person involved:

  • was dismissed as a result
  • would have been dismissed but left before they could be
  • was transferred permanently away from work with children or protected adults

If any of these disciplinary actions were taken, we must make a referral to Disclosure Scotland within 3 months of the decision being made.

If you are considering making a referral to Disclosure Scotland, you must discuss this with your Service HR Business Partner prior to any referral being submitted. Advice may also be required from Governance.

A referral form is available from the Disclosure Scotland website.