Questions and Answers about DBS Checks, Supervision and Safeguarding Training

Reviewed May 2024


Q1. What is the difference between Safeguarding and Child Protection?

A Safeguarding means proactively seeking to involve the whole ringing community in keeping children safe.

Child protection is a central part of safeguarding and promoting children’s welfare. It is about protecting individual children identified as either suffering or at risk of suffering significant harm. This could be because of neglect, physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

Q2. What is the definition of a child /young person?

A. A person under the age of 18

Q3. What is the definition of a vulnerable adult?

A. A person aged 18 or over, who is in receipt, or maybe in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness and who is, or maybe unable to take care of him or herself or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation.

Q4. What is a Regulated Activity?

A. An activity which involves supervision or training of children under 18 or vulnerable adults.

Q5. What does DBS stand for?

A. The Disclosure and Barring Service.

Q6 What is the Update Service?

A. Once a DBS certificate has been issued it can be registered with the Update Service which enables the criminal record of the certificate holder to be continuously updated, thereby reducing the need to renew DBS certificates every 5 years as is currently required by the Diocese of Ely. Registration must be completed within 19 days from the date of the certificate. This is done online by the certificate holder and is free of charge for volunteers.

Update Service website:


Q7 Who is responsible for activities held on church premises?

A The incumbent, churchwardens and PCC are legally responsible for all activities which take place on church premises.

Q8. How do I know if I need to be DBS checked?

A. You need to be checked if you are training or supervising, or manage trainers and supervisors of under 18s or vulnerable adults at a frequency or intensity as defined in Q4. Your PCC is responsible for ensuring that it adheres to the legal requirement regarding its employees and volunteers, and should have a safeguarding policy. Contact your PCC safeguarding co-ordinator for further information.

Q9. How are DBS checks carried out?

You will be required to apply online as directed by your local PCC. You will have to provide specified means of identification. On completion, the data submitted is verified by the DBS and you will be notified of the results by issue of disclosure certificate. This is the only copy of the certificate but the PCC safeguarding co-ordinator will also be notified of the results via the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer.

Q10. There are no children or vulnerable adults amongst the bell ringers in my tower. Does anyone need to be DBS checked?

A No. A person is only eligible for a DBS check if they carry out a regulated activity..

Q11. I am not in charge at my tower but as an adult I regularly help with training of new bell ringers which include children. Do I have to be DBS checked?

A Not if you are working under the direct supervision of a DBS checked person appointed by the PCC.

Tower captains and trainers who have been “safely” recruited (via DBS checks) can supervise other helpers in a training capacity, without the need for helpers to be DBS checked, if the tower captain / trainer is always able to see the helpers’ actions during their work.

Q12. I am a “rank and file” ringer attending practices and / or service ringing at my tower every week. I do not teach or train ringers, Do I need to be DBS checked?

A. No, rank and file ringers do not need to be DBS checked.

Q13. I am under 18 years of age but take part in teaching bell ringing to children in my home tower once a week or more. Do I have to be DBS checked?

A It is recommended by the Diocese of Ely that under 18’s should not be placed in a position of sole responsibility for training or teaching because they are legally classed as children themselves. They can carry out training and teaching under the direct supervision of an authorised trainer (See Q11). If your local PCC appoints an under 18 as a sole trainer/leader of a regulated activity the individual must be DBS checked. You should refer to your PCC safeguarding co-ordinator.

Q14. If I run a practice in my tower for a group which includes children or vulnerable adults, and a visiting ringer is invited to regularly train them or help in my tower, do I have to check that he/she is DBS certified?

A No, your own PCC is responsible for ensuring that your tower has DBS checked leaders if under 18s or vulnerable adults are being trained. If a local DBS checked ringer is present at all times, the visiting ringer is acting under the power of supervision, see Q11.

Q15. If I am already DBS checked and move into a parish and take part in training young ringers do I have to apply for a new DBS certificate?

A. Your PCC safeguarding co-ordinator will discuss this with you and refer the matter to the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer. If your certificate was issued for an identical role and is registered with the Update Service it is possible that you will not need to renew it. If your certificate is allowed you will still be required to complete a confidential declaration form and provide references. Your parish safeguarding co-ordinator will help you with this.

