Police vetting for Early Learning Services

This page provides information about police vetting for early childhood education (ECE) services, kōhanga reo and playgroups. 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?

Under Part 3 of the Vulnerable Children 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.

Under Section 319 of the Education Act 1989 (external link) , a police vet must be obtained for anyone appointed to work during normal opening hours. You must apply for a police vet no later than 2 weeks after the person begins work at the service and it must be obtained before the person has unsupervised access to children. A police vet must also be obtained for every contractor, or employee of a contractor, who has, or is likely to have, unsupervised access to children during normal opening hours.

Police vets must be renewed every three years.

Adults living in a home where a home-based service operates must be police vetted

Anyone 17 years of age or above who lives in a home where home-based education and care takes place must be police vetted. The police vet must be obtained before the adult is, or is likely to be, present when the service is being provided. This does not apply if all children live in the home where education and care is taking place.

Police vets obtained by other organisations

The Education 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 Education 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 Education Council policy.

In some cases, a teacher’s police vet report obtained by the Education 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 Education 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 Education Council’s processes and requirements on the Education Council website (external link) .

Other Organisations

Some other organisations may obtain a police vet as part of safety checking under the Vulnerable Children Act, for example some tertiary training providers and relief teacher agencies. If you choose to rely on a police vet undertaken by another organisation on your behalf, we recommend you seek permission from the person being safety checked for the information to be shared before the 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 Vulnerable Children Act. The letter 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 ECE services, kōhanga reo and playgroups 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 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.

Using the information in a police vet

A police vet is an important part of the recruitment 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 ECE service, kōhanga reo or playgroup 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 Vulnerable Children Act (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

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.

The consent form, identification documents and the vetting result must be securely disposed of no later than 12 months after the release of the vetting results.

All ECE services, kōhanga reo and playgroups must maintain a record of the dates on which every person has been police vetted. We recommend that this includes:

  • The date of the initial vet
  • Date of the most recent vet
  • When the next vet is due 
  • Whether the results were satisfactory or unsatisfactory

All information must be managed in accordance with the Privacy Act 1993 (external link) or any other enactment.

Overseas workers

Under the Vulnerable Children Act (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.

Sharing vets

Police vets must not be shared, as the legislation under which Police vetting is required 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 Vulnerable Children 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

Volunteers do not need to be police vetted under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 or the Education Act 1989.

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