Living God's Love Values - Generosity, Joy, Imagination and Courage
Living God's Love Values - Generosity, Joy, Imagination and Courage

Safeguarding FAQs

1. To whom does the Safer Recruitment & People Management Guidance apply?

The requirements in the Guidance must be followed for the appointment of all roles within a Church body that involve substantial contact with children and/or vulnerable adults. This includes senior clergy as well as parish priests and all those in other roles, whether paid or voluntary. With such a variety of roles across the Church of England, the wording of the Requirements may not fit exactly in relation to a particular role, but the principles should always be made to apply.

2. How do I assess whether a role is eligible for an enhanced DBS with/without barred list check?

The document from the Church of England and the document from 31:8 (page 30 onwards) lists various positions that may be eligible for an enhanced DBS with/without barred list check.

However, it must be noted that the lists are indicative and not exhaustive due to the complexity of the Church of England and local variations in approaches, titles and roles (e.g. the same role can be termed differently in another diocese or parish). Therefore, to establish whether a role is eligible for any form of enhanced DBS check, a Church body must carry out their own analysis and assess the specific nature of the duties being carried out.

Broadly speaking, you need to consider the following:

Is it an unsupervised role that teaches, trains, instructs, care for or supervises children or provides advice/guidance on physical, emotional or educational well-being to children on a frequent (once a week or more), intensive (4 days or more in any 30 day period) or overnight basis (between 2am-6am)?

If yes, then the individual is engaged in “regulated activity” and would be eligible for an enhanced DBS check with barring information in relation to children.

If the individual is carrying out the activities but does not satisfy the frequency test or period condition and/or are supervised, then they will be eligible for an enhanced DBS check but without barring information in relation to children.

Is it a role that means the individual is carrying out one of the 6 categories of activity (i.e. health care, personal care, social work, assisting with cash, bills or shopping, assistance with affairs {e.g. under a Lasting Power of Attorney} or transportation)?

If no, then it is not “regulated activity” and there is no eligibility for an enhanced DBS check with barring information in relation to adults.

If the individual provides training, teaching, instruction, assistance, advice or guidance to an adult who receives a health or social care service (e.g. is in a care home or receives any form of care or assistance due to age, illness or disability) or a “specified activity” (e.g. in prison), on either a frequent (once a week or more), intensive (4 days or more in any 30 day period) or overnight (between 2am-6am) basis, then they will be eligible for an enhanced DBS check but without barring information in relation to adults.

Please note this is only a broad summary.

If you have a query on the eligibility for a particular role, then 31:8 provide an advice service to those who are Lead Recruiters or Recruiters and should be contacted in the first instance. They can be contacted on 0303 003 1111 or at

Further advice can also be found here which includes a DBS Eligibility Tool.

The DBS also provides a customer service helpline, details of which can be found here: Disclosure and Barring Service – GOV.UK (

They also have a regional outreach service that Church bodies can access:
The DBS Regional Outreach service – GOV.UK (
IMPORTANT: If a role does not meet the criteria for any form of enhanced DBS Check that does not mean the other principles of safer recruitment cannot be applied.

3. Can we carry out Basic checks?

In June 2018, St Albans Diocese accepted the new online service offered of Basic Disclosure by Thirtyone:eight (formerly CCPAS). This service means a parish can now process a basic check (the legislation is termed “criminal conviction certificates) for any worker who is not otherwise eligible for an enhanced DBS check.

A Basic Disclosure involves a search of the Police National Computer for details of all current convictions. The disclosure will contain details of convictions and conditional cautions that are considered to be unspent under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

Anyone can apply for a Basic Disclosure as long as they live or work in the UK.

Please remember – a Basic Disclosure is not an alternative to an enhanced DBS check and if a position is eligible for an enhanced DBS check then an enhanced DBS check MUST be used.

There is a cost implication. Basic Disclosures are charged at the fee set by the DBS of £25 per check plus £5 standard processing fee from Thirtyone:eight plus 50p VAT. The fee is the same whether the applicant is a paid worker or volunteer.

Basic Disclosures are available for anyone, in any role within the church.

It is sometimes the case that we think a particular role should attract a DBS check but it is in fact ineligible and falls outside the criteria required. (Sometimes enhanced DBS applications are refused as the eligibility criteria are not quite met)

The Diocese advise that the following three points should be considered in determining whether a role should attract a Basic Disclosure check as part of Safer Recruitment. Please note that it is important to consider the activities that a role requires, as these may differ, even for a role with the same title in a different parish. It should be considered whether:

  • The role implies a close level of trust placed in them by the church, or
  • The role requires a close working relationship with children or young people, albeit only occasionally, or
  • The role requires a close working relationship with vulnerable adults, albeit only occasionally

Example roles which may fall within the above criteria are:

  • Vergers
  • Pastoral visitors

Further examples which may be included depending on their activities in your parish:

  • Lay Leaders of Worship
  • Spiritual Directors
  • Drivers
  • Servers

The list is not exhaustive and it is for a parish to decide whether a particular role within the parish meets any of the above points.

