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  • Safeguarding vunerable people and children

Safeguarding the vulnerable

The role of the church involves reaching out – which includes reaching out to children and vulnerable adults.  Protecting the most vulnerable people in our communities from abuse is a vitally important duty for everyone and for churches, it is paramount.

The Department of Health defines abuse as a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person or persons.  Abuse can happen in many different places and it can take many different forms – and anyone can be an abuser.  In fact, it is often someone who is known and trusted.

If your church members or people involved in running activities associated with your church are likely to come into contact with children or vulnerable adults, it is essential that you have ensured you have taken every reasonable precaution, which includes a criminal record check which has to be carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

Methodist Insurance Survey Manager Kevin Thomas says:  “You may feel that having a criminal record check on someone who is carrying out a valuable role, either on a paid or voluntary basis, shows a lack of trust.  However, there is a duty of care to ensure that vulnerable people and children are offered the best levels of protection.  Churches have also to consider the reputational damage that could be done to them, and the impact on the community as a whole, if there is a case of abuse, so checks are absolutely essential.”

  • The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

    The DBS is an executive agency of the Home Office that provides access to criminal records and other relevant information to organisations in England and Wales. The results of the checks carried out by the DBS can help your church to ensure that you make informed decisions when allowing people to work with children and vulnerable persons.

    Checks cannot be obtained by individual members of the public and are only available to organisations, such as churches, in respect of certain roles. If you do request a DBS check on someone, that person must be told why they check is taking place and where they can get independent advice. All require a fee, unless they are for someone undertaking a purely voluntary role.

    Four types of check are available from the DBS and are selected on the basis of particular role that the individual will be carrying out. Through the Disclosure service, your church can ensure greater protection for the vulnerable members of our society and, ultimately, afford greater protection to your church, its workers and volunteers and its congregation.

    Further information on the DBS can be found here.

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