Vets given the option to voluntarily disclose criminal cautions, convictions and any other adverse findings that may affect their registration before a requirement to disclose such findings begins in 2014.
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is accepting disclosures from veterinary surgeons about any criminal cautions, convictions and adverse findings as part of a voluntary period before a requirement to disclose such findings begins in 2014.
Despite being introduced to its code of conduct (section 5.3) in 2012, the college has allowed a bedding-in period before enforcing the requirement that veterinary surgeons notify the college about criminal convictions and similar on registration and on an annual basis as part of their registration renewal each March.
From 2014, new registrants will have to disclose any findings that may affect registration (for example, those from university fitness to practise procedures).
Veterinary surgeons already on the register (including overseas and non-practising categories, as well as UK-practising) will only be required to disclose findings that have occurred since April 2006. Fixed penalty motoring offences are excluded.
The veterinary profession has fallen under the Notifiable Occupations Scheme since April 2006, which means serious convictions are already passed to the college from the police.
If a vet declares a criminal conviction, this will be initially considered by the registrar, and, if necessary, referred to the Preliminary Investigation Committee (PIC). In some cases, the matter will be referred on to the Disciplinary Committee (DC) to decide if the nature of the caution or conviction affects fitness to practise – in which case the usual sanctions of removal or suspension from the register could apply.
Eleanor Ferguson, head of professional conduct at the RCVS, said: “We hope, through this new requirement, to increase the public’s confidence in the veterinary profession, and to safeguard animal health and welfare. The move brings the veterinary profession into line with many others – including registered veterinary nurses, who have made such a disclosure since their register was introduced in 2007.”
The RCVS has launched a dedicated advice line to assist affected veterinary surgeons, on 07818 113 056, open Mondays to Fridays, from 11am to 4pm. Callers will speak to one of three RCVS solicitors who can advise on the process and the possible outcomes of disclosure. Alternatively, veterinary surgeons can contact email@example.com.
- Detailed information regarding the requirement, including examples of the kinds of convictions that may be referred to PIC, and a disclosure form, can be found on www.rcvs.org.uk/convictions.