Police vetting for early learning services
This page provides information about police vetting for early learning services. It provides details on minimum requirements. We encourage services to meet more than minimum requirements, and the information on this page will help you do this.
What is a police vet?
A police vet is a search of the NZ Police database for information held about a person. It provides criminal history and other relevant information. This could include non-conviction matters such as acquittals, patterns of inappropriate behaviour or other relevant and substantiated information that might be considered significant. In some cases it might also include information about a person’s other dealings with the police, for example as a complainant or victim.
A police vet is not a complete background check, but it is an important part of the recruitment process.
Who needs to be police vetted and when does a vet need to be done?
Children’s workers must be police vetted as part of a safety check
Under Part 3 of the Children's Act 2014(external link), all children’s workers must be police vetted as part of a safety check. A children’s worker is anyone whose work involves regular or overnight contact with children, takes place without parents or guardians being present, and is paid or undertaken as part of an educational or training course. A New Zealand police vet must be obtained before the children’s worker starts work.
Everyone else working in an early learning service must be police vetted
Under Sections 319E-FA of the Education Act 1989(external link), a police vet must also be obtained for anyone else appointed to work during normal opening hours who may, or is likely to have, unsupervised access to children. This includes contractors and employees of contractors. The vet must be obtained before the person has unsupervised access to children. If a vet is not obtained, then the person must be supervised at all times by a certificated teacher or another employee who has a current satisfactory police vet.
Police vetting is required for all adults who live in a home where home-based early childhood education and care is being provided
The Education Act 1989 required a police vet of every adult who lives in a home where early childhood education and care is being provided.
This wording was unclear as to whether or not adults living in a house where a service is provided needed to obtain a police vet, even though they are not normally present when the service is being provided.
Section 25 of the Education and Training Act provides that police vets must be obtained. Schedule 4 sets out all police vetting requirements, including that vetting is required for every adult who lives in a home where ECE is being provided.
Police vets obtained by other organisations
The Teaching Council
You are not required to request a police vet for a teacher who has been issued a current practicing certificate or limited authority to teach by the Teaching Council. This is because the Council will only approve a practising certificate or authorisation once a police vet has been obtained and considered to be satisfactory as per Teaching Council policy.
In some cases, a teacher’s police vet report obtained by the Teaching Council may contain information that might be useful to a recruitment decision, for example information about a person’s dealings with the NZ Police which may not have resulted in a conviction. In this situation, the Teaching Council will send a copy of the police vet report to the teacher requesting an explanation. This is then considered as part of decision-making for finalising the practising certificate. Where appropriate, the approval letter accompanying the practising certificate will recommend that the teacher discloses the letter and any relevant information to current or potential employers. We recommend that you obtain a copy of this letter, and discuss it with the teacher.
You can read more about the Teaching Council’s processes and requirements on the Teaching Council website(external link). You can also check whether a teacher holds a current practising certificate by searching the Teaching Council's online register(external link).
Some other organisations may obtain a police vet as part of safety checking a children's worker under the Children's Act 2014(external link), for example some tertiary training providers and relief teacher agencies.
If you choose to rely on a police vet for a children's worker undertaken by another organisation on your behalf, we recommend you seek permission from the person being safety checked for this to occur before the safety check is undertaken. We also recommend you obtain confirmation from the person or organisation acting on your behalf that they are undertaking the check, prior to doing so. You should also request confirmation in writing that the check has been done to the standard set out in the Children's Act 2014. The documentation should be about the individual concerned, rather than generic.
You may choose not to rely on a police vet undertaken by another organisation, and to instead obtain your own police vet.
How to request a police vet
Only approved agencies can request a police vet. All early learning services can register to be an approved agency. You can register as an approved agency and request vets through the NZ Police Vetting Service(external link).
Allow enough time for your police vet request to be processed
It usually takes 20 working days for a police vet to be processed, but at peak times it may take longer. Submit your request as soon as possible for new employees or contractors, and plan ahead for police vets expiring in the next few months.
Urgent vetting service
An urgent police vet is available if you need to urgently recruit new core children’s workers to maintain or increase staff ratios in a critical or crisis situation. For example, an urgent police vet can be requested to recruit staff to:
- support a learning or behavioural need for a currently enrolled or newly enrolled child
- cover unexpected or extreme staff sickness
- provide support in a crisis or traumatic situation.
