Scotland politics

Concern voiced over outstanding Scottish youth football vetting checks

David Little
Image caption David Little said as long as there were PVG checks outstanding he was "concerned"

The boss of the Scottish Youth Football Association (SYFA) told MSPs he was concerned that there were hundreds of coaches awaiting vetting checks.

David Little was speaking the day after BBC Scotland revealed the (SYFA) had 949 volunteers without Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) certification.

The scheme carries out background checks on individuals to ensure their suitability to work with children.

Mr Little explained the "churn" in volunteers had led to a backlog.

SYFA chief executive Mr Little said his organisation had 15,000 or so helpers who ran its 39 leagues and coached 60,000 registered players.

He told members of Holyrood's health and sport committee: "We have a churn of anywhere between 30 and 40% of our members on a yearly basis, which causes great difficulties.

"It's not as if we've got members who are going to be there year in, year out.

"There will always be people to be checked.

"This is indicative to sport in general, not just football, that there is this churn of officials."

Mr Little said up to 1,000 checks can be required each month, with the system for processing these run by volunteers.

Any official who had not completed the PVG process was classed as a provisional member and was not permitted to have unrestricted access to players.

Historical abuse in football

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said the "weak link in the chain" was what happened while coaches were waiting for the PVG check to come through.

Mr Little replied: "I would suggest that that's a risk."

He added: "As long as we have PVG checks outstanding, I am concerned."

The evidence session on child protection in sport follows allegations of historical abuse in football.

Police Scotland is investigating 130 reports of child sexual abuse in the sport.

A number of professional clubs have started internal investigations while the Scottish Football Association (SFA) is setting up an independent review.

Andrew McKinlay of the SFA said the review would also consider the PVG process at the SYFA and how it was run and funded.

He said: "We feel there is a lack of consistency potentially across the membership."

The Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme is managed through Disclosure Scotland.

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