Q16. As a tower captain/trainer, do I need written permission to teach children and/or vulnerable adults to ring, and take them to practices, ringing meetings, outings or social events?

A. Yes, your PCC safeguarding co-ordinator will supply a form for parents to complete which authorises their children to take part in the “normal activities” of the bell ringing group. This could include events such as weekly practices, Sunday service ringing and district meetings. 

If other ringing events are organised for children on a frequent basis e.g. Young Ringers’ Meetings, written permission is required because the trainers and supervisors at those events will not necessarily be the same as in your local tower, and they will need a completed form which will include contact details and other key information about the child 

If a special event is organised such as a weekend outing a separate written permission is required detailing travel and accommodation arrangements.

Note 1: It is suggested that you discuss local ringing activities with your PCC safeguarding co-ordinator to ensure that permission to ring forms reflect the activities which are organised by the local ringers. This should also include permission to take and publish photographs.

Note 2: Completed forms are confidential documents and should be retained securely by the tower captain or event leaders. Details of emergency contact numbers for parents should be available with leaders at all times.

Q17. Do I need a DBS certificate to transport children to and from ringing events?

A If the PCC appoints you to do this you will need a DBS certificate. Most usually, transporting children is a private arrangement between parents and ringers and does not require any form of vetting.

Note: It is strongly advised that if you do offer lifts for children, where possible, you, plus one other adult is always present with the child/children and that you obtain permission from parents beforehand. It is also necessary to state exactly where you are going and what time you will return. Make sure you have contact details of the parents.


When referring to ‘the Association’, this means events organised at Association level e.g. meetings, training days and outings.

Q18. Does the Association carry out Regulated Activities?

A. Normal monthly meetings and annual events such as the striking competition, AGM, or training day do not constitute a Regulated Activity. District events also do not fall within the definition of Regulated Activities. (See Q4).

However, training organised through the Association Training Centres, or the Young Ringers’ events which could involve 1:1 contact with children, or take place over a long term or on an intensive basis, might fall within the definition of regulated activities and all trainers and supervisors must be DBS checked before they commence work.

Such DBS checks should be done through their own PCC, or as a pre-requisite if trainers are members of the Association of Ringing Teachers.

Q19. If I am required to be DBS checked by my PCC would my details be held by the Association Safeguarding Officer?

A Only if this is required as a leader or trainer working on behalf of the Association.

Q20. Is it necessary for a ringer in a supervisory or training role at monthly meetings to be DBS checked?

A. No, but the Association has issued Guidelines for Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults at Ringing Meetings.

Q21. Are there any guidelines for the taking and use of photographs of children?

A. Yes, see Guidelines for the Taking and Use of Photographs on Behalf of the Association and the Use of Social Media.

Q22. Are there any guidelines for the use of social media in reporting and advertising ringing events organised by the Association?

A. Yes, see Guidelines for the Taking and Use of Photographs on Behalf of the Association and the Use of Social Media.

Q23. If there is suspicion of abuse, or concerns about inappropriate behaviour towards children or vulnerable adults, to whom should this be reported?

A. Report it to the Association Safeguarding Officer who will be able to give guidance. If it occurs at your local practice report it immediately to your incumbent or parish safeguarding co- ordinator.

If there is a risk of harm to an individual dial 999 immediately.

Other Contact Details:

Childline: 0800 1111

Police: 101

Ely Diocese Safeguarding Duty Messaging Service 01353 652747

Q24. Where can I obtain further information about child protection and safeguarding?

A. Contact your local church Safeguarding Co-ordinator, or the Association Safeguarding Officer.


Q25. I have been appointed as tower captain and/or bell ringing trainer and as such have responsibility of the wellbeing for everyone who attends ringing in my tower. Do I need to attend any safeguarding training?

A. Yes, National Church Guidelines require all leaders of groups where young people or vulnerable adults take part, to be trained in accordance with CofE Guidance.

Your local PCC safeguarding co-ordinator will determine the training required and advise you on this matter.