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Parish Safeguarding Officer (PSO)

Appointing a PSO

On page 19-20 of The Church of England Key roles and responsibilities of church office holders and bodies practice guidance it says:

In terms of safeguarding, with the incumbent the PCC will:


  • At least one appropriately experienced designated Parish Safeguarding Officer (PSO) to work with the incumbent and PCC. This PSO should be a lay person. It cannot be the incumbent. The PSO may also be the DBS Administrator for church officers who work with children or vulnerable adults but if not, the PCC should appoint another individual. The PSO should be supported, trained and given a copy of the parish safeguarding policy and procedures;
  • Additional safeguarding roles, as required. These roles are optional. They will be dependent on local need and available resources. They may also be fulfilled by the same people. Any additional roles are left to local determination

Explanation of the role of PSO:

The role of the PSO is one of trust and requires a high degree of honesty and integrity. The PSO will be privy to highly confidential and potentially sensitive information and we do therefore require that the role is filled by someone with the highest principles.

You should have read the Church of England Model Parish Safeguarding Officer Role Description, or received something similar from your recruiter, when you went through the Safer Recruitment process for the role of PSO.

On Section 3.3 (pages 22-23) of The Church of England Key roles and responsibilities of church office holders and bodies practice guidance it says:

Each Parish Safeguarding Officer’s (PSO) role is to:

  • Work closely with the incumbent to advise within the parish on all safeguarding matters relating to children, young people and vulnerable adults;
  • Receive, with the incumbent, any concerns about children or adults in the parish and make sure that proper advice is sought and proper referrals are made;
  • Report all matters relating to concerns and allegations of abuse against church officers, in liaison with the incumbent, to the DSA [Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser] who will liaise with the statutory agencies, as required. Concerns about the incumbent should be raised directly with the DSA;
  • Ensure that any ex-offenders with offences against children or vulnerable adults known to be in the church community are notified to the DSA and contribute to managing Safeguarding Agreements;
  • Promote safer practices in all activities and make any recommendations required taking into account the particular arrangements of the parish;
  • Seek to ensure that Safer Recruitment practice is followed, with the support of diocese.
  • Attend diocesan safeguarding training at least every three years;
  • Maintain safeguarding records;
  • Complete national, diocesan and parish safeguarding self-assessments as required;
  • Contribute to the annual review of parish safeguarding arrangements;
  • The PSO should regularly report on safeguarding in the parish. Safeguarding should be a standing agenda item at each PCC meeting. At the APCM the PCC will provide an annual report in relation to safeguarding.

The PSO may also be responsible for:

  • Being the DBS Administrator [within the Diocese of Chelmsford we use the term Registered Recruiter]
  • Supporting other church officers who work with children or vulnerable adults;
  • Providing or arranging provision of safeguarding training for parish workers (both volunteers and paid staff).

Preferably the PSO should be someone who is a lay person, has good pastoral and organisational skills and experience of working with children/young people or vulnerable adults, although not always currently involved in such work in the parish. They should not be the incumbent or his or her partner.

The level of the resource will be dependent on the size and complexity of the parish. These roles often are voluntary but some larger parishes have paid posts. Some parishes have one PSO for children and one for vulnerable adults. If required, in rural parishes, or in group arrangements, arrangements for safeguarding maybe shared whilst remembering that legal responsibilities will continue to rest with the individual parishes.

DBS (UK Criminal Record Checks) for PSOs and registered Lead/Additional Recruiters (DBS Administrators)

The role of PSO alone is not automatically eligible for an Enhanced DBS check. If the PSO is on the PCC they may be eligible for an Enhanced DBS check without the barred lists.

The role of registered Lead/Additional Recruiter (DBS Administrator) alone is not automatically eligible for an Enhanced DBS check. Access to sensitive/confidential/personal information does not make them eligibile for an Enhanced DBS check. If the registered Lead/Additional Recruiter (DBS Administor) is on the PCC they may be eligible for an Enhanced DBS check without the barred lists.

Please remember that we cannot accept DBS certificates from other organisations unless the individual has subscribed themselves to the DBS Update Service to make their certificate portable/transferrable. In these circumstances please contact us and we will be able to carry out a quick and free online Status Check.

For those who are not eligibile for an Enhanced DBS check, a BASIC DBS check can be processed.

(See our DBS and Criminal Record Checks webpage for more detailed guidance)

Church of England Safeguarding Courses Required for PSOs

There are 6 Church of England Safeguarding courses that every PSO is required to complete (ideally within 6 months of your appointment).

These 4 Church of England safeguarding e-Learning courses:

  1. Basic Awareness
  2. Foundation
  3. Safer Recruitment and People Management
  4. Raising Awareness of Domestic Abuse

are available via The Church of England National Safeguarding Team’s online Learning Portal (website) - https://safeguardingtraining.cofeportal.org/. These 4 courses are not virtual courses (e.g. Zoom) so you do not need to book a ticket and you do not need a device with a camera or microphone. You log-on when it’s convenient for you, read/listen to the text and videos and then select the answers to multiple choice questions. I have attached some guidance, but if you require support or assistance with the Church of England  Safeguarding e-Learning courses, you will need to contact The Church of England National Safeguarding Team directly by emailing  elearning@mail.safeguardingtraining.cofeportal.org

These 2 Church of England safeguarding courses are presented live and need to be booked onto. The available dates and times are listed on our webpages and individuals book their own places:

  1. PSO Induction
  2. Leadership
  • If your only suitable course date/time is already fully booked, we would recommend that you still click on the link and register yourself for the waiting list as we often have a few cancellations prior to the event.
  • If none of the currently advertised course dates/times are suitable please keep checking the website for updates as we are not always able to send out repeat reminders.
  • We provide morning, afternoon, evening and Saturday morning sessions, but we do not provide sessions during the school holidays.

Please be aware: Regardless of your professional/secular background you are still required to complete all 6 of the Church of England Safeguarding Courses. The only other accreditation that the Church of England National Safeguarding Team will accept instead is from the Methodist Church as their training covers both child and adult safeguarding in a Christian Faith setting.

New PSO Tasks and Actions

Also registered as a Lead/Additional Recruiter (DBS Administrator)?

If you are also registered with thirtyone:eight as a Lead/Additional Recruiter please note that the E-Bulk Recruiter Agreement includes:

All organisations using the E-bulk system must agree to:

  • Ensure that all personal information supplied is held securely, in accordance with the UK Data Protection Legislation (Data Protection Act 2018 and UK GDPR).
  • Continue to ensure that all users follow the instructions contained within Thirtyone:eight guidance.
  • Not proceed with any online Enhanced DBS check application until the applicant has completed and returned a self-declaration form /confidential declaration to the Recruiter.
  • Ensure that all User Accounts and other details are kept safe and secure.
  • Not share User Account Details with any party not explicitly authorised by Thirtyone:eight.
  • Request Thirtyone:eight to withdraw the Account details from any user acting in a malicious manner or otherwise outside of the DBS Code of Practice or users no longer authorised to access the System.
  • Not divulge the User Account details to Thirtyone:eight (except for support purposes) or any third party.
  • Ensure that any DBS checks requested or carried out are justified and allowable as per the DBS Code of Practice and other relevant legislation.
  • Ensure identity verification is done with due diligence and in full compliance with the DBS Code of Practice, DBS guidance or any other applicable guidance or legislation.
  • Comply with any new or revised DBS guidance notified Thirtyone:eight or other relevant legislation.

(See our DBS and Criminal Record Checks webpage for more detailed guidance)

For more information or to report anything wrong with this page please contact The Safeguarding Team