Safer Recruitment and the Disclosure and Barring Service

What is ‘Safer Recruitment’?

Safer recruitment is one of the core safeguarding principles to which the Church of England and, through its own adopted Safeguarding Policy, the Diocese of Exeter are committed:

“We will carefully select, support and train all those with any responsibility within the Church, in line with Safer Recruitment Principles, including the use of criminal records disclosures and barring schemes.”

‘Safer recruitment’ refers to the whole process of recruiting people to work as paid employees, office holders or volunteers to work with vulnerable members of the community, be they children, young people or adults. Safer recruitment practices should progress seamlessly into safer working practices that relate to how people in such positions operate once they are in post. The use of criminal records checks via the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is one important and often legally required element of safer recruitment but it is not the whole story. Good practice around confidential declarations, taking references, job descriptions, interviews and contracts / working agreements all come together to create a context in which the safeguarding of vulnerable people and the care of those who work with them are appropriately prioritized.

Safer Recruitment Practice Guidance 2016

If you have questions relating to safeguarding and safer recruitment (other than specifically to do with the DBS application process) please contact:

The Diocesan Safeguarding Team01392 345909/345910OrIf you are unable to access the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor or it is out of hours or the weekend you can contact the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service helpline. Please ensure that clearly state that you are calling from the Exeter Diocese when using this facility.0845 120 4550


What is the Disclosure and Barring Service?

In December 2012 the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) were merged into the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is the government agency through which checks can be made to ensure the suitability of people to hold posts, particularly where they will have sole responsibility for children and young people or where certain specified services will be provided to adults (what is called ‘regulated activity’). In addition, it has the power to take decisions on whether to bar a person from undertaking ‘regulated activity’. Enhanced Disclosures are available with or without a ‘barred list’ check for work with children and/or adults where the activity involved meets the relevant criteria.

More information regarding the DBS can be found online – helpful information for parishes and employers – the home page of the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service – the home page of the Churches Agency for Safeguarding

Overview of how to access the Disclosure and Barring Service

Until September 2014, the Diocese of Exeter acted as an ‘umbrella body’, enabling parishes to access criminal records checks through the DBS. This arrangement was brought to a conclusion because of safeguarding risks arising from the Protection of Freedoms Act 2013 relating to the move to only a single copy of the Disclosure being issued to the applicant and no copy being sent to the umbrella body. The application process is now carried out on-line and is managed on behalf of the Diocese by the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service.

Before parishes can start using the new e-bulk service, their nominated identity checker (who should have basic computer skills as well as convenient access to the internet) needs to register with the CCPAS. Having done so, the person authorised to carry out the identity check will be sent information and guidance on how the system operates. In order to register, please complete and sign the CCPAS-Diocese of Exeter DBS Verifier Registration Form, have it authorised by the parish priest (or, in the case of a vacancy the PCC Secretary or Churchwarden acting on behalf of the PCC) and send it by post to:

Phill Parker
Diocesan DBS Coordinator
The Old Deanery
The Cloisters
Cathedral Close

The Diocese subscribes to the  DBS Code of Practice. Before requiring a volunteer or employee to apply for a Disclosure via CCPAS, PCCs should make a formally minuted decision to observe the DBS Code of Practice.

Parishes are responsible for paying the application fee relating to employees as required by the DBS (or they may require an employee to pay the fee him/herself); no such fee is payable for volunteers. Cheques payable to EDBF should be sent with other necessary information to diocesan contacts (see below), who won’t proceed to authorize the application without having first received the relevant payment. The administration fee payable to CCPAS for all employee and volunteer applications is paid by the Diocese.

From the point of view of the parish and the applicant there are two main advantages to the new system:

1. The e-bulk application process is typically much quicker than the postal version. We expect response times from the DBS to reduce markedly. The system is also more secure, with no chance of applications or certificates being ‘lost in the post’.

2. There is far less chance of making an inadvertent mistake in completing the electronic application form (not least because any process errors should show up on the screen and the applicant will not be allowed to proceed until they have been resolved). The number of applications being returned for clarification by the DBS will reduce to almost zero.

From the point of view of the Diocese, the e-bulk system removes the safeguarding risk because even though we are not notified of the detailed content of the certificate, we do receive notice of the existence on a certificate of information having been recorded. We therefore are in a position to follow up all such information without having to chase every single certificate, the vast majority of which are entirely ‘clear’.

How Does the Application Process Work?

The on-line DBS application process allows the applicant, at the invitation of the PCC to complete an on-line form and have their identity checked in their own parish in the same way as now. The checker will confirm the applicant’s identity on the on-line form and will submit it to their diocesan contact (for details, see below) who will then sign it off and submit it to CCPAS. If the applicant is unable to complete an on-line form for him or herself, he or she can ask for assistance from the parish representative or diocesan contact. More detailed information on how the process will work is issued to parishes by CCPAS once the parish registration process has been completed.  The advice to applicants on completing the process can be found here: E-Bulk Guide for DBS Applicants.

For evidence verifiers registered with CCPAS and the Diocese of Exeter, advice on completing the process and guidance on eligibility of applicants can be found here: E-Bulk Guide for Diocese of Exeter DBS Verifiers. For a simplified overview of the DBS verification process in parishes in the Diocese, please refer to the DBS Parish Verifier Process Flowchart.

The diocesan office keeps an electronic record of all the applications and disclosures that are issued through CCPAS and the Diocese of Exeter.

Diocesan contacts:

DBS Co-ordinator

Phill Parker
The Old Deanery, The Cloisters, Cathedral Close, Exeter, EX1 1HS
Tel: 01392 294969

Parish Appointments:

Archdeaconry of Exeter (Paid/Clergy checks only):

Peter Colebrook

Email Peter

Archdeacon of Exeter’s Office, Emmanuel House, Station Road, Ide, Exeter  EX2 9RS

Tel: 01392 425577

Archdeaconries of Barnstaple (All checks) and Exeter (Volunteer checks only):

Jacque Ward

Email Jacque

Archdeacon of Barnstaple’s Office, Stage Cross, Sanders Lane, Bishop’s Tawton, Barnstaple  EX32 0BE

Tel: 01271 375475

Archdeaconry of Plymouth

Bev Smerdon

Email Bev

Archdeacon of Plymouth’s Office, St Mark’s Church, 1 Sanctuary Close, Plymouth  PL2 1EN

Tel: 01752 202401

Archdeaconry of Totnes

Chris Brathwaite

Email Chris

Archdeacon of Totnes’ Office, Blue Hills, Bradley Road, Bovey Tracey, Newton Abbot TQ13 9EU

Tel: 01626 832064

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