MSPs have voted unanimously to pass legislation aimed at extending background checks for those working with children.
The Disclosure (Scotland) Bill requires anyone working with young or vulnerable people to have a protecting vulnerable groups (PVG) check undertaken into their background.
The Bill also ends the lifetime membership of the scheme, as well as ending the need for disclosure of some minor offences committed as a child.
MSPs backed the legislation by 63 votes in favour, with no members voting against.
Children’s minister Maree Todd told MSPs: “At the heart of every justice reform this Government has brought forward is our absolute belief that people are capable of change.
“Over these last few months, tens of thousands have volunteered to support their communities, in these incredibly challenging times. Some of these people may even have committed offences in the past but today they’re positively contributing to our national effort.
“This Bill maintains and strengthens the safeguarding offered by state disclosure, however it also recognises that people should be able to move on from their past.”
Scottish Tory education spokesman Jamie Greene said Scotland was “on the cusp of a volunteer revolution” due to the coronavirus crisis, adding: “It’s important that you strike that balance between how do we protect children against welcoming people into the system.”
Scottish Labour education spokesman Iain Gray welcomed the time limits of the scheme, which would mean Disclosure Scotland – the body tasked with overseeing the scheme – would not need to do so for those who are no longer using their PVG check for employment or volunteering.
Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer welcomed the provisions in the Bill which meant that minor offences committed while under the age of 18 do not necessarily need to be disclosed.
He said: “Rehabilitation and reintegration into society for people who have committed an offence in the past is a key part of creating a more just and safe society, but it’s one that must be balanced with safeguarding vulnerable people against those who may still pose a risk.
“The disclosure system must balance these issues and set out robust procedures for when past convictions should be disclosed.”
Outwith the Bill, Ms Todd promised a review of safeguarding in politics in response to an amendment by Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton.
Cole-Hamilton sought to change the Bill to make it mandatory that politicians and candidates for elected office hold a valid PVG check.
Todd said a review would be undertaken which would then make recommendations for legislative change to the Scottish Government.
The Lib Dem MSP chose to withdraw his amendment following the pledge from the minister, but questioned whether the review would be complete before the next election in May 2021.
She said that the current pandemic may mean that is not possible.
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country