A place of worship should be a sanctuary, a place of trust which is safe for everyone. Churches, Mosques, Temples, Synagogues and Gurdwaras are havens, where individuals and families can receive and give support – spiritual and otherwise. Many places of worship facilitate and promote wellbeing groups, child-minding, suppers, and other activities of community engagement that go beyond the weekly meeting.
These places of worship have a duty of care to ensure those engaging in their community are protected from risk and harm. It is essential and often a legal requirement, to conduct background checks on employees and volunteers to comply with legislation and safeguard members of faith communities and their visitors.
It’s not only activities that take place on the premises, these checks must apply to individuals engaging in all work done in the community (including people’s homes) on behalf of the organisation.
Ensuring safety, fostering trust
To establish a safe environment, it’s important to conduct thorough screening on all individuals volunteering or working in positions with access to children, young people and vulnerable adults.
Background checks don’t just tick a compliance box. They are a measure to demonstrate a culture where trust and safety are a priority. It is best practice to go beyond the minimum legal requirements to foster a culture where safeguarding is embedded in everything.
Who should be checked? Hint: it’s not just your leadership team.
There are numerous roles in places of worship (voluntary and paid) where screening is legally required and necessary for the protection of vulnerable groups. Some of these roles include:
What kind of checks should be run?
- DBS Checks
In many parts of the world these are simply known as ‘police checks’; these identify a criminal history and will advise if someone is barred from regulated activities.
The Disclosure and Barring Service facilitates police checks, the level of which (Basic, Standard, or Enhanced, with or without Barred Lists) depends on regulated activities and frequency with which they are performed. Strengthening Faith Institutions discusses various regulated activities which occur in places of worship, which a barred person must not do by law. The DBS provides guidance to assist organisations in determining the level of check required.
Reference checks are another excellent screening tool. They provide insight into an individual’s past behaviour and experience. A referee will be able to answer questions the person’s suitability for volunteering or employment.
For paid positions, a Right to Work check is essential to ensure those employed by the organisation are allowed to work in the UK. From October 1st, the legislation changed allowing organisations to do a UK Digital Right to Work check, removing the need to do it in person and adding extra security to the process.
The purpose of these checks is to ensure a safe environment for members, where children and vulnerable adults are protected from risk and potential harm.
However, they also serve to protect the organisation. A significant benefit of screening is the reduced risk of fraud, theft and reputational risk for the place of worship, as potential threats are identified and avoided.
A religious sanctuary should be just that – a sanctuary, a place of safety, support and community. Safeguarding of children and vulnerable people in these spaces is absolutely essential. Background checks are an effective measure of protection, allowing organisations to make informed decisions regarding volunteers and staffers in a myriad of roles.
Not sure where to start?
Vetting.com simplifies background checks, removing all the hassle with automation. Our cloud-based platform provides screeners full visibility over the process, allowing all checks to be handled in one place.
We’ve created simple workflows to capture necessary documentation and make the process easy for volunteers and staff to complete their checks.
Along with a suite of DBS checks of different levels, including volunteer checks, Vetting.com offers global Referencing, Digital Right to Work, Social Media and Qualification checks and more. If you’d like to know more, book a demo with us today.
Written by Mary Snowden.
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