by Chris Mew

At the end of May the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) issued a notice of new arrangements for certification of workers and volunteers involved with children and vulnerable adults. The first of the changes stems from an Appeal Court judgement earlier in the year regarding the filtering of old and minor convictions. New guidelines on disclosure will mean that certain convictions or cautions will be removed from a DBS criminal record certificate where they fulfil the following criteria:

Over 18 at time of offence – after 11 years provided it is the only conviction, was non-custodial or, for a caution, after 6 years.

Under 18 at time of offence – after 5 and half years (non-custodial conviction), after 2 years for a caution.

However, where a conviction or caution is listed as being relevant to safeguarding then those records will never be removed. The list of such specified offences runs to over 750 categories and includes sexual, drugs and violence areas.

The removal of some minor records, such as motoring offences, will hopefully dispel some individual’s reluctance to be checked because of perhaps youthful and embarrassing misdemeanours. In this respect applicants for DBS certificates will not have to declare old spent records. On the other hand the retention of relevant records permanently will give reassurance to those vetting new employees and volunteers. The new arrangement will be implemented on new certificates with effect from 29th May 2013.

The second development is that with effect from 17th June 2013 all new applications for a DBS certificate (including renewals) will be eligible to have the applicant register for a new Update Service. Anyone applying to use the Update Service will pay £13 per year (free for volunteers) and their records will be continually updated.

The change will mean that prospective employers/volunteer managers will be able to request sight of an existing certificate and check on-line whether there are any changes. This will effectively be a step forward towards portability of certificates for similar activities and will in the longer term reduce the need for numerous certificates and applications.

Along with this change, new certificates will only be issued direct to the named applicant and the Registered Body processing the application (such as a Diocesan Office) will no longer receive their own copy. The initial issue to the applicant will mean that any discrepancies can be challenged before the document goes public. The change will mean that organisations will need to request sight of the Certificate and they will be aware of security checks to validate that such certificates are genuine and have not been altered.

There are no changes at present to the arrangements in Scotland where the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme applies.

This is my last note as a member of the Tower Stewardship Committee from which I have stood down. Whilst I am always willing to give advice, queries should now be channelled to the Chairman, Christopher O’Mahony.


BB BellBoard
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers