Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Volunteering and National Police History Checks

Police checks are not just required when an individual is seeking employment. Oftentimes, volunteering organisations will request that potential volunteers obtain a police check in order to determine if the person is suitable to volunteer in specific environments, engage with specific people and perform specific tasks and roles.
This could be of particular importance when an individual proposes to volunteer to work with older people, those with disabilities or with children, all of whom may be vulnerable should the person not be of good character and cannot demonstrate this good character through a clean police check. Knowing the background of a potential volunteer can be of utmost importance in these situations.

No one would suggest that it would be good for someone who has been convicted of, say, murder or aggravated assault to have contact with vulnerable people in either an employment or volunteer situation. An individual with this history poses too much of a danger to vulnerable people. Likewise with other serious convictions. A police check allows volunteer organisations to feel confident that they are not allowing individuals with an adverse history access to vulnerable individuals.

However, there are many ways in which those with lesser convictions can be valuable volunteers in organisations. For example, perhaps all it would take would be for the individual to be supervised in their work to mitigate any potential problems that may arise if they were to work independently. Perhaps, as well, they could be given tasks or jobs upon which their criminal record would have a negligible effect.

Moreover, there may also be roles for which a police check is unnecessary and should not be requested. To ensure the privacy of individuals, careful consideration must be taken to ensure police checks are only requested when truly necessary. An applicant for a volunteer position must also consent to have a police check performed. 

If a criminal history is revealed in a police check, it is important that the appropriate people at the organisation have a conversation with the individual about their criminal record and allow the individual to explain, if they wish to, the circumstances related to them committing the crime and/or how they feel they have altered their behaviour since then. The individual should be given the opportunity to argue their case and have their opinion taken into account before a decision is reached on their suitability.

In addition, it is especially important that volunteering organisations understand they can provide a valuable service to the community by giving individuals with a criminal history - as determined by their national police check, who have often only committed minor offences, work experience and the confidence that comes through being productive and accomplishing things. 

By allowing individuals the opportunity to contribute to the community, they become more involved, active members of the community who are able to put their past behind them and may even use their volunteer experience to move into gainful employment. It is better for society if these individuals are not ostracised forever. While they should be punished for their crimes, it is also best if, once they have been punished, they can be given support to alter their behaviour. 

Becoming a volunteer may help them on their way to change their behaviour. Use of police checks to monitor that behaviour commitment may help.

However, whether a volunteer organisation chooses to utilise the skills of those with a criminal history or not, they should ensure that the utmost sensitivity and privacy are maintained when obtaining police checks, in reviewing them and in discussing them. The results of a police check must be kept confidential at all times. While they are most certainly beneficial in assessing individuals hoping to volunteer for certain positions, they must be used with sensitivity, intelligence and in confidence.

How to apply for a National Police Check with Veritas Check

For those people who require a police check, the process is a simple one that involves very few steps, costs very little and can be accomplished relatively quickly. Many companies can provide you with a National Police Check. The first step is to choose a company that you trust and feel comfortable applying through.

  • Once you have chosen which company you wish to go through, you will typically be asked to complete an online application. This is usually a quick procedure which should not take up too much of your time.
  • Next, you will be asked to confirm you are who you say you are by providing certain forms of identification. Acceptable identification is defined as providing the typical 100 points of identification as often used in Australia.
  • Lastly, you will need to lodge your application by having copies of your 100 points of identification certified as true copies by someone who can witness statutory declarations.
  • You will then need to post your application and documents to the appropriate company.
Timeframes for Return of Police Check Results
When applying for a Police Check with Veritas Check, you should expect to receive your police check back within 30 mintues if applied via the website: This is not too long to wait for something so important, and it seems a triumph that companies can provide such speedy processing times for such a check, especially when many people move between states and thus their records in all states must be checked. 

If you are anxious about your application, many companies will allow you to track the progress of your application using basic information such as your surname, email and a reference number you have been given.

Proving the authenticity of a National Police Check
Once your police check has been finished, you will be emailed the results of this check. However, how can you prove to potential employers or others that your police check is genuine? Generally, the company that you have gone with will provide you with a reference number to allow those who wish to to verify your check on the company's website. Some companies will also give you a QR code which you or those who you give access to the code can scan using a mobile device to confirm the validity of your police check.

Costs of a National Police Check
You may think that the cost of a police check will be unbearably prohibitive, considering the costs of other work-related testing, security cards, etc. However, police checks are surprisingly affordable and as such should not prohibit people from applying to jobs or other opportunities on the basis of cost.

Validity of a National Police Check
It will be up to your employer, future employer or any company or business who requests you to provide a police check on how long they will accept your police check. As a police check can only confirm your criminal record or lack thereof at a single point of time (the point at which it is checked), how long it is acceptable is up to whoever requests it. Often times, companies will accept a police check that has been done within the past year or two, perhaps even more. 

However, even if you must have one done more frequently than this, the low cost and speed at which you can obtain a new one should mean that it will be easy for you to obtain a new one whenever you require it.