Criminal record checks in Scotland

Disclosure Scotland’s core function is to contribute to the safety of vulnerable people in society. They provide criminal history information to organisations and potential employers to help them make safer and more informed recruitment decisions. Disclosure Scotland maintains barred lists of those individuals unsuitable to work with children or protected adults for organisations and potential employers.



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:

  • Basic Disclosure contains only convictions considered unspent under The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Anyone can apply for a basic disclosure in their own name. This might be requested for a new job, volunteer work or to support a visa application
  • 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
  • PVG Scheme Record Update does not contain the details of any vetting information but will confirm whether or not the individual’s most recent Scheme Record contained vetting information, and whether there has been any change to the information. It will also advise whether or not an individual is under consideration for listing in the workforce(s) applied for. The Update should be used when the individual is already a PVG Scheme Member for the relevant workforce(s), and will be cheaper and quicker than applying for a new PVG Scheme Record. If the Update indicates any changes in the vetting information, the organisation can request the full Scheme Record at a discounted cost

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.

If a member of the group is carrying out regulated work with children or protected adults, then membership of the PVG Scheme is required. If a member of the group is carrying out work that is NOT regulated work with children or protected adults, an application can be made for a Basic Disclosure for any purpose.

There are five steps to assessing whether an individual is doing regulated work:

  • Is it work?
  • Who are they working with?
  • What do they do?
  • Is it their normal duties?
  • Are there any exceptions which apply?

Groups might find it useful to keep in mind that just having contact with children or protected adults is not in itself eligible for PVG membership. A person whose contact with children is supervised at all times, by what the PVG Acts considers a “responsible person”, is unlikely to require PVG membership. But if a person is themselves carrying out a regulated activity (e.g. teaching or instructing children) then they are doing regulated work, even if a responsible person is also present.

Disclosure Scotland has produced a very useful self-assessment tool, which groups can use to consider whether a role involves regulated work and therefore requires PVG membership.

There is also a detailed guide available to explain the concept of regulated work.

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.

For PVG applications which are not countersigned by a Registered Body, only a Scheme Membership Statement will be issued. This does not contain any vetting information but will advise whether the individual is under consideration for listing or not. Personal Employers (such as the parent of a child receiving piano lessons from a self-employed teacher) can countersign an application in order to receive a copy of the Scheme Membership Statement.

PVG application forms are not currently available online. Paper application forms can be obtained by phoning Disclosure Scotland’s helpdesk on 0870 609 6006. Disclosure Scotland recommends that groups obtain a supply of both types of form (Applications to Join PVG and Existing PVG Member applications), and not just specifically how many they need just now.

More information about the PVG Scheme can be found online.

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

You need to be a registered body to apply on behalf of an individual for Standard, Enhanced Disclosures and PVG Scheme Record/Scheme Record Update. This is a legal requirement under Part V of the Police Act 1997 and the PVG Scheme. The charge for registration is £75 (this includes registering the lead signatory, plus up to four other signatories), and there is a £75 annual fee.

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 – please see the umbrella bodies page below 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


"Qualifying voluntary organisation" means an organisation which is not:

  • a further education institution, a school, a public or local authority, or under the management of a public or local authority; and
  • conducted primarily for profit, and any profit generated is used to further the objectives of the organisation and not distributed to its members"

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.