Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton has lodged a series of amendments to the Disclosure (Scotland) Bill which would require all elected members in Scotland to undergo a PVG check before they can spend time unsupervised with children or vulnerable adults, safeguarding against exploitative or predatory behaviour.
The Education Committee will vote on the amendments at its next meeting on Wednesday 11th March.
The changes would make it an offence for an elected representative (MSP, MP or councillor) to partake in regulated activities without being a member of the PVG scheme. These activities include meeting alone with children and vulnerable adults or spending time unsupervised with young people on work experience.
In the event that they fail the post-election Disclosure Scotland check, new rules will be drafted setting out what measures will be put in place, for example potentially requiring MSPs to be chaperoned by a senior member of staff who is in possession of a PVG when meeting children or vulnerable adults.
The amendments could also see political parties require PVG checks for anyone who holds a position of power or influence in a political party and could spend time unsupervised with children or vulnerable adults, for example target seat candidates, office-bearers or other positions which could wield power over these people.
Alex Cole-Hamilton commented:
“My proposal to extend PVG checks to politicians is a common sense safety move designed to ensure there are proper protections in place for children and vulnerable adults who come into contact with them.
“These checks are commonplace in sports clubs, community groups and health and social care settings. There is no good reason to exempt elected politicians and other powerful figures working within political parties.
“Parents should know that young people on work experience are with someone who can be trusted. Carers should know that vulnerable adults attending a surgery aren’t going to be left alone with someone who hasn’t undergone any independent vetting whatsoever. No such guarantees exist at the moment and that is wrong.
“There is often a significant power imbalance between those in elected office and those who encounter them. We know that some people can use their status to manipulate, target and exploit. People need protecting from that and it’s something we can put into law this Wednesday.
“I hope that when this comes to a vote every party in the Parliament will acknowledge the importance of strengthening the protections in place and back my amendments.”