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Make a referral to Disclosure Scotland

If an organisation or employer has employees or volunteers doing 'regulated work', they have a duty to report any harmful behaviour that might affect whether the person is allowed to work with children or protected adults.

This applies whether the person is a member of the PVG Scheme or not.

This is called making a referral.

By law, employers must report harmful behaviour even if it takes place outside of work, or the employer only finds out about it after the employee or volunteer has left.

When to make a referral to Disclosure Scotland

The employer must make a referral to Disclosure Scotland explaining what's happened. This only has to be done if the harmful behaviour meant that the person involved:

  • was dismissed as a result
  • would have been dismissed but left before they could be
  • was transferred permanently away from work with children or protected adults

If any of these disciplinary actions were taken, the company or employer must make a referral to Disclosure Scotland within 3 months of the decision being made.

Harmful behaviour that should be referred

The following are examples of harmful behaviour which should be referred:

  • harming a child or protected adult
  • placing a child or protected adult at risk of harm
  • inappropriate behaviour involving pornography
  • inappropriate behaviour of a sexual nature involving a child or protected adult
  • giving inappropriate medical treatment to a child or protected adult

Types of harm

There are a number of different ways 'harm' can be defined. It's also important to bear in mind that people can cause a risk of harm without actually doing anything directly.

Examples of harm include:

  • physical harm (like inappropriate physical restraint or assault)
  • psychological harm (like emotional abuse)
  • theft (like embezzlement)

Examples of behaviour which lead to a risk of harm include:

  • attempting to harm (even if they don't succeed)
  • trying to make someone else cause harm
  • encouraging someone to self-harm
  • reckless behaviour or incompetence that may cause someone to be harmed as a result, even if they didn't mean it to

How to send a referral

If an employee or volunteer has been permanently removed from work for harmful behaviour towards a child or protected adult, the employer or organisation has to send an employer referral form to Disclosure Scotland.

The form asks for:

  • proof of the person's identity (name, address, date of birth, national insurance number)
  • details of the type of regulated work they're employed to do
  • the person's PVG scheme number, if they have one
  • information on the harmful behaviour
  • details and documentation relevant to the employer's investigation and outcome

The referral shouldn't identify any children or protected adults by name. It should use a coded reference instead, like "child A - age 12, male, victim".

When the details have been filled in, email the referral form to or print out and post it to the address provided in the form.

Training webinars

Disclosure Scotland runs free training webinars to help employers understand the referral process. You can sign up on the Disclosure Scotland events page or email to find out more.

Sample referrals policy

Organisations and employers can use Disclosure Scotland's sample referrals policy to help create their own policy on referrals. They can also use it within their own disciplinary policies and procedures. They can add their own branding if they want to.

Other types of referral

Many referrals to Disclosure Scotland come from employers, but referrals can also be sent by regulatory bodies, employment agencies, personnel suppliers and courts.

Regulatory bodies should use the regulatory body referral form.

Employment agencies and personnel suppliers should use the employer referral form .

Regulatory bodies

If a regulatory body discovers that a person should be referred to Disclosure Scotland, they have the power to do this.

They must make a referral if they think that someone they are regulating has done some harmful behaviour and believe that no other body has referred the matter to Disclosure Scotland.

Employment agencies

If an employment agency thinks someone who's doing or who has done regulated work has done some harmful behaviour, they must make a referral if they've decided not to do business with, or find regulated work for them.

Personnel suppliers

Personnel suppliers who employ people to do regulated work for others must make a referral if they:

  • dismiss the person as a result of harmful behaviour
  • would have dismissed a person for harmful behaviour but they stopped doing regulated work before they could be dismissed
  • have decided not to offer or supply the person for regulated work as a result of harmful behaviour

Court referrals

A court must refer people if they're convicted of certain offences. They can also refer people if they're convicted of an offence that the court decides is serious enough to bar (prevent) them from regulated work with children or protected adults.

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