Urgent police vets are not available for:
- teachers who hold a current practising certificate (as police vetting is undertaken by the Teaching Council)
- recruitment of non-core children’s workers
- 3-yearly renewals / periodic re-checks of core or non-core children’s workers
- unpaid staff, eg volunteers
- adults living in a home where home-based education and care takes place.
You can submit the request as per the usual process, entering EDUCATION URGENT into the ‘Agency Reference’ field of the online vetting request form. These police vets are expected to be processed in 2-5 working days.
Police may reject applications submitted through this process that don’t meet the above criteria. Early learning services submitting requests that don’t meet the above criteria may also be subject to audit by the Police Vetting Service, and this may include use of the priority service being revoked. The Ministry works with the Police Vetting Service to monitor the use of this urgent service.
Using the information in a police vet
A police vet is an important part of the recruitment and safety checking process. The police vet, other information gathered through the recruitment process, and your risk assessment, will help inform your decision-making regarding a person’s recruitment.
It is up to each early learning service to decide what impact the information contained in the police vet will have on a person’s recruitment. The exception to this is if the police vet shows that a person has been convicted of a offence specified under the Children's Act 2014(external link). In this case, the person cannot be employed or engaged as a core children’s worker, unless they have an exemption.
A person who has been police vetted must be allowed to see the results, and have the opportunity to correct anything that isn’t accurate.
Managing police vetting information
You must keep evidence that a police vet has been requested and obtained according to the timeframes above. This evidence must be kept for at least as long as the person vetted is employed or engaged, and you must provide it to the Ministry of Education on request.
The results of a police vet are strictly confidential. All organisations must establish security procedures to protect the information. Only staff delegated with responsibilities that would require them to access the information should be able to do so.
You must explain to anyone being police vetted how long the information will be retained for and why. If the information needs to be kept for audit purposes, the person who has been police vetted must be made aware of this prior to consenting to the vet.
Once the information is no longer required to be retained, it must be securely destroyed.
Under the Children's Act 2014(external link), a New Zealand police vet must be obtained as part of a safety check.
We also recommend that you ask children’s workers who have lived overseas to provide copies of police certificates from their countries of citizenship and from any country in which they have lived for one or more years within the last ten years.
When a person cannot provide an overseas police certificate, they should provide you with proof of their attempts to obtain one. They should also make a statutory declaration (as per the form in Schedule 1 of the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957(external link)) that states whether they have any overseas criminal convictions or not. Just because a person is not recorded as having a criminal record, does not mean they have not engaged in behaviour that is an offence in New Zealand.
The NZ Police has a service which enables approved agencies to make an optional request for an Australian criminal history check. Refer to the NZ Police vetting pages for more information.
You can choose to rely on another organisation to undertake some or all components of a safety check for a children’s worker on your behalf, as set out above. This may include the police vet. The Children’s Act 2014 allows for this.
For children’s workers you safety check yourself, and for anyone else that you need to vet, you cannot use a vet previously obtained by other organisation, such as a previous employer, to satisfy the requirements set out here. This is because the Education Act 1989 and NZ Police’s Approved Agency Agreement and Vetting Service Request and Consent Form do not permit this.
NZ Police’s Approved Agency Agreement specifies that the results are intended for the approved agency only. The Vetting Service Request and Consent Form seeks permission from the individual being vetted for information to be disclosed to the Approved Agency making the request only.
The results released by NZ Police are based on information supplied about the role the individual is fulfilling, or being recruited for, at the time. If an individual is employed in a different role, the detail required from NZ Police may be different.
If a new offence specified under the Children's Act 2014(external link) comes to the attention of NZ Police after vet results have been issued for an individual, then NZ Police are able to contact the employing or contracting organisation who obtained the vet to alert them to this new information. NZ Police are not able to provide this information to subsequent organisations.
Strict confidentiality must be observed for police vets so it is important to ensure that all police vets are kept secure. Sharing information increases the risk of information becoming insecure.
Volunteers do not need to be police vetted under the Children's Act 2014 or the Education Act 1989.
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