The PVG Scheme

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In April 2025, it is expected that the Disclosure (Scotland) Act 2020 will come into effect.  This will mean a number of quite significant changes in relation to the way the disclosure system works. For this reason, you will find the information on this page a little basic.  We will be creating more comprehensive guides once the new rules come into force.  Thank you for bearing with us!

Disclosure Scotland

Disclosure Scotland is the Scottish Government agency responsible for conducting criminal record checks as part of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme and the Disclosure levels.

You may be asked to apply to become a PVG Scheme member when applying for a job or volunteering role that involves doing regulated work with Children and/or Protected Adults. Disclosure Scotland have created a video that provides an overview of all of the types of disclosure that they offer.

A table with examples of appropriate language use

The information on this page is designed to help you understand the PVG Scheme. If you require a different level of disclosure, please see our Disclosure Levels page.

A table showing the notification periods for the various sentence types. Prison sentence of 30 months or more (including life), Indefinite. Order for lifelong restriction, Indefinite. Admission to a hospital subject to a restriction order, Indefinite. Prison sentence of more than 6 months but less than 30 months, 10 years. Prison sentence of 6 months or less, 7 years. Admission to a hospital without a restriction order, 7 years. Community payback order with an offender supervision requirement, The length of the offender supervision requirement. Any other sentence (e.g. a fine or admonition), 5 years.

PVG Scheme

What is the PVG scheme?

The Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme is a government-run scheme in Scotland that helps to safeguard children and protected adults from harm. It does this by providing a criminal record check for people who want to work with these vulnerable groups. 

What is the purpose of the PVG scheme?

The PVG scheme is an important safeguarding measure for protecting children and protected adults from harm. By conducting criminal record and other checks, the PVG scheme helps to ensure that only those who are suitable to work with these vulnerable groups are able to do so.

Who manages the PVG scheme?

The PVG scheme is managed by Disclosure Scotland.

How do I apply for a PVG?

Information on how to apply to the PVG scheme can be accessed on the Disclosure Scotland website. 

Who needs a PVG in Scotland?

Anyone who wants to do regulated work with children or protected adults in Scotland may need to join the PVG scheme. 

It is important to understand what counts as regulated work because only then will you know whether you need to join the PVG scheme or not.

Disclosure Scotland have created a video that helps to explain what counts as Regulated Work.

5-Step Guide 

The following simple, 5-step guide can be used to identify if a role would be eligible for regulated work and with which group. Organisations who want to recruit someone to do regulated work would be responsible for ensuring eligibility. 

This is only for use as a guide.

Step 1 - Is it work?

  • Work can be paid or as a volunteer
  • It can be under a contract or not
  • Foster caring counts
  • Students on a work placement counts

It’s not work if it’s part of a family relationship (e.g. a father caring for his own child).

It’s not work if it’s done as part of a personal relationship for no money (e.g. babysitting your best friend’s child)

Step 2 - Who are you working with?

Children is anyone under the age of 18

Protected Adults are aged over 16 and receiving one or more of the following services:

  • Registered care service (a service regulated by the Care Inspectorate)
  • Health service (e.g. dentist, GP, hospital, etc.)
  • Community care service (social work or mental health services provided by a Council)
  • Welfare service. A welfare service must involve providing support, assistance, advice or guidance to individuals with “particular needs”. It must also:

a) Be provided in the course of work to one or more persons aged 16 or over; and

b) Be delivered on behalf of an organisation; and

c) Require training to be undertaken by person delivering the service; and

d) Has a frequency and formality attached to the service, and

e) One of the following:

             i.          Require a contract to be agreed between the service provider and service user, or

             ii.          Be personalised to an individual’s needs

“A particular need is a specific requirement an individual may have arising from either physical or mental ill-health, or physical or mental disability which may disadvantage that person when compared to the rest of society.”

What is a particular need?

Examples of particular needs:

Physical or mental ill-health, disability or impairment (temporary or permanent)

Degenerative diseases

Prolonged impairment in doing ordinary tasks

People with drug or alcohol problems

Not accepted as particular needs:

Common ailments such as cold or flu

Debt problems

English as a second language

People in detention

Unemployed or economically deprived

Literacy or numeracy problems (unless part of a condition which does give rise to particular needs)

Friends or relatives of protected adults/people with particular needs

Step 3 - What are you doing? AND Where are you working?


What are you doing?

•        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

•        Work on any part of day care premises at times when children are being looked after in that part

•       Providing, or working for an organisation which provides, an independent health care service which is provided exclusively or mainly for children

Where are you working?

The following places count as “regulated establishments”:

•        school;

•        FE college;

•        school hostel;

•        children’s hospital;

•        children’s home;

•        children’s detention unit

However, they only count if, when working in the building, there will be opportunity for unsupervised contact with children. For example, if you were working as a cleaner in a school only after the school has closed and therefore when there are no children there, it would no longer count as regulated work.

