Scotland

Concern over school disclosure rule change

Children lining up in playground
Image caption Anyone working with children need to be disclosure checked

New vetting rules for adults who help with pupil activities or serve on school councils amount to an identity card scheme, a parents' group has said.

Checks on the background of those who come into contact with children have been around for a while, but they are about to be upgraded.

The Scottish Parent Teacher Council said it was worried volunteers' records would be retained indefinitely.

But the Scottish government said the claims were "misleading".

A letter outlining the council's views will be considered by the children's minister Adam Ingram.

Concern about potential child abuse has led to extensive checks on the background of any adult who may come into contact with children.

The present system was thought to be too bureaucratic and too expensive and its replacement comes into force at the end of November.

In the letter to Mr Ingram, the council's executive director, Eileen Prior, said: "We have raised concerns about misuse of disclosure checks since the original scheme started some years ago.

"Now the legislation is about to change and we know many local authorities intend to continue pushing parents through disclosure in the same way."

She added that the new Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme would require people who work with children to be long-term members of the scheme and have their personal records held on government computers.

'Paper chase'

Ms Prior said: "The government has spent in excess of £50m on the IT and systems development for the new scheme: surely that has not been spent to monitor parents who hire a hall or want to be part of a parent council? In effect this becomes an identity card scheme.

"We believe the government has to act in order to stop local authorities from pursuing these policies.

"Disclosures are designed to protect young people and vulnerable adults but, in some areas, have become a paper chase and a box-ticking exercise.

"We believe common sense has to prevail."

However, a Scottish government spokesman said: "The claims made by the SPTC are misleading and repeat misunderstandings which have been addressed previously."

He said it was not an identity card scheme, and that the SPTC had been "closely involved" in its development.

"Information held by Disclosure Scotland on scheme records relating to PVG scheme members is simply a collation of information already held on police computers.

"Individuals who are concerned that they may be being asked for a disclosure inappropriately should report the matter to Disclosure Scotland for further investigation."

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