Scots police are delaying child safety checks
SCOTS police take twice as long to check out child care workers as forces south of the border.
Scottish officers take three weeks to carry out screening checks on people wanting to work with children, while in England the average is nine days.
Only two in five checks on Scots are dealt with within the target time of a fortnight.
Forces in Englandprocess four out of five vetting checks on time.
Anyone wanting to work with youngsters has to be checked for criminal offences under the Disclosure Scotland scheme.
The screening scheme was founded in 2002 following the Dunblane school massacre, to investigate potential employees’ criminal history.
Certificates are issued to employers giving details on convictions or stating that the applicant has no criminal history.
But now youth organisations and politicians are calling on a change in the vetting process following long delays inScotland.
Labour’s former justice minister Dr Richard Simpson said: “While it is essential such checks are thorough, they should be turned around as quickly as possible.
“Delays can cause all sorts of problems for employees and organisations.
“It is entirely unacceptable that delays inScotlandshould be so much longer than elsewhere.
“The SNP Government should work with the Association of Chief Police Officers inScotlandto urgently address this.”
The agency, funded by taxpayers, sent 66,000 vetting enquiries to the police last year.
But less than half of those applications were handled by forces inScotland.
Scottish police are meant to respond to 90% of the requests within 14 days.
But last year, just 40% of Scottish enquiries were turned around on time, while forces in the rest of theUKturned around 82% of their enquiries on time.
Tory justice Spokesman David McLetchie, said: “These targets were created for a reason and it is simply unacceptable that in so many cases they are being missed.
“While the vetting that they carry out is important and must not be rushed, the police also have an obligation to limit the disruption these applications cause.”
Debbie Adams, of Children 1st charity said: “Vetting and a system of checks are necessary to screen out unsuitable individuals from working with children as their welfare is of paramount importance.
“However it is essential that the chosen system works quickly and effectively in order to ensure that vetting not only enables children to be safe, but that it also doesn’t dissuade adults working or volunteering with them, due to the process being too lengthy or difficult.
“We would hope that, with the recent implementation of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups scheme, these timescales would improve significantly.”
The SNP introduced the Protection of Vulnerable Groups scheme last year to replace and improve the existing Enhanced Disclosure arrangements.
Jim Sweeney, of youth work charity, YouthlinkScotland, said they would welcome a movement to speed up enquiries.
He said: “We’d broadly welcome any measure that would speed up dealing with enclosure requests.
“We hope that the new Protection of Vulnerable Groups scheme will produce a better, more streamlined and quicker system for all organisations concerned.”
A spokesman for Association of Chief Police Officers inScotlandsaid the matter was for individual forces.
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