Anonymity and the Internet
Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on the use of social networking sites.
We do, however, recognise that issues can occur with personal anonymity on the internet.
Groups may find it helpful to mention this issue when reading the Anonymity Card; with a foot note such as this:
“We ask that you do not take or post photographs or talk about our meeting or the people you meet here, when using social networking sites.
Anonymity is a personal choice, comments and the posting of photographs can break the anonymity of others”.
Usernames and passwords deployed on social media sites such as facebook are more for site security than user identity protection; once you log onto the site you should assume all that you post to be in the public domain.
Your own profile may be restricted, according to your security settings, but if you post comments, or pictures, on other peoples ‘timeline’ they may become public, and once out there, that’s where they stay.
Your anonymity is your own business, but you should not break other peoples.
AA Guide Lines below:
‘When using digital media AA members are responsible for their own anonymity and that of others’
‘When we post, text or blog, we should assume that we are publishing at the public level’
‘When we break our anonymity in these forums, we may inadvertently break the anonymity of others’
© Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc. 2011.
Service providers must take appropriate measures to safeguard the security of their service. What ‘appropriate’ means depends on the nature of the risk, the technology available, and the cost.
Service providers must also inform their customers of any significant security risks.
The General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous (Great Britain) Limited
Safeguarding Standards in AA Fellowship: June 2018
The General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous (Great Britain) Limited (the General Service Board) is a
charitable company, with registered charity number 226745.
The members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) support each other in self-regulating groups (the AA Fellowship)
which are autonomous from the General Service Board.
The Disclosure and Barring Service and Scottish Government have confirmed that AA members do not
require DBS or Disclosure Scotland checks for 12th Stepping or Sponsoring, as they are members of selfregulating groups. As individuals, however, AA members should be aware of their duty of care to others and
hence follow the law and best practice on safeguarding, when acting in AA’s name. This updated guidance is
offered by the General Service Board to be disseminated by the AA Fellowship to all AA members.
This guidance has been updated in light of recent high-profile cases in the wider charity sector which have
prompted the need to review and further strengthen safeguarding standards within the AA Fellowship.
The basic principle
Every AA member must recognise that all individuals, regardless of age, disability, gender, racial heritage,
religious belief, sexual orientation or identity, have a right to equal protection from all types of harm or
Who the Guidance protects
This Guidance applies to the safeguarding of all AA members or those who AA members come into contact
with when acting in AA’s name, including those under the age of 18 (minor) or any vulnerable adults who
may be members of the AA Fellowship.
Disseminating best practice
A copy of the latest version of this Guidance should be given to every new AA [and existing AA] member.
It is vital that all Group Secretaries understand and learn about safeguarding and protection issues within
the context of the AA Fellowship in order to ensure a safe environment for AA members and those who AA
members come into contact with when acting in AA’s name.
Meetings with new members to the AA Fellowship:
• should be conducted by two existing AA members and, wherever possible, by a man and a woman;
• should be held in a public place and the date, time, and place of any meeting should be reported in
advance to the Group Secretary.
A Sponsor should:
• be at least a year away from their last drink.
• have regard to this guidance and their duty of care towards other AA members.
AA members are not legally required to obtain a DBS Certificate in order to act as a Sponsor. However,
Sponsors are encouraged to apply, as individuals, for a basic DBS Check and to provide a copy of their DBS
Certificate to their Group Secretary, as a means of strengthening safeguarding standards in the Fellowship.
DBS Checks for members attending schools and prisons
Schools, educational establishments, and prisons will carry out identification checks, and some may ask all
volunteers to provide a DBS certificate.
An enhanced DBS check must be obtained by any AA member engaging in a regulated activity. This includes
any member who, in AA’s name, frequently attends a school, educational establishment, or prison (e.g. to
provide advice and guidance or teach) or may have unsupervised contact with a minor or vulnerable adult.
It is the school’s/prison’s/educational establishment’s duty, and not that of the Fellowship, to ensure that
the requisite DBS checks are completed. However, as a matter of best practice, any members acting in AA’s
name, should be willing to provide a DBS Certificate or sign up to the DBS Update Service for repeat checks,
If any Group Secretary or AA member is unsure whether any role undertaken in AA’s name requires a
criminal record check of any sort they should consult the following governmental guidance:
Any AA member who holds a DBS Certificate should be encouraged to notify the Group Secretary of this fact
and of any updated DBS certificate obtained.
Reporting safeguarding concerns
If any AA member believes they are being abused or knows/suspects that another AA member is being
abused they should consider taking the following action(s), as appropriate:
• Preserve any evidence.
• Report all concerns to the:
▪ Group Secretary and/or any Group member;
▪ Local Authority Adult Social Care team (about a vulnerable adult); and/or
▪ Local Authority Children’s Services team (about a minor).
• In an emergency, if there is immediate risk of abuse call 999.
If there is any doubt about whether a situation amounts to abuse, members of the Fellowship should ask the
advice of their Local Authority Safeguarding Lead.
Smaller AA groups, and those in rural areas, should consider contacting other groups in the region to pool
resources for 12th Stepping, sponsorship, and to promote and strengthen and safeguarding practices.
This Policy shall be reviewed annually by the Charity (or sooner should there be a change in legislation).
This policy was approved by the General Service Board of AA on: 14 July 2018
Date of next review due: July 2019
Roger Booth (General Secretary) on behalf of the General Service Board for AA (GB) Ltd