The Criminal Records Review Program-Part 2

This post will review the screening process for the new criminal record check and questions that may arise from the results of checks. If you have not yet read part one of this subject, you may want to do that first- just scroll down to the last post.

The application is available to download from the Solicitor General of BC’s website. http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/criminal-records-review/shareddocs/consent-form.pdf

 This is a form that you will want to read carefully, perhaps more than once. As a volunteer co-coordinator I have found it helpful to fill out a standard form that I can refer to each time I am having a volunteer fill one out. Page 2 of the consent is very helpful as it has checklists to refer to. 

Please ensure that volunteers read and understand the Consent for Release of Information which is located at the bottom of page 2 in small print.

The area for the applicant’s signature is separate from the applicant’s information- therefore it is important to double check that your volunteer signs the consent.

There are 6 different schedule types- which has led to some confusion. For screening volunteers, most organizations need to check Schedule E. However, organizations that are not licensed under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act will more than likely check Schedule A- (remembering that in the Act’s language, employee and volunteer are interchangeable).

 PAYMENT

There are several options listed here.The fee is $20.00. Certified cheques and money orders have extra fees that make this process even more costly. The most economical and straight forward to administrate is to pay by pre-authorized credit card. There is also the option of applying for a draw-down account. Organizations that are having their volunteers pay for their own CRCs may want to collect the fee in cash and apply it toward either of the last two options in order to keep the cost down for volunteers. Organizations that have many volunteers to process may want to explore setting up an on-line service to process their volunteers.

There are two ways of sending the information to the Solicitor General’s office. Remember you are sending a copy of the application- your organization must keep the original.

MAIL: Criminal Records Review, Ministry of  Public Safety and Solicitor General, PO Box9217 Stn Prov Govt,Victoria BC  V8W 9J1. If paying by credit card you have the option to FAX the credit card  authorization form with the completed application to 250-356-1889.

Be sure to use dark ink. Incomplete or incorrect information will result in processing delays. If using Fax as your mode of delivery, check to see that your Fax was received.   Refunds are not given for duplicate forms that may be processed.

The Criminal Records Review Program can be contacted at (250) 387-6981 or 1-800-663-7867.

Here are some more FAQs about the CRC process and implications of the results.

In the past I have had volunteers who are active with more than one agency. Is the Criminal Record Review transferable from one position/agency to another?

No- the Criminal Record Review is agency-specific. The request is filed by the agency to be specifically connected to a particular position at that agency. The review is looking for different “relative offences” based on if someone is volunteering with children or adults. You can no longer use a photocopy of a volunteer’s CRR- even if it is up to date.

What about practicum students?

For practicum students- the post-secondary institution or professional organization requests and holds the CRR. Practicum students can therefore be transferable from one agency to another.

We have a volunteer who did have a criminal background but we kept him on as he paid his dues long ago and his crime was not really relevant to his volunteer position. Will we have to let him go?

The CRR looks specifically for convictions or outstanding charges on a series of relative offenses depending on whether the person is volunteering with children or adults. The volunteer will either pass or not pass the screening depending on those offenses. Your volunteer may be fine to continue volunteering, if his/her offense was not something that the screening is looking for. There is also a review process for volunteers who do not pass the screening.

Thank you for reading this information. As mentioned in the first post the decision to implement a criminal record check with a fee for volunteers has been a stressful situation for many agencies. Many larger facilities, especially seniors residences, rely on the goodness of volunteers. To ask them to pay a fee for their service just does not seem right.

In October 2011 AVRBC and Volunteer BC wrote a joint letter on behalf of their memberships to the Solicitor General outlining the concerns of the volunteer management community and non-profit organizations regarding the Criminal Record Review. As a result of this letter a meeting will take place in early 2012 with representatives of AVRBC, Volunteer BC and the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General to develop an avenue of information and relationship building.

 

If there are any changes in the future we will surely keep you informed. In the meantime if you are having questions concerning the new Criminal Record Check that have not been answered, feel free to contact Lornna Olson at Volunteer Victoria- 250-386-2269

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Criminal Records Review Program-Part 1

By now most agencies know that starting a year ago changes were made to the BC Criminal Records Review Act. The Ministry of Public Safety & Solicitor General’s Criminal Records Review Program (CRRP) has expanded their existing program that protects children from physical and sexual abuse to also help protect “vulnerable adults” from physical, sexual and financial abuse.

This is part one of a two part blog entry that will hopefully help to clarify the changes that have been made. We are dealing with policies from different areas of government. Some of this information is not in unison and quite challenging to navigate through. The answers to the following ‘frequently asked questions” will hopefully be helpful.

I am not sure if my volunteers are affected.

Agencies that are affected are those who are regulated by either BC’s Community Care and Assisted Living Act or Hospital Act.  Examples of organizations that are affected (but not limited to): Community Care Facilities, Residential Care Facilities, Assisted Living Residences, private hospitals, home support agencies and adult day programs.  

 Our facility is regulated by the Hospital Act but  I cannot find much information pertaining to volunteers-perhaps my volunteers are exempt?

The language of both of the Acts considers a volunteer to be the same as an employee. This is really important.

In the past, volunteers have always had their criminal record checks done for free-has that changed?

The new Criminal Record Check  costs $20.00 for everyone. The organization has to decide who will pay-the volunteer or the agency. Naturally this has been a devastating blow to organizations that are already stretched beyond their means financially and now have to consider paying for their volunteers to have this review process.

I have volunteers that have been with this organization for years- they have been properly screened and have never been a problem-I don’t think that it’s necessary.