For example:

  • Do your pastoral visitors visit vulnerable adults and are they unsupervised in doing so?
  • Do you arrange for volunteers to help out and drive vulnerable adults to church occasionally?
  • Would the role of Lay leader of Worship indicate a close level of trust in your parish?

As with any DBS check, individuals are to made aware of this at the start of any application process. It should not be forgotten that basic DBS checks reveal unspent criminal conviction information only and therefore, their usefulness is relatively limited.

The Church of England Confidential Declaration form cannot be used for roles which are only eligible for basic DBS checks This is because, as already noted, basic checks only reveal unspent criminal conviction information, and you cannot request information about “spent” convictions. A revised confidential declaration form would need to be used in this situation, for which legal advice would be required as well as advice from the data protection lead.

4. Does a Confidential Declaration Form (CDF) need to be completed every time a DBS check is carried out?

There is no obligation (legal or policy) for a new CDF to be completed each time a new DBS is applied for or the DBS Update service accessed.

From a good practice point of view, it can make some sense to renew a CDF at the same time as a DBS renewal because you would then have a contemporaneous DBS Check and CDF.

5. When should a Confidential Declaration Form (CDF) be completed as part of the recruitment process?

Essentially, this is about using personal data appropriately and following the principles of data protection. There is nothing in legislation preventing you from requiring completion of the CDF at an early stage provided you have sufficient justification/legitimate purpose for requesting such information at the outset of the recruitment process. It is also important that you have been transparent with applicants so that they are fully aware of your policy/procedure.

The CDF is about obtaining information from individuals who are going to work in roles where they will be working with the vulnerable, so this can be discussed at interview and if necessary, risk assessed. It gives the candidate an opportunity to explain, so that ex-offenders are not necessarily automatically excluded from roles.

There may be some sense from an administrative point of view in not asking candidates to fill out the CDF until they are shortlisted for interview ie. less paperwork. From a safeguarding perspective requesting the information at that point should not generate any more risk to vulnerable people. However, you could have a candidate that you don’t shortlist as a result of their responses on the CDF because that candidate is completely inappropriate from a safeguarding perspective. You need to be clear with candidates that this can happen and of course, give candidates an opportunity to explain.

Additionally, if you only request CDFs to be completed by shortlisted candidates, or even later in the process, then you may have a situation where a candidate is applying for a “regulated activity” (as defined under the Safeguarding and Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (as amended)) role and they are barred from that activity by the DBS. If you didn’t ask the candidate to complete the CDF until after they were shortlisted for interview – or later – you would not know that they were barred until you had called them for interview. If a person is barred you would not be interviewing/shortlisting the person for a “regulated activity” role. Indeed, it would be a criminal offence to employ such a person in “regulated activity”, (it would also be a criminal offence for him/her to apply). By asking candidates to complete a CDF earlier in the process you avoid such an eventuality arising.

Essentially then, the key element here is transparency. Be open and up front with your applicants and ensure that you have a legitimate purpose for collecting information. Make it clear to all applicants what information will be sought and how you will use that information in your decision-making process, including the opportunity for candidates to explain. You need to have a retention policy about storing the information, (whether a candidate is successful or not).[Link to Safeguarding Records Retention document pending]

6. Do PCC members and Churchwardens need DBS checks?

Where a PCC sponsors and approves, in its own name, children’s work or work with vulnerable adults (e.g. a Youth Club, Sunday school, home visiting scheme for the housebound or a luncheon club for adults with special needs who require assistance with feeding or toileting), all PCC members should complete a DBS check.

The need for a check does not apply to all PCCs, only those that sponsor and approve either children’s work or work with vulnerable adults.

The trustees do not have to be involved directly with the activity or activities, they are being checked because of the work of the charity

The appropriate check in each case would be an enhanced check without barring information.

National guidance says that the decision about which members on a PCC should be checked is left to local determination. The local determination is a diocesan one.
St Albans Diocese have directed that all PCC members who are eligible should have a DBS check and when a PCC undertakes the activities set out above, all members are eligible for a check.

This is in the best interests of safeguarding, is good practice and has already identified individuals who have relevant previous convictions and information of concern held against them which was otherwise unknown.

Our direction is backed up by the Charities Commission who recommend “whenever there is a legal entitlement to obtain a DBS check in respect of such a trustee, a check should be carried out”.

ThirtyOne:Eight are aware of our direction and will support such applications.

This direction applies to all PCCs whether they are a registered charity or not. PCCs are charities although not all are registered but rather ‘exempt’ charities, but they are charities nonetheless, and the PCC members are charity trustees.

Churchwardens are ex officio members of the PCC, so where the PCC qualifies as a children’s or vulnerable adult’s charity then the churchwardens, along with all other members of the PCC as trustees of a children’s or vulnerable adult’s charity, would be eligible for an enhanced DBS check without barred list check.

