Criminal record checks explained

  • Mar. 2, 2011 12:00 p.m.

Anyone who has ever wanted to volunteer at their child’s school knows the first order of business is a trip to the RCMP detachment for a criminal record check.

And with new legislation in place for the checks, the Vernon and District Volunteer Bureau and the Community Volunteer Coordinators’ Network (CVCN)  decided an information session was in order.

The two organizations recently organized a meeting of non-profit agencies that will feel the impact of the new legislation governing criminal record checks.

A number of experts made up the panel who spoke to an audience of more than 50 representatives from local non-profit groups: Rachael Zubick, manager of the Community Policing office; Jill Luxton, information and complaints officer, and Blair Imrie, records manager, both with the Vernon RCMP detachment; and Twylla Genest, manager of the Vernon and District Volunteer Bureau.

The panel was asked to address the issue of criminal record checks and in particular the new legislation governing policies and procedures for individuals wishing to volunteer and needing a record check in order to do so.

Of interest and concern were the procedures for the Vulnerable Sectors Group.

“Individuals wishing to volunteer with vulnerable persons (children, youth, seniors or persons with a disability) must consent to a Sexual Offence Record Check for which a pardon has been granted or issued,” said Imrie. “It is for the protection of those coming under the Vulnerable Sector Group.”

Imrie said people with the same name or birth date of an individual on the National Sex Offender Registry will be “flagged” as needing further investigation.

“This is where the finger printing process becomes necessary,” said Zubick.  “Being flagged is not synonymous with being suspect. The process is implemented to accurately identify the person wishing to volunteer.”

Luxton said there is a cost to this process as it involves a lot of work and time.

“The potential volunteer will be notified that they have been ‘flagged’ and asked if they would like to proceed with the finger printing process,” she said. “Ottawa (Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services) will return a document verifying the applicant’s personal information together with confirmation that the vulnerable sector screening has been performed. Volunteers would be advised to keep this document for future reference.”

Genest indicated that the agencies have always been expected to exercise due diligence in the form of interviewing, screening and record checking. The difference now is that the process is more stringent and time-consuming.

“Volunteers are caring people who offer to use their time, skills and talents in the service of helping someone in need. Vernon and district can be proud of the number of people who have come forward to offer service as volunteers,” she said. “As non-profit agencies it behooves us to do all that we can to protect these individuals and ourselves in the service of our community.”