Is a Police Information Check always necessary?
The short answer is no. There are many considerations that must go into deciding if a Police Information Check is necessary.
The first step is to find clarity on the different types of police checks and to determine which type is needed.
In Alberta, police services provide Police Information Checks. When it is required for a volunteer role, Vulnerable Sector Checks can be requested and obtained only through police services. A thorough screening process (following the 10 Steps to Screening) will provide reasonable information to decide if a person is the right fit for the volunteer role and determine if a Police Information Check is necessary.
What’s the difference between Police Information Check and Vulnerable Sector Check?
Police Information Checks may be reasonable if a volunteer works in a position of trust, but is not solely responsible for the well-being of vulnerable persons. A volunteer role like this does not necessitate a Vulnerable Sector Check, but for other risk considerations it may still be necessary to conduct one. Police Information Checks include existing criminal convictions, upcoming criminal court appearances, and a scan of the local police records in the jurisdiction in which the applicant resides. Keep in mind that they may include information on alleged crimes in which the person was not charged or convicted.
Vulnerable Sector Checks are requested as part of a Police Information Check when a volunteer is solely responsible for the well-being of children under the age of 18, elderly persons over the age of 65, or people with physical or mental disability (whether temporary or permanent). Merely being in contact with a vulnerable person does not necessitate a Vulnerable Sector Check, unless the volunteer is in a position with a significant degree of trust or authority and with unsupervised access to vulnerable persons.
A Vulnerable Sector Check determines if an applicant is a pardoned sex offender and it also includes a scan of local and national police databases to ensure that the applicant in no way presents a threat to any vulnerable person.
Get to know the process and complexities.
The information shared in a Police Information Check is highly sensitive and must be treated with due care in order to protect the privacy and rights of people who volunteer. The information can also be complex; police services can support you in understanding this information. As part of your due diligence in volunteer screening, we encourage you to contact your local police service to get informed about the local process and to gain clarity about the sensitive information that will be put into your care.
If you are still unsure if a Police Information/Vulnerable Sector Check is required, please check with your local police service. Provide the volunteer position description and risk assessment to help police services offer you clarity.
What are the pros and cons of police information checks?
Charity Village explores the topic in depth.