It should be noted that there is no legal obligation on charities to require their trustees to apply for DBS checks – the Charity Commission recommends that they do so. Therefore, neither the diocese nor the incumbent has any legal power to require a PCC member to apply for a DBS check and a person who is elected to a PCC under the Church Representation Rules (and who is not disqualified), or who is chosen as a churchwarden under the Churchwardens Measure 2001 (and is not disqualified), is a member of the PCC and cannot be removed for refusing to apply for a DBS check.
Appropriate checks should be carried out after the relevant individual is elected to his/her post. Where relevant, and this will be for most individuals, it should be made clear to all nominees prior to any election that if elected appropriate checks will be carried out. If it is discovered after the election that an individual is barred or has committed an offence under Schedule 1 Children and Young Persons Act 1933, consideration can then be given by the diocese to what action to take in consequence. That might mean that the person is disqualified so his/her seat will be vacated but it could also mean, that the Bishop considers using his/her waiver (after seeking advice), if not barred but has committed an offence contained in the 1933 Act.

7. What about DBS checks on volunteer ‘young helpers’?

DBS checks cannot be carried out on anyone under the age of 16. Whilst that is only one aspect of safer recruitment, obviously this would prevent anyone under the age of 16 from performing a role where a DBS check was requested.

Those individuals who are under 16 years of age could be helping/shadowing/acting as an additional team member but must always be supervised by someone who has been safely recruited.

Those in the 16/17 age bracket can have a DBS check and therefore could engage in a role that requests such a check – whether this is felt to be appropriate is a matter of local determination, as possible scenarios will vary from setting to setting. If 16/17 year olds are permitted to volunteer in such roles then it is expected that the Safer Recruitment & People Management policy applies to them in the same way as it would be for any other individual carrying out such a role.

All volunteers engaging in children’s/vulnerable adult’s work must undertake the relevant Church of England safeguarding training and commit to adhering to the relevant policies. Where under 16s are involved, the Church body must satisfy itself that the individual is capable of undertaking safeguarding training, which does include descriptions of types of abuse, reporting procedures and advice on physical contact etc.

All of the above must be considered against the backdrop of the under 18 volunteer/worker being considered a vulnerable person themselves in the context of safeguarding.

8. Are adult choir members in any Church Body eligible for enhanced DBS (with/without Barred List) check?

No, simply being an adult member of a choir where children are present does not meet the criteria for an enhanced DBS (with/without Barred List) check. Such individuals would be eligible for a basic DBS check which would reveal unspent criminal conviction information only.

The exception to this would be if the member’s role includes responsibility for teaching, training, caring for or supervising vulnerable groups (children or adults).

9. When and how does the Guidance change from 5 yearly enhanced DBS rechecks to 3 yearly rechecks take effect?

From 4th January 2022:
a.) all new appointments and
b.) those whose enhanced DBS is due a recheck from that point onwards
should have their DBS recheck carried out and then be put on the new 3 year recheck cycle.

By 4th January 2022:
Church Bodies must have assessed all other individuals who do not fall into the two categories a & b above, but whose DBS is more than 3 years old and put a plan in place to ensure that all those individuals have a DBS no older than 3 years by 3rd January 2024 and after that, ensure they are also on the new 3 year recheck cycle.

This means all Church Bodies have a 2 year period from 4th January 2022 to 3rd January 2024 to carry out the rechecks needed.

By 3rd January 2024 all those requiring enhanced DBS (with/without Barred List) checks have a DBS certificate that is 3 years or less and will be on a 3 yearly re-check cycle.

10. Is my current DBS certificate transferable (portable)?

Portability is the term employed for using a criminal record check obtained in one role, for a new role.
Portability of a DBS certificate will apply unless:

  1. A person is moving into a role in the Church of England from an organisation outside it e.g. a volunteer with Scope wants to volunteer in the church, or a youth worker, working in a local authority, applies for a role in the Church: or
  2. An individual is seeking ordination, reader or lay ministry training; or
  3. A person changes jobs or roles and moves from one organisation in the Church to another e.g. moves to a new diocese or cathedral; or
  4. A person moves roles to work with a different workforce e.g. changing from working with children to working with adults and vice versa; or
  5. The level of check required changes to a higher level

11. Can I use the DBS Update Service?

The update Service can make a DBS certificate become more flexible and allows greater portability.

Although it provides flexibility, the Update Service can only be used if the workforce and level of check are the same.

If the level of check and workforce remains the same for the role, the update service status check is the simplest mechanism to use and highly recommended. If the status check.

It must not be forgotten that only a tiny percentage of those who abuse are caught and still fewer are convicted, so organisations must never rely solely on a criminal record (DBS) check. Criminal record checks, although crucial, remain only one element of safeguarding and the safer recruitment process.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  • Going Deeper into God
  • Making New Disciples
  • Transforming Communities