Page last updated at 11:29 GMT, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Child protection vetting improved

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The government hopes the scheme will streamline the vetting system

A new scheme aimed at streamlining the disclosure system designed to protect children and vulnerable adults has been announced.

The Scottish government said the £53m project would replace the need for multiple "one-off" checks with a continually updated system.

A consultation on what is called the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme has been launched.

It is expected the scheme will be introduced before the end of 2010.

Children's Minister Adam Ingram said: "These reforms will strengthen our ongoing work to support vulnerable children and adults by ensuring those who are unsuitable are not given positions of responsibility while those against whom concerns are raised are detected earlier and are prevented from continuing to work with them.

This new approach achieves a better balance between protection and practicality and removes the need for multiple checks
Harriet Dempster
Association of Directors of Social Work

"These reforms will produce a more robust but equally a more streamlined system that strikes the right balance between protecting those who need it without hindering those looking to help."

But the Scottish Conservatives said the new measures would not contain measures to stop registered sex offenders from working with children.

Children's spokesperson, Liz Smith said that in 2006, the SNP called for the practice to end, but have refused to implement it in government.

She added: "It is extremely disturbing that this loophole remains open. Nicola Sturgeon was very specific in 2006 - she said it should be closed.

"We completely agree with her, which is why the SNP's steadfast refusal to stick to their word is yet another broken promise. They say one thing in opposition, and do another when in government.

"Parents the length and breadth of Scotland have been betrayed. Registered sex offenders should not be allowed to work with children."

However, Martin Crewe, director of Barnardo's Scotland, said: "This will be a more flexible scheme, reducing the need for individuals to go through multiple vetting checks, while ensuring those who are barred cannot work or volunteer with children or other vulnerable people.

"Together with robust child protection and safe recruitment strategies, this new scheme will help ensure we have the best possible framework in place to protect children and vulnerable adults."

Harriet Dempster, president of the Association of Directors of Social Work, said: "Protecting vulnerable groups is a key priority.

Lower fee

"This new approach achieves a better balance between protection and practicality, removes the need for multiple checks, reduces the risk of delay and provides workable safeguards which will be welcomed by employers and volunteers."

The government said the scheme would also ensure that people who become unsuitable during their employment are quickly identified and allow employers to check records quickly and easily while reducing the time and cost demands on individuals when their circumstances change.

Initial membership will cost £59 with a lower fee of £18 for subsequent records updates - substantially less than in England and less than the existing cost of an enhanced disclosure check and these will be turned around almost instantly.

All PVG Scheme Record Disclosures and Updates will continue to be free for volunteers working in regulated work in the voluntary sector.



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