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Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service (CSAS)Procedures Manual

Disclosure Outcomes and Assessment Including Blemished/Positive Disclosure Process and Assessing Relevancy of Criminal Records

Contents

  1. Disclosure Results
  2. Blemished Safeguarding Self Declaration and/or Blemished or Positive Disclosure Assessment Process
  3. Destruction of Disclosure Certificates in all cases
  4. Assessing Relevancy of Criminal Records

1. Disclosure Results

It is a fundamental principle of the Catholic Church of England and Wales that decisions regarding suitability to work with vulnerable groups are made at Safeguarding Office level and NOT at local level. This is to ensure that there is clear and consistent decision making regarding assessing suitability.

Once the Disclosure Application is processed by the DBS, a copy of the Disclosure is sent to the applicant directly from the DBS. The Safeguarding Office/Counter-Signatory receive the original Disclosure Certificate from the individual. Please refer to the Guidance written for applicants to notify them of the Single Certificate, see Catholic Church Guidance for Disclosure Applicants.

For this reason it is recommended that Safeguarding Offices utilise the Online Tracking System to identify if and when the Disclosure Certificate has been despatched to the applicant. This will also enable Safeguarding Offices to pursue non-receipt of Disclosures from individuals where necessary.

Until such time that the DBS release a new version of the Online Tracking system, which will enable Registered Bodies and Employers to establish if a) the Disclosure has been released and b) if the Disclosure contained content or not the following procedure in respect of the "Applicant Only" or "Single Certificate" is to be followed.

*Please note that due to the introduction of the "Single Certificate" the DBS expect that organisations ensure that the individual who presents themselves to work after their Disclosure has been despatched and verified by appropriate personnel, is indeed the same person seen throughout the pre-appointment process. The new Disclosure results process integrates key stages to address this requirement.

  1. The Disclosure certificate, in all cases, must be sent by the individual to the respective Safeguarding Office who counter-signed the Disclosure application;
  2. It is for the individual to decide the means by which they will send their original Disclosure to the Safeguarding Office although some means of trackable post is recommended as copies cannot be obtained from the DBS if the original is lost;
  3. The procedure below is equally relevant in circumstances where a person has subscribed to the Online Update Service and advises they have a pre-existing Disclosure which is relevant to the role in the Church for which they are applying. In these cases it is imperative that the level of the Disclosure, i.e. Enhanced; the workforce and the relevant Barred List check is accurate to the role for which they are now applying. If this is not the case a new Disclosure application must be made. Further details regarding the Online Update Service can be found at Catholic Church Guide for Individuals Regarding the Online Update Service.

If the Disclosure Certificate is "clear" (meaning it contains NO conviction information):

  1. The Safeguarding Office or CSAS Counter-Signatory office notifies the relevant Safeguarding Representative of the clear Disclosure and records the Disclosure number and date of issue on the National DBS Database;
  2. PLEASE NOTE that is must be clearly communicated and known by all Reps that the individual CANNOT be appointed to post until they receive notification to do so from the relevant Safeguarding office;
  3. The Parish Rep, nominated Religious person or relevant person (for example Care Home Manager) MUST ensure that the individual who presents themselves to take up their role is the same person who underwent the pre-appointment process.

In the event that the Disclosure Certificate is "blemished" (meaning it contains conviction information):

  1. The Safeguarding Co-ordinator must arrange to meet the individual in person and at that face to face meeting revalidate their identity to the ID documents presented at the time the Disclosure Application was verified by the relevant Rep;*
  2. Once the Safeguarding Co-ordinator has assessed the relevancy of the conviction information and made their determination, they notify the Rep regarding whether the individual can be appointed or not and record the Disclosure number and date of issue on the National DBS Database;
  3. If the person can be appointed, as advised by the Safeguarding Office, nominated Religious person, the Parish Rep or relevant person (for example Care Home Manager) MUST ensure that the individual who presents themselves to take up their role is the same person who underwent the pre-appointment process.

A flowchart to help illustrate the Disclosure results process, please see the flowchart.

The National Policy of the Catholic Church of England & Wales requires that the individual provide their original Certificate to their Safeguarding Office within 28 days from the date of issue stated on the Certificate. Failure for the Disclosure to be presented/submitted to the Counter-Signatory within this timeframe will require that a new Disclosure Application be completed as the accuracy of the former Disclosure will not be assured after 28 days.