 This new process is legally required, even for volunteers who have been “grandfathered in.”  The new process (CRRP) will have to be renewed every five years.

As agencies we have always practiced due diligence when screening volunteers. In the past, we have used a RCMP or local police check as part of our screening process-do we need to use both now?

No you don’t need to use both. Only volunteers who are legally required are allowed to be screened through this process. Some volunteer roles are not covered under the CRRP-for example, coaches of sports teams. These volunteers can still be screened by the RCMP or local police.

 It’s all the same information anyway- a criminal record is a criminal record.

 Well- it’s complicated. The new Criminal Record Check looks for convictions or outstanding charges on a series of relative offenses specific to whether the volunteer will be engaged with children or adults. Police record checks list convictions, charges and any negative contact with police-whether or not charges were laid.

When does this have to be done by?

 The  12 month phase in program started in January 2011 with long term care and extended care facilities. The deadline for practicum students is January 1, 2012. January 30, 2012 is the final date for employees (remember in the Act’s language, this term includes volunteers) of mental health and substance abuse facilities.

Part 2 of this topic (to be posted early next week) will look at the screening process and it’s implications.

 

 

 

 

 


New Policy on Criminal Record Checks

As we have been hearing from our agencies, this screening enhancement has had a significant impact on their volunteer recruitment process.

Due to the extra work volume generated, there have been lengthy delays in getting criminal records checks processed. This has resulted in programming delays and in some cases loss of prospective volunteers.

Apparently, there have also been some challenges at the other end for the RCMP who manage this piece. There have been issues, in particular, where private screening companies are contracted by the agency to process the PRCs. Other issues are with regard to incomplete information provided by the agency/volunteer.

Volunteer Canada, on behalf of the sector is meeting with representatives of the RCMP branch that is stewarding this screening initiative to endeavour to address some of these issues.

In the interim, some information resources are now available that may answer some questions for agencies.

One of these is the Criminal Records Factsheet produced by the Canadian Police Information Centre. This Q and A sheet provides information on the new policy for criminal records checks and vulnerable sector verifications.

Volunteer Canada has also provided an information sheet on this new policy implementation, that was produced by Volunteer Alberta for its members.

The full policy on Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services is also available for download. This is the policy that mandates how dissemination of criminal record information is managed.

Volunteer Canada hopes to have further information available in the near future and when this is available we will pass this along to our agencies.


Criminal record checks in Victoria

A couple of weeks ago we offered a free training session to our member agencies on “The Ins and Outs of Criminal Record Checks” with presenter Denise Girvin from the Victoria Police.  Girvin, a criminal records specialist with the Victoria Police for the last seven years, gave us detailed information to help clarify our understanding of the criminal records check process and how it works within the City of Victoria in particular. 

To apply for a criminal record check, an individual wishing to volunteer who lives in the City of Victoria must go in person to the Victoria Police and fill out a form, providing identification and the last five years of their home addresses.  Currently, individuals applying for criminal record checks in order to volunteer in the Greater Victoria area do not have to pay if they are able to provide a letter of introduction from the community agency with which they wish to volunteer.

Upon receipt of the form, the criminal records specialist will research several different national and local databases in order to conduct the criminal record check, and they will return the completed record check to the individual.  The individual then in turn submits the completed record check to the agency’s coordinator of volunteers for their review.

It is important for a coordinator of volunteers at this stage to understand the nature of the four different categories detailed on the record.  In each of the four categories below, we will see on the record check that either a) no record was located, or b) a record “may or may not exist”:

  • Category 1 covers criminal convictions which have not been pardoned
  • Category 2 covers outstanding criminal charges
  • Category 3 covers records of conditional or absolute discharge which have not been removed, as well as stays of proceedings and peace bonds
  • Category 4 covers any local negative contact with the police, indicated on a case by case basis by Victoria Police (Note: other local police services may indicate this information on a criminal record check differently depending on their own policies and procedures).

Due to the nature of the work many volunteers perform in interacting with vulnerable groups, a “vulnerable sector” check is also usually carried out when proper consent by the applicant is given.  The purpose of this is to check for pardoned sexual offences which may have been committed by the person in question.

If any “may or may not exist” box is checked on an individual’s record, Girvin advises that the individual in question should follow up with the police to obtain the specific details of the criminal record.  For Categories 1 through 3 confirmation of identity can only be determined by the provision of the individual’s fingerprints to the RCMP in Ottawa.  For Category 4 a Freedom of Information request would be required to be submitted to the agency that has files on the applicant. Obtaining further information in either of these cases should be carried out by the applicant, who would then disclose the information obtained back to the coordinator of volunteers. Alternatively, the volunteer agency could obtain consent from the individual to have the files forwarded directly to the coordinator of volunteers. 

Overall, it should be noted that the Greater Victoria area is currently served by seven different police services, and the process described here is descriptive only of the procedures to obtain a criminal record check with the Victoria Police for individuals living within the City of Victoria.  If an individual wishing to volunteer lives in another police service’s region (for example, in the District of Saanich which is served by the Saanich Police) that municipality’s police service should be contacted for more details about their local policies and procedures with regard to criminal record checks.

Criminal record checks are an important part of the volunteer screening process when the volunteer position involves working with vulnerable people – for example children, the elderly, or people with disabilities – or with money or sensitive information.  However, Girvin advises that criminal record checks should be just one part of the process when screening volunteers – it should not be relied on as the only screening tool an agency employs. 

The Victoria Police regularly put on informational sessions to the public about the criminal record check process.  To find out when the next session is, contact the Victoria Police non-emergency line at (250) 995-7654.





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