Dad blasts coun­cil fail­ure to carry out PVG checks

The Oban Times - - Front Page - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­

COUN­CIL­LORS who have not passed vi­tal suit­abil­ity checks may have been given ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion about vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple, con­trary to na­tional guide­lines.

An­gus Files, whose son lives with se­vere autism, says the sit­u­a­tion is ‘hor­ren­dous’ and has in­sisted that Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil staff should have stopped coun­cil­lors at­tend­ing meet­ings un­til pa­per­work was in place. Mr Files is de­mand­ing to know why this has been al­lowed to con­tinue for a num­ber of years.

Mr Files, whose 18-year-old son Geoffrey has a men­tal age of two, is con­cerned that con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion about his son has been passed to coun­cil­lors who are po­ten­tially not fit to serve.

Mr Files said: ‘Geoffrey has low func­tion­ing re­gres­sive autism. I don’t want any­one hav­ing his con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion un­less they are suit­able to have it. I don’t think the coun­cil can guar­an­tee that. This is hor­ren­dous.

‘While I am sure it is not the case, po­ten­tially these coun­cil­lors could have con­vic­tions for of­fend­ing against peo­ple. The worst case could be that they are on the sex of­fend­ers’ reg­is­ter with ac­cess to sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion.

‘While leg­is­la­tion ex­ists to pro­tect vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple, Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil seems to have de­cided to ig­nore this and has al­lowed two coun­cil­lors to at­tend meet­ings with­out the checks. These peo­ple may not be suit­able to do the job – we do not know. That’s a ter­ri­ble sit­u­a­tion to be in.

‘The Pro­tec­tion of Vul­ner­a­ble Groups (PVG) leg­is­la­tion is there to pro­tect peo­ple who need ex­tra sup­port. It is un­ac­cept­able that two mem­bers of the Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Com­mit­tee have never re­turned the pa­per­work.’

A Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest out­lined the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion. The head of law at the coun­cil, Charles Reppke, said: ‘It is only the mem­bers on the Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Com­mit­tee who re­quire to be PVG checked, as this com­mit­tee deals with the pro­vi­sion of ed­u­ca­tion, accommodation and so­cial ser­vices to chil­dren and pro­tected adults on be­half of the coun­cil.

‘I am able to con­firm that [one coun­cil­lor] was first con­tacted by email on June 4, 2014, fol­low­ing the Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Com­mit­tee be­ing set up. The coun­cil­lor was also sent [four] fur­ther emails ask­ing her to con­firm the po­si­tion as it re­lated to her.

‘On Fe­bru­ary 5, 2016, [an­other] let­ter was sent en­clos­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion to join the PVG scheme and an ex­ist­ing PVG scheme mem­ber form, and she was asked to com­plete which­ever was ap­pli­ca­ble.

Fur­ther re­minder emails [were sent] on May 16, 2016, and Oc­to­ber 5, 2016.

‘[a sec­ond coun­cil­lor was sent an email] on May 16, 2016, fol­low­ing ap­point­ment to the com­mit­tee to find out whether or not [they] were al­ready a mem­ber of the scheme.

‘[The coun­cil­lor] never replied and was sent the two sets of forms by post on Oc­to­ber 6, 2016, and asked to com­plete which­ever was ap­pli­ca­ble.

‘[The coun­cil­lor] was handed the forms again within the past fort­night but has not yet re­turned ei­ther of them.’

A spokesper­son for Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil added: ‘ When coun­cil­lors are ap­pointed to the Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Com­mit­tee they are ad­vised that they should reg­is­ter un­der the PVG scheme.’

Both coun­cil­lors in ques­tion were ap­proached by The Oban

Times and said the forms had been re­turned. In one case, the forms had gone miss­ing and in the other case the forms have now been com­pleted.

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