Returning the original Disclosure Certificate to the applicant:

The Safeguarding Offices will return the original Certificate to the applicant by Signed For post OR alternatively where a number of applications have been submitted via the same parish or establishment (i.e. a Care Home); the Certificates will be placed inside separate, addressed and sealed envelopes and sent via secure post to the Parish Representative or relevant person/recruiting person who will then pass the sealed envelopes onto each individual.

The Counter-Signatory in the Safeguarding Office will then inform the person responsible for the appointment at local level of the decision to appoint or refuse appointment and will NOT normally disclose the reason for the decision.

However in the case of Clergy, Religious and employees, provided that the person with ultimate responsibility for the appointment (Bishop, Congregation Leader or line manager) is aware of and abides by the CSAS Safer Recruitment Policy and DBS Code of Practice, the contents of the Disclosure can be revealed to them alone. They must NOT reveal the information to other members of the selection process, or to Management Boards, Boards of Trustees etc.

With regards to Religious, the authorised Counter-Signatories will then inform the person responsible for the appointment at local level of the outcome of the Disclosure. The Safeguarding Rep; Co-ordinator or appropriate contact within the Safeguarding Offices or CSAS can then be contacted to discuss the implications of any content on the Disclosure. This same process can be used for content on the Safeguarding Self Declaration. CSAS is also available should guidance be needed concerning information self-disclosed or stated on the Disclosure Certificate.

There may be circumstances where a recipient of Disclosure information is asked to reveal details of a Disclosure to a third party in connection with legal proceedings i.e. in a case submitted to an Employment Tribunal. In such instances, the recipient of Disclosure information should inform the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) of any such request immediately and prior to the release of any information. (DBS Code of Practice requirement).

2. Blemished Safeguarding Self Declaration and/or Blemished or Positive Disclosure Assessment Process

  • It is important to remember that any content voluntarily revealed by an individual on the Safeguarding Self Declaration form may be very personal. That information therefore should be handled with sensitivity and consideration for the individual who made the revelation. In the event that you are unsure how to progress in light of information on the Safeguarding Self Declaration, please contact CSAS for advice and support on next steps. For Religious, please refer to your Safeguarding Rep; Co-ordinator or appropriate Safeguarding contact for guidance. CSAS is also available to provide assistance;
  • Where the contents of the Safeguarding Self Declaration Form indicated that the person may be unsuitable to work with children, young people or adults, the Safeguarding Commission will take appropriate action to remove any perceived immediate risk and to assess future risk. This may include referral to the Statutory agencies in line with the "Responding to Allegations" National Policy;
  • In cases of doubt about the result of the Disclosure, the Counter-Signatory or Safeguarding Co-ordinator will discuss this with the applicant within 14 days. In Religious Congregations, the Counter-Signatory will liaise with the Order concerning carrying out the process for assessing relevancy and risk assessment;
  • The Counter-Signatory is concerned SOLELY with information in relation to Child / Adult protection issues. Where other information regarding convictions etc. is given on the Disclosure Certificate, the Counter-Signatory will inform the person with ultimate responsibility for the appointment at Diocesan/Religious level who will take a decision on whether to appoint and will NOT share the reasons at parish level to preserve confidentiality;
  • It may be appropriate in such cases to appoint with written limitations or to put in place a specific condition within the probationary period;
  • Where the information provided in the Disclosure indicates continued risk to children or adults, the Counter-Signatory/ Safeguarding Co-ordinator or in Religious situations, the person responsible for the appointment or the Congregation Leader will immediately communicate with the applicant to discuss the need for safeguarding measures to be established at local level;
  • The Counter-Signatory/ Safeguarding Co-ordinator or in Religious situations, the person responsible for the appointment or the Congregation Leader will inform the applicant of the process to be followed/action to be taken, and likely timescales;
  • The Counter-Signatory/ Safeguarding Co-ordinator or in Religious situations, the person responsible for the appointment or the Congregation Leader will then refer the matter to the appropriate Safeguarding Commission which will, within 28 days, review the information in accordance with Safer Recruitment Policy and Procedures. This process will be undertaken on an anonymised basis;
  • Advice may be sought from CSAS in reaching an appointment recommendation and the Commission should present a written recommendation, with reasons for it, to the appropriate Bishop or Congregation Leader who will take the final decision. In the event that the Bishop/Congregation Leader is uncertain about the recommendation made to them, they should always consult with CSAS;
  • The Counter-Signatory/ Safeguarding Co-ordinator or in Religious situations, the person responsible for the appointment or the Congregation Leader will then inform the local person responsible for the appointment process of the decision, again without giving reasons;
  • If there are concerns regarding continued risk (e.g. where a volunteer applicant might remain within the parish and has convictions of say a sexual nature against children) a written agreement must be made between the individual concerned and the Safeguarding Co-ordinator.

