Criminal record checks in Scotland

Disclosure Scotland helps employers make safer decisions when they're recruiting people. It also makes sure unsuitable people don't work with vulnerable groups, including children. 

What it does:

If an employer wants to hire someone, they can ask Disclosure Scotland for a certificate which gives details of the person's criminal convictions.

If the person doesn't have a criminal record, the certificate will make it clear to the employer that they have no convictions.

Disclosure Scotland also manages the Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme. This is a membership scheme for people who work with children or vulnerable adults. Employers can check a member's record at any time to make sure they're still safe to work with these groups.

To keep these records accurate, Disclosure Scotland can access a range of police data, as well as data from other sources.

Its responsibilities include:

  • issuing certificates for criminal records checks for basic, standard or enhanced disclosures
  • adding people doing work with vulnerable groups to the PVG Scheme
  • deciding whether a person should be added to or removed from a barred list
  • maintaining the barred lists for regulated work with children or protected adults


What is a Disclosure?

A Disclosure is a document containing impartial and confidential criminal history information held by the police and government departments. They are administered by Disclosure Scotland, an Executive Agency of the Scottish Government.

There are several types of Disclosure which can be applied for:

  • A Basic disclosure certificate shows any 'unspent' criminal convictions you may have in the UK. Unspent means you need to declare them. You can use this certificate to show to prospective employers or other people that need to know this information.
  • Standard Disclosure contains all conviction information, spent and unspent, including cautions, and inclusion on the Sex Offenders Register
  • Enhanced Disclosure contains all conviction information, spent and unspent, including cautions, and inclusion on the Sex Offenders Register. It also contains other non-conviction information considered to be relevant by the Police, and depending on eligibility of the position applied for, may also include whether someone is barred from working with children, or barred from working with protected adults
  • Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme Record contains all conviction information, spent and unspent, and any other non conviction information considered to be relevant by the police or other Government bodies. It will also advise whether the individual is under consideration for listing on the children’s and/or adults barred lists. More information on barred lists in Scotland
  • PVG Scheme Record Update If you are a member of the PVG scheme, your membership lasts for life unless you choose to leave the scheme.

    You should keep your record up to date if for example, you change jobs or move house. This means that Disclosure Scotland can contact you quickly if needed and information is sent to the right place.

What kind of disclosure is required?

The types of disclosure most relevant to Making Music groups working with young people are the Basic Disclosure and the PVG Scheme. Enhanced Disclosure would be the correct level for any group members carrying out work in prisons.

For regulated work with children or protected adults, the PVG Scheme is now the most appropriate type of check. Regulated work is the term used by the PVG Act to define the types of work which barred individuals must not do, and for which PVG Scheme membership is available. It should be noted that a PVG certificate will NOT be issued if the individual is already barred. Instead, a letter will be issued by Disclosure Scotland.

The PVG Scheme doesn't apply to all jobs and volunteering. It only applies to 'regulated work'. There are 2 types of regulated work – work with children and work with protected adults. Regulated work is usually jobs including:

  • caring responsibilities
  • teaching or supervising children and/or protected adults
  • providing personal services to children and/or protected adults
  • having unsupervised contact with children and/or protected adults

There are many kinds of roles, both paid or unpaid. Some examples are:

  • nurse
  • child-minder
  • girl guide leader
  • dentist

It can also apply to certain positions of trust within organisations, even where the role doesn't involve any direct contact with children or protected adults. Examples of this include:

  • membership of certain council committees
  • trustees of charities focused on children
  • trustees of charities focused on protected adults

Applying for a Basic Disclosure on your own behalf

Individuals can apply for a Basic Disclosure, for any purpose. It costs £25, including postage of the Disclosure, and the application can be made online.

Applying for the PVG scheme on your own behalf

An individual can apply to join the PVG Scheme in their own right if they are intending to do regulated work in future, or if they are self-employed and carrying out regulated work (for example, a self-employed piano teacher). It costs £59 to apply to join the PVG Scheme and receive a Scheme Membership Statement.

More information about the PVG Scheme can be found online.

Applying on someone else’s behalf / Applying through an umbrella body


It's against the law for an organisation to employ someone to work with children or protected adults if they're barred from doing it.

It's also illegal for the barred person to do or seek to do this work. Because of this, organisations should only employ people who are members of the PVG scheme. If they aren't, you should ask them to join the scheme so you can make sure they're allowed to do this type of work before you employ them.

You need to be a registered body to apply on behalf of an individual for Standard, Enhanced Disclosures and PVG Scheme Record. There is a minimum annual charge of £75 for registering with Disclosure Scotland. This fee covers the lead signatory and up to 4 countersignatories. Adding more countersignatories costs £15 each per year.

If your organisation does not wish to become a registered body, you can apply for Disclosures through an umbrella body. Umbrella bodies may charge an additional fee for processing applications – see the umbrella bodies page for details of fees. A Personal Employer cannot register with Disclosure Scotland or use an umbrella body.

Organisations which fulfil the legal criteria of being a 'Qualifying Voluntary Organisation' will be able to obtain free PVG disclosures for their volunteers.  Disclosure Scotland suggests that Making Music member groups may wish to consider using the services of an umbrella body called Volunteer Scotland. Their Disclosure Service is grant funded by Scottish Government specifically to provide support and guidance on disclosure to voluntary organisations and to countersign applications on their behalf. They do not charge an administration fee for providing this service to voluntary organisations, and member groups would also not need to pay Disclosure Scotland’s £75 annual registration fee. Volunteer Scotland can be contacted on

Personal employers

It's not against the law for a personal employer to hire someone to work with children or protected adults if they're barred from doing it. It's still illegal for the barred person to do this work though, and if they're found to be doing it they can be prosecuted.

We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.