Safer recruitment of church officers and volunteers is an essential ingredient of good safeguarding in church settings. Congregations expect a worship setting to be a safe space and we know that those with ill intentions towards (in particular) children and young people will seek out settings where people are trusting and processes are weak.
Safer recruitment fulfils two important functions. It can identify at an early stage persons who should not be working with children, young people or vulnerable adults. It also sends a clear message to the wider community that should they attempt to do so, such people will be identified and prevented from taking on roles of trust.
The key policy and guidance document agreed by the House of Bishops is the Practice Guidance: Safer Recruitment.
We recommend that a leader in each parish has read the guidance document with its comprehensive role definitions and model forms. To support parishes however, we have extracted and edited the principle messages from the guidance into a pack for PCCs and Parish Safeguarding Officers. The Word documents are designed to be adapted for parish use by PSOs. The documents in the pack are:
- Appendix 1 to the Practice Guidance outlines the nine steps to take in safe recruitment. Breaking the process down in this way can make this key role of the PSO easier to understand and progress. If you are unfamiliar with these processes, start with this short guide
- A set of model forms for church organisations to adopt or adapt. These include models for a volunteer job role, an application form, a reference form, a model for recording an interview or discussion, and a letter of appointment.
- The Church of England Confidential Declaration form. This must be completed for all roles, whether or not the role requires a check with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). If a prospective leader or other volunteer declares a conviction, or any other involvement with a statutory agency that touches on children or vulnerable adults, the PSO must contact the DSA for a discussion. Please note that this is a new form revised for use from 2020 onward.
- Guidance on DBS checks. A check with the DBS is not a substitute for following the safer recruitment process (most people who have harmed children or vulnerable adults have not been reported, let alone convicted). It is however an important safeguard. The Church has published three summary overviews of eligibility for these checks:
- Activities that make a person eligible for an enhanced criminal record check
- Church of England roles where the activity is seen to be eligible for a criminal record check
- DBS eligibility – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Carlisle Diocese supports parishes and the Cathedral in undertaking these checks. For further advice and application forms contact Isabel Ford.