Protected Adults

What are you doing?

•        Caring for adults

•        Teaching, instructing, training and supervising adults

•        Being in sole charge of adults

•        Providing assistance, advice or guidance to adults

•        Inspecting care services on behalf of the Care Inspectorate or Healthcare Improvement Scotland

Where are you working?

The following places count as “regulated establishments”:

•        Care home

•        Residential establishment or accommodation occupied exclusively or mainly by individuals 16+ and provided by (or on behalf of) a council under either:

- Social work Scotland Act 1968 or;

- Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003

Step 4 - Is the work part of your normal duties or is it incidental?

Normal Duties

It would normally be considered part of your normal duties if it’s something you would be expected to do as part of your job on an ongoing basis. For example, if it’s something that is part of your job description.  

It is unlikely to be counted as normal duties if it’s only done in an emergency or as a one-off that is not part of your normal role. 


It is likely to count as incidental if the activity is open to the general public.

It wouldn’t count as incidental if the activity is specifically for children or protected adults, or if the advertising was specifically designed to make it more appealing to children or protected adults.

Step 5 - Are there any exceptions that apply?

The rules are complicated and there are exceptions.

For example, if you have a colleague who is under 18, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the people they are working with must be members of the PVG scheme.

If you are unsure, the best thing to do is contact Disclosure Scotland for advice.

Finally - Specific Positions

There are certain positions that, if you take on the role, you must be a member of the PVG scheme.


Examples include:

•        Charity trustee

•        Foster carer

•        Some council committee members

•        Chief social work officer

•        Chief education officer

•        Direct line manager of someone who is carrying out regulated work

Protected Adults

Examples include:

•        Chief social work officer

•        Some council committee members

•        Charity trustee

•        Direct line manager of someone who is carrying out regulated work

What if I am barred from the PVG scheme?

If Disclosure Scotland finds any information that makes them think you might be unsuitable to work with children or protected adults, you will be “considered for listing”. 

This means that they will carry out an assessment process to decide whether to add you to their barred list.

They can bar you from working with children, or protected adults, or both.

They might receive information about you from:

•        Information about a conviction or other relevant information from the police

•        Information about a conviction from the Scottish Court Service

•        Referral from your former employer or regulatory body

It is worth bearing in mind that, if you weren’t a member of the PVG scheme prior to your conviction, particularly if the conviction is from before the PVG scheme existed, the ‘consideration for listing’ process will only occur if you apply to become a member of the PVG scheme. 

Therefore, it is possible that you could become “listed” many, many years after your offence. 

If you are “listed” by Disclosure Scotland it's a criminal offence to do regulated work with the vulnerable groups you're listed for. It's also against the law for an organisation to employ a listed person in regulated work they're barred from. If you're listed, then you're not eligible for PVG scheme membership for that type of work.

The process that Disclosure Scotland will go through when deciding whether or not to “list” you is detailed on their website.

If you're unhappy about being listed as unsuitable to work with children and/or protected adults, you can appeal against the listing to a sheriff.

This must be done within 3 months of Disclosure Scotland's decision to list you.

If the sheriff thinks you are unsuitable for regulated work, the listing will remain in place. If the sheriff thinks you are suitable for regulated work, you will be removed from the list.

If you disagree with the sheriff's decision, you can appeal against it to the sheriff principal. Disclosure Scotland can also appeal the decision if they disagree with it. Contact your local sheriff court for information on how to make this appeal.

The sheriff principal's decision is final unless they allow an appeal to the Inner House of the Court of Session. The decision of the Inner House is final.

Apply to be removed from a list

You can apply to be removed from a list if you meet any of the 3 criteria:

•        You were listed at least 10 years ago

•        You were under 26 when you were listed and it’s at least 5 years since the listing

•        Your circumstances have changed and it affects your suitability to work with children or protected adults

Examples of a relevant change in circumstances include:

•        The conviction which caused your listing has been overturned

•        You’ve recovered from a mental illness which caused your offending

•        You’ve stopped problem behaviours for a long period of time and there’s independent evidence to support this

Contact Disclosure Scotland and they’ll give you more information on how to apply.

Email address specifically for questions relating to consideration or listing: pucorrespondence@disclosurescotland.gov.scot

Phone: 0300 020 0040
Monday to Thursday 9am to 4pm
Friday 9am to 3:30pm

After you apply

Disclosure Scotland will decide whether to remove you from a list. They may ask you to provide more information.

They’ll carry out checks to help make their decision. For example, they’ll check if you’ve had any convictions since you were listed.

If they decide you should stay on a list, they’ll tell you why they’ve made this decision and how you can appeal.

If they decide to remove you from a list, you’ll no longer be barred from working with the group you were listed for. You can then apply to join the PVG scheme if you wish.

Last updated:
February 27, 2024
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