Criminal record checks

Changes to Criminal Record Checks for ministers

In November 2018 Mission Council approved the principles set out in the Safeguarding Advisory Group Paper R3 for shaping a new code of practice around vetting, disclosure and barring checks and safer recruitment procedures.

The new code of practice states:

Section 11 
Certain General Assembly appointees and others undertaking roles for the denomination, including ministers, will be deemed to be engaging in ‘Regulated Activity’ and therefore require a criminal record check prior to undertaking such work. 
Section 16
DBS checks for all roles and positions of the URC must be renewed every five years.

From 1 January 2019 Criminal Record checks are not requested when a minister changes pastorate or position. This was agreed by the Safeguarding Advisory Group meeting on 7 November 2018.

Criminal Record checks will be carried out for all roles and positions in the URC every five years and carried out prior to the start of training and prior to ordination / commissioning.

For Ministers in Stipendiary service a ‘home base’ check will be carried out which includes checking the background of other individuals aged over 18 living in the manse.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for ministers and Assembly Accredited Lay Preachers (AALP) serving in England and Wales

From 12 July 2019 the Ministries Office will be using Due Diligence Checking (DDC) as our umbrella body for disclosure checks for ministers and assembly accredited lay preachers. DDC offer an on-line service which is far quicker than our current paper application process handled by the Ministries Office and is a secure method of application. Paper applications will still be available, but we envisage that the majority of our checks will be completed online. DBS checks should be renewed every five years.

New Procedure for DBS Checks

Online

  1. The ministries office will send the minister or AALP a notification that their DBS is due for renewal via email and notify DDC.
  2. DDC will contact the minister or AALP with their logon and password to their system.
  3. The minister or AALP will be asked to enter their details online, making any payments where required and nominating the documents the minister or AALP want to use, that meet the DBS requirements for checking identity. The online application will ask the minister or AALP to contact the Ministries office to nominate their document checker.
    Note: Document checkers for ministers and AALP can only be ACTIVE URC ministers.
  4. The minister or AALP will contact an active URC minister to make arrangements for their identity documents to be checked and contact the ministries office with the minister’s name (permission should be sought first) and the ministries office will add that person as a document checker. DDC will send them their own login and password.
  5. The minister or AALP will make arrangements for their identity documents to be checked.
  6. The document checker will go on line, confirm the minister or AALP identity documents and submit the minister or AALP application to DDC.
  7. DDC will then countersign the application and submit it to DBS
  8. The minister or AALP will receive their disclosure certificate direct from Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Please checked it and if you are not completely satisfied that it shows the correct information contact DBS here. The minister or AALP will normally no longer need to send their original disclosure in to the ministries office as we will be notified by DDC of the minister or AALP ‘clear’ disclosure information by email.
  9. If a Certificate is issued that contains information that needs to be reviewed by the United Reformed Church, a notification will be sent to the United Reformed Church Safeguarding Office. A process will then be initiated to collect the Certificate from the minister or AALP, review the contents and undertake a risk assessment. Once this has been completed an automated email will be sent to the Ministries officer to confirm that the minister or AALP can begin their role with the church. If the minister or AALP cannot be cleared to work in the role, or specific conditions are required, the Ministries office will be notified.


Paper

Paper applications are still available and if the ministries office does not have an email address for the minister or AALP we will request DDC to send the minister or AALP a paper application pack.

  1. The application form should be completed, and contact made with an active minister to make arrangements for the minister or AALP identity documents to be checked.
  2. The minister or AALP will contact the ministries office with the minister’s name (please ask their permission first) and the ministries office will add that person as a document checker.
  3. Copies will need to be made of the minister or AALP identity documents, which are checked by the document checker (who also completes a form) and the entire pack returned to DDC.
  4. The minister or AALP will receive their disclosure certificate direct from Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Please checked it and if you are not completely satisfied that it shows the correct information contact DBS here. The minister or AALP will normally no longer need to send their original disclosure in to the ministries office as we will be notified by DDC of the minister or AALP ‘clear’ disclosure information by email.

 

Online Update Service

The United Reformed Church are unable to use the Online Update Service for stipendiary ministers

Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) membership for ministers serving in Scotland

Disclosure Scotland do not yet have an online submission facility for PVG checks so ministers in Scotland will still continue to use the paper based process of application. Church House will submit an application for ministers to ensure that the URC ‘register an interest’ in that minister. This means that should that minister become ‘considered for barring’ in the future, Church House would be notified by Disclosure Scotland.

Procedure

  1. The Ministries office will send the minister or AALP a notification that their DBS is due for renewal via email and notify DDC.
  2. DDC will post to the minister the correct paper application form.

An application to join the PVG Scheme – this form is used if the minister has never joined the PVG Scheme and does not have any kind of PVG Scheme membership number. This application form will result in a Scheme Record being issued to the minister as their record of the check results. This application will also register Church House interest in the minister should they become ‘considered for barring’ in the future.


An existing PVG Scheme Member application – this form is used by a minister that has already applied for a PVG Scheme Membership Statement or Record. The results of this check will indicate if anything on the previously issued Scheme Record has been added.

3. The minister should complete the application form and take it with a minimum of 3 forms of identity to an Active URC minister (verifier) for completion of the process. The appropriate forms of proof of identity are listed in the guidance notes in the application pack.

4. Return the completed application pack in the addressed envelope provided to DDC and include

Completed and signed application form

Photocopies of the original identity documents

Completed and signed Verifer Identity Document Check Sheet to DDC

PLEASE NOTE: Remember to pay the postage for the return envelope.

5. DDC will process the application form and check the details of the identity documents match the information on the form. DDC will then countersign the application and send it to Disclosure Scotland. 

6. When the Scheme Record or Scheme Update is issued, Disclosure Scotland will send a paper copy to the minister’s home address and will also send DDC a copy. DDC will let you know via email when they receive this (if a contact email address has been provided). DDC will also let the Ministries office know via email and send their copy of the Scheme Record or Scheme Update.

Disclosure Checks for Assembly Accredited Lay Preachers in Scotland

Assembly Accredited Lay Preachers in Scotland are not eligible to join the PVG Scheme
Church house will send you a Self Declaration Form which you must complete, sign and return to the Ministries Office.