This is what this two page official document, which I successfully obtained today, declares. In the nearly five years I have now lived in the Czech Republic, I have thankfully, done nothing to officially trouble the Czech Police or judicial authorities.
Whilst I can, and have 🙂 , made jokes about having evidence of my lack of criminality, the reason behind my obtaining this certified ‘Extract from the Criminal Records of individuals’ today, is quite serious. It is part of fulfilling the requirements of the ‘Safeguarding of Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults Policy’ of the Diocese in Europe and the wider Church of England.
When I was offered the post of being the Anglican Chaplain in the Czech Republic, back in May 2008, it was subject to a ‘UK Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) Enhanced Disclosure’ being obtained. This was despite already holding such a document, applied for by the Diocese of Oxford, some four years previously. Only when the new ‘Enhanced Disclosure Certificate’ came through, showing I had no criminal record of any description, could my appointment be officially confirmed and publicly announced.
The policy of the Diocese in Europe, in line with the rest of the Church of England, is that every person exercising a licensed ministry in the diocese, should be re-checked not less than once every five years. It was because my current UK CRB clearance dates from July 2008, that the Diocesan Safeguarding Administrator wrote to me some weeks ago, asking me to complete a fresh ‘Self Declaration Form’, but also to obtain the equivalent of a UK CRB clearance from the Czech authorities.
I was greatly helped in obtaining my Czech certified ‘Extract from the Criminal Records of individuals’, declaring that, ‘there is no information about convictions regarding this person’, by my good friend and colleague, Rev’d Dr Karen Moritz. She was previously required to obtain a similar document, before being licensed to help in the ministry of the Anglican Chaplaincy in the Czech Republic, under the Ecumenical Canons of the Church of England. However, whilst her certificate came out of the system within a couple of hours, mine ended up taking the full twenty working days that are officially allowed.
The reason for this discrepancy became clear today. For along with the official Czech documentation, there was a further two pages in English, declaring what the Diocese in Europe and I already know – that there is no record of any convictions against my name, recorded in the UK.
As a result of the EU Council of Ministers Decision 2009/315/JHA, each EU member state, shares with each other, evidence of criminality recorded within their jurisdiction. Therefore, although I had not requested it, I also effectively received, an updated CRB clearance from the UK. Actually, it is from the ‘Disclosing and Barring Service (DBS), which is what the CRB was renamed in September 2012, for reasons that are beyond my comprehension!
Whilst fulfilling all the requirements of the ‘Safeguarding of Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults Policy’ of my diocese, can at times, feel excessive and burdensome, I completely understand the reasons for them. For it has been the failure of the Roman Catholic Church to have a similar policy in place until recently, or even when belatedly put in place, the policy being bypassed or ignored, that has caused it so much adverse publicity in recent years, not forgetting the lives of the many innocent victims who have suffered at the hands of those who should have been caring for them.
Finally, on a lighter note, I could not help but notice the contrast in costs between the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom. To obtain my Czech certified ‘Extract from the Criminal Records of individuals’ today, cost me CZK 100 / £3.33 at current exchange rates. A new CRB (now DBS 😉 ) enhanced disclosure, currently costs £44.00 to obtain!