Disclosure and Barring Service

A Disclosure is a document containing information about a person held by the police and government departments. It can be used by employers and voluntary organisations to make safer recruitment decisions. Disclosures are provided by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), an executive agency of the Home Office. By providing access to criminal records information, the DBS helps organisations to identify applicants who may be unsuitable for certain work, especially work involving contact with children or other vulnerable members of society.

Portability of Disclosures

Portability means the re-use of a DBS Disclosure obtained for a position in one organisation and later used for another position in another organization. This is a complicated issue which involves the assessment and balancing of risks and the Diocese strongly advises that portable disclosures are not accepted.

Renewal of Disclosures

In accordance with the House of Bishops’ ruling in 2008, the Diocese has adopted the policy that disclosures should be renewed every three years or on taking up a new post. Blemished Disclosures are reviewed regularly by the Diocesan Risk Assessment Group and a decision is taken in each case whether to apply for a new Disclosure.

Arrangements in the diocese

The Diocesan Board of Finance acts as the Umbrella Body for Disclosure applications for the Diocese in respect of all licensed ministers and lay posts. Enquiries should be directed in the first instance either to the Parish Disclosure Officer (see below) or to the Safeguarding team (01227 459401). 

The Parish Disclosure Officer (PDO)

The Parish Disclosure Officer is appointed by the PCC to liaise between the parish and the Diocesan Office regarding the administrative aspects of the Disclosure process. PDOs have very different responsibilities from those of Parish Child and Adult Protection Coordinators (see Section 4.3 of the Diocesan Child Protection Guidelines; Section 6:2 of the Diocesan Adult Protection Guidelines); however, in some parishes all positions are held by the same person. The PDO is provided with comprehensive information about the process of obtaining DBS Disclosures on behalf of parishes.


The PCC and the incumbent are responsible for ensuring that all those authorised to work with children, young people and the vulnerable are appropriately appointed, trained and supported; obtaining a Disclosure when appropriate is part of the recruitment process. Failure to do this could put children or vulnerable adults at risk; it could also compromise the parish’s insurance cover and damage the reputation of the wider church.

Disclosures in the parish – overview

When is a Disclosure needed?

Disclosures can be obtained by people applying to work with children and vulnerable adults, either in a paid capacity or as volunteers. The PCC and the incumbent need to determine which posts involve work with children and/or vulnerable adults require applicants for these posts to obtain a Disclosure. In making a decision about the need for a Disclosure, the PCC and incumbent need to take into account the nature and extent of the contact with children and the vulnerable which the position involves.

Levels of Disclosure

The Diocese of Canterbury only applies for Enhanced Disclosures.

Further assistance can be obtained if necessary from the Safeguarding Office.

Disclosures in the parish – specific issues

Blemished Disclosures (also known as ‘Positive’ Disclosures)

When a blemished Disclosure (i.e. one which contains information about a Caution or Conviction) is received, it is passed to the Diocesan Risk Assessment Group which, in consultation with the incumbent (or the Bishop in the case of licensed ministry posts), makes a professional risk assessment and then makes a recommendation to the incumbent/PCC, or the Bishop, about the suitability of the individual concerned for the post in question.


Because of the number of queries which have arisen, specific guidance is provided for PCCs to help them decide which individuals involved in bell ringing should be asked to obtain a DBS Disclosure.

The administrative process in the parish

The administrative process in the parish is carried out by Parish Disclosure Officers, who have been issued with detailed guidance.

Parish Policy Statement regarding recruitment, Disclosures and the security of Disclosure information

The parish should have agreed this policy statement and needs to monitor its implementation.

Further information and assistance for parishes

Parish Disclosure Officers should normally be able to advise incumbents and others about the administrative aspects of obtaining Disclosures and to assist applicants with completing application forms for Disclosures. For further help on these or any other matters regarding Disclosures, please contact the Safeguarding team (01227 459401), who are always happy to help. 

Key documents

Page last updated: Tuesday 2nd April 2024 3:40 PM
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