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Protecting vulnerable groups

The Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme (PVG Scheme) went live in Scotland on 28 February 2011. This new membership scheme is intended to replace and improve upon the current disclosure arrangements for people who work with vulnerable groups.

The PVG Scheme is intended to:

  • help to ensure that those who have regular contact with children and protected adults through paid and unpaid work do not have a known history of harmful behaviour;
  • be quick and easy to use, reducing the need for PVG Scheme members to complete a detailed application form every time a disclosure check is required;
  • strike a balance between proportionate protection and robust regulation and make it easier for employers to determine who they should check to protect their client group.

The PVG Scheme is Scotland's response to the principal recommendation of the Bichard Inquiry Report which was undertaken following the Soham murders in 2002. This recommendation called for a registration system for all those who work with children and vulnerable adults in the UK. A similar scheme planned for the rest of the UK – the Vetting and Barring Scheme – is currently under review.

The Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) (Scotland) Act 2007 lists the delivery of dental care as a ‘regulated activity’ and therefore all dental professionals will need to register. The PVG Scheme will be managed and delivered by Disclosure Scotland and further information can be found on their website.

During the first year the PVG scheme will only be available to those joining the workforce for the first time, those moving jobs or those whose circumstances have changed. It will take 4 years for the full PVG scheme to be phased in.

The GDC document Standards for Dental Professionals lists six key principles that dental professionals should apply to their daily work. Principle 5 tells registrants to ‘maintain your professional knowledge and competence'. It goes on to say in principle 5.4 that registrants must 'find out about laws and regulations which affect your work, premises, equipment and business and follow them'.

The GDC will have a legal obligation to share information about registrants with the PVG Scheme. The GDC may also receive information about its registrants from the Scheme and has already been decided that such information should be considered as an allegation of impaired fitness to practise through the usual channels.

More information can be found on the Scottish Government's website or in this information leaflet

Click here to read a GDC press release on the subject.