3. Destruction of Disclosure Certificates in all cases

  • The Registered Body copy of the Disclosure Certificate (issued prior to 17th June 2013) will be destroyed no later than 6 months from the Date of Issue (except where a regulatory body has negotiated an exception with the DBS).

4. Assessing Relevancy of Criminal Records

Candidates invited to interview for employment, volunteer or office holding roles should be told in writing that relevant criminal convictions and other associated information will be discussed with them in confidence, in order to assess job-related risks. This provides an opportunity for organisations to raise issues concerning offences with applicants in open discussion. One to one interviews are preferable to Panel interviews for this purpose because of the sensitive nature of the information and are best done by people trained in interviewing techniques.

It should be duly noted that the first step, as with any selection or appointment process, should be the assessment of the applicant's relevant skills, experience, qualifications and ability to do the job. Only then should an applicant's criminal record be discussed with them. Interview Panels will do this only with the applicant to whom they would like to offer the post. The person who will do this is the Safeguarding Co-ordinator who is the only person to receive the Confidential Declaration Form of the person the panel wishes to appoint.

A job offer or volunteer appointment can be made "subject to" checks such as references, medical information and a Disclosure.

If it is the case that the information provided in the Disclosure contradicts that provided by the applicant, this should be discussed in person with them as part of a post-appointment process. This may have happened for a variety of reasons e.g. the information is inaccurate, it relates to someone of the same name, the applicant may simply not have understood the nature of the sentence they received or they may have tried to hide their convictions as a means of increasing their chances of employment.

An applicant's criminal record should be assessed in relation to the tasks he or she will be required to perform and the circumstances in which the work will be carried out. The following should be considered when deciding on the relevance of offences to particular posts:

  • Does the post involve one to one contact with children and/or adults as customers, employees and clients?
  • What level of supervision will the post holder receive?
  • Does the post involve any direct responsibility for finance or items of value?
  • Does the post involved direct contact with the public?
  • Will the nature of the post present any opportunities for the post holder to re-offend in the place of work?

In some cases, the relationship between the offence and the post holder will be clear enough for the organisation to decide easily on the suitability of the applicant for the job. In other cases it will not be so clear-cut. It should be remembered that no two offences are exactly alike. Wherever possible it is prudent to check original information at source, and to obtain written permission from the applicant to do so. It is recommended that the following issues be taken into account as a minimum requirement:

  • The seriousness of the offence and its relevance to the safety of other employees, customers, clients and property;
  • Whether the applicant pleaded guilty or not guilty;
  • The length of time since the offence occurred;
  • Any relevant information offered by the applicant about the circumstances which led to the offence being committed, for example the influence of domestic or financial difficulties;
  • Whether the offence was a one-off, or part of a history of offending;
  • Whether the applicant's circumstances have changed since the offence was committed, making re-offending less likely;
  • The country in which the offence was committed; some activities are offences in Scotland and not in England and Wales and vice versa;
  • Whether the offence has been decriminalised by Parliament;
  • The degree of remorse or otherwise, expressed by the applicant and their motivation to change.

Safeguarding Co-ordinators will undertake the risk assessment process only where the information contained in the Disclosure relates to the safety of children or adults. Where those persons have any concern or require advice this can be obtained via their Commission or CSAS. Other types of offences should be conveyed to the senior person (manager etc.) whose responsibility it is to assess their relevance to the appointment. They must be aware of and abide by the CSAS Safer Recruitment Policy and Procedures.