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Steps to Safer Recruitment


Diocese, Parishes and Cathedral

(adapted from the Church of England’s Policy

Safer Recruitment Practice guidance 2015)


Finding and recruiting the right people to work with children and adults experiencing, or at risk of abuse or neglect can be difficult. What follows is a safer recruitment checklist to help make sure that dioceses and parishes recruit / appoint safely the most appropriate people as employees or volunteers.

It is a criminal offence for an individual who is barred from working with vulnerable groups to apply for a regulated activity role and it is a criminal offence for an organisation to appoint a barred person to a regulated activity role. 

  1. Be clear about who is responsible for appointments. While there will always be local variations, responsibility for appointing clergy and licensed or approved lay ministers normally rests with the Bishop. Responsibility for paid posts, in the diocesan office, usually with the Diocesan Secretary. In local Churches the responsibility for appointments and approval of paid officers and volunteers rests with the PCC. Responsibility for the recruitment process can be delegated but it is important that the person to whom it is delegated is capable, competent and trained in safer recruitment and is also able to keep personal matters


  1. Have a policy statement on the recruitment of ex-offenders. Applicants for paid and volunteer positions must be clear about how they will be treated if they are ex-offenders. The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) has published a sample policy statement on the recruitment of ex-offenders.


  1. Ensure that there are safeguarding policies in place. The Church of England has a range of national safeguarding policies4. The joint statement of safeguarding principles, which appears in all national safeguarding policies must be used in the recruitment process to ensure the applicant is aware of the safeguarding approach of the Church of England. 


  1. Job description or role. Have a clear job description or role, which sets out what tasks the applicant will do and what skills are required. The job description or job role will also say whether it is eligible for and requires a criminal records check, and if so the level of the check (e.g. basic check currently from Disclosure Scotland or standard / enhanced (with / without a check of the barred list) currently from the Disclosure and Barring Service (the “DBS”5). If it is a paid role this must be a formal job description / person specification. If it is a voluntary role, a simple job role may be used. See Model volunteer job role


  1. Application form / references. An application form will always be necessary in a paid role to assess the person’s suitability for the role. An application form will also be good practice when recruiting for a voluntary role Always ask for and take up references. Ask referees specifically about an individual’s suitability to work with vulnerable people. Ensure that you carefully examine application forms and references and make sure that the information that has been provided is consistent and the organisation is provided with a satisfactory explanation for any discrepancies and / or any gaps in an applicant’s personal history and / or career. If anything is unclear in the reference, contact the referee to clarify the position. See Model Application formModel reference request letter


  1. The Confidential Declaration. At the start of the process, where an individual is going to work or volunteer with vulnerable people, ask him / her to complete a ‘Confidential Declaration’ which, in broad summary, asks if there is any reason why he / she should not be working with children and adults experiencing, or at risk of abuse or neglect . It can also help to identify any issues that might need resolving at an early stage. Having a criminal record may not necessarily be a bar to working with children or adults experiencing, or at risk of abuse or neglect. The Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser is there to provide advice to the person responsible for the appointment and must be contacted if an applicant discloses any information in the Confidential Declaration. Should the applicant not wish to complete the Confidential Declaration, which is entirely his / her choice, the application must not proceed further and must be See Confidential Declaration Form If the applicant discloses any matter during the interview that relates to children and / or adults experiencing, or at risk of abuse or neglect and which may affect the applicant’s suitability for the role, then this must be referred to the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser for advice. See A model interview/discussion template. 


  1. Asking for a Criminal Record Check. If the person / chair of the interview panel conducting the interview / discussion is minded to recommend approval then the applicant must be asked to carry out an appropriate criminal record check. A list of roles which are eligible for enhanced criminal record checks are outlined in Church of England Roles eligible for an enhanced criminal record check .  Parishes and Cathedral are advised to sign up to the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service's (CCPAS) online criminal records check scheme run in partnership with the Peterborough Diocese.  Full details are here.  Special arrangements  apply to overseas applicants, (see Home Office advice).   Provided they are eligible, an enhanced criminal record check must always be required in relation to people sent abroad to work with     vulnerable groups (children or adults experiencing, or at risk of abuse or neglect) as part of the UK recruitment process. Should the applicant not wish to apply for a criminal record check, which is entirely his / her choice, the application must not proceed further and must be terminated.            


  1. Types of Record Check:  Basic criminal conviction checks are available from Disclosure Scotland, and can be applied for from anywhere in the United Kingdom. Everyone is eligible for a basic criminal conviction check, such checks only reveal unspent criminal conviction information. Standard checks are for those positions /roles that are listed in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 and will disclose both spent and unspent criminal conviction / caution etc. information. Enhanced checks (without barring information) include both spent and unspent conviction / caution etc. information but also any additional information which the local police consider relevant. Finally, an enhanced check (with barring information), includes all the information as listed for the enhanced check together with a check of the DBS barred lists in relation to children and/or vulnerable adults. Only enhanced checks, as administered by the DBS, (more commonly known as “Enhanced DBS Checks”) are appropriate for those individuals who will, in their work, have substantial contact with children and / or adults experiencing, or at risk of abuse or neglect.


  1. ApprovalThe decision to appoint to voluntary or paid work must be made only by those who have that responsibility, (see paragraph 1 above). The start date or appointment must not be confirmed until the relevant criminal record check is received and examined. While local practice may vary, most criminal record checks are received and examined by the “Lead Recruiter” in each Parish. Criminal record checks that are not clear (i.e. which contain information of, for instance, criminal convictions or cautions or additional information such as arrests) must always be referred to the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser for advice. See When a Criminal Records Disclosure is not clear.    All paid posts will receive a letter of appointment. It is also good practice for volunteers to receive a letter of appointment which can set out both an organisation’s commitment to its volunteers and what it hopes from its volunteers. Included with the appointment letter should be a copy of the “Statement of Safeguarding Principles” and a copy of the “What to do if…” guidance. ToolKit 8 - Item 4


  1. Induction:Employees or volunteers whose roles involve working with children and adults experiencing, or at risk of abuse or neglect must receive relevant safeguarding training from the Diocese after starting their role, regardless of previous experience. They must also attend regular updates every three years.


  1. Probationary / settling in Period. It is good practice to have a period of probation, (for instance, 6 months) for any paid role or a settling in period for volunteers when the volunteer and the organisation can see whether the volunteer is suited to the particular role. During these periods relevant training can be planned and support can be In addition, regular meetings with the supervisor can be organised to discuss any issues etc. that arise. For paid roles, at the end of the probationary period a person must be confirmed in his / her role in writing.


  1. Supervision and regular review. All paid posts will be subject to management, supervision and appraisal. For all volunteer posts, working with children and adults experiencing or at risk of abuse or neglect, it is good practice to ensure regular supervision and conduct a review regularly, as the role requires,(e.g. annually) so that volunteers feel supported and issues can be discussed and/or resolved.



1  There are two barring lists held by the DBS. One holds details of those barred from working with children and the other holds details of those barred from working with vulnerable adults.

DBS policy statement on the recruitment of ex-offenders  

3 The range of national safeguarding polices can be found here

Home Office advice on overseas applicants.