May 24th, 2016 | Sterling

Vulnerable Sector Verifications and Persons Under 30

My blog from last month dealt with Vulnerable Sector Verifications (VSVs).  I posed these questions: Does your organization require VSVs for some or all of its positions?  When is it appropriate to ask for one?  What is gained by completing this process?  What is at risk?  If you haven’t read it, doing so will help to position the information I’m offering in this month’s blog.

Read it? Great – let’s talk about another aspect of VSVs that may be news to you. Did you know that sending a prospective employee or volunteer whose age is less than 30 years to a police station for a VSV is a pointless waste of time? You are searching for pardoned sex offender information that does not exist and never will – ever. This is because of a number of amendments to the law that have been made over the past few years. Here are the changes the federal government introduced:

  • Pardons became Record Suspensions
  • Wait time to apply for the record suspension of a summary conviction (minor) offence was extended from three years to five
  • Wait time to apply for the record suspension of an indictable (serious) offence was extended from five years to ten
  • Convictions of a sexual nature against a child makes the individual ineligible for a record suspension
  • Convictions of a sexual nature where the offender was in a position of trust or authority makes them ineligible for a record suspension
  • Three or more convictions for any type of indictable offence makes the individual ineligible to apply for a record suspension

These changes were introduced through amendments to the Criminal Records Act in 2010 and again in 2012. The effect of the changes has been that there are no longer any persons being added to the database of individuals who have received record suspensions for sexually based offences. The size of the database is shrinking – not growing.

Sterling Talent Solutions uses the federal Access to Information Act to regularly verify the age of the youngest person in this database. We have established and can confirm that the youngest person was born on February 28th, 1986. As a former Director General of the National Repository of criminal records, it is my opinion that the government should publish this fact, however until it chooses to do so, we will verify this information at regular intervals. You can ask us – and we will confirm for you and your policy makers what the current status is regarding the age of the youngest person in the pardoned sex offender database.

So how does this fact relate to those 2.4 million VSVs initiated in Canada each year? While it does not correspond perfectly to the 18-30 demographic that we’re discussing here, tables provided by Statistics Canada indicate that this age group accounts for approximately 18 % of the Canadian population.

Other Stats Canada data on volunteering indicates that younger persons volunteer significantly more than other age segments.

We also know that volunteer work often implicates vulnerable populations.

Setting aside the added level of volunteerism attributed to this age group, applying the 18% ratio to the 2.4 million Vulnerable Sector Verifications that are initiated each year, suggests as many as 430,000 of those processes without merit. Hundreds of thousands of younger Canadians are being directed to undergo a localized police process when instead, they, and the organizations that need them, could benefit from a convenient, secure and comprehensive online experience.

It may be that some organizations and some police services are cognizant of this information so, perhaps, somewhere less than roughly half a million young Canadians are being adversely impacted. But consider this: before reading this article, did you know that there is no one under 30 in the pardoned sex offender database? If you did, and you still think you require VSVs, have you adjusted your screening practices to account for this age group? If you’re currently completing VSVs that involve one or more police services, have you received advice regarding under – 30s from those police services that is consistent with what I’ve shared with you here? I can tell you that based on conversations I have had with police practitioners; many are unaware of this information.

Here’s another thought about the pardoned sex offender database and some well-founded speculation about its mysterious composition: How about women vs men? Did you know that 99% of sexual assault convictions and 97% of all other sexual offence convictions in Canada are attributed to males? Year over year, Statistics Canada court survey data shows this is the case.

It should be evident that to get a record suspension, one has to be convicted to start with. So, working with 3% as a probability, there might be 450 women in the whole database with many of those either aged or deceased – and none under the age of 30!

As was featured in last month’s blog – there are many risks organizations assume when they decide, in the context of the current policy framework, to complete a VSV. This is because the process as it stands forces the abandonment of secure, timely and comprehensive online solutions. The good news is that if you’re placing or hiring from the under-30 demographic in any sector where a VSV is still preferred, our robust and secure Enhanced Police Information Check will get your candidates out of the police lobby and into your organization with unparalleled speed, convenience and security.

Now that you know the facts, whatever you decide, do think twice about subjecting applicants under the age of 30 to a VSV process that includes a check of the pardoned sex offender database; it is inappropriate for these individuals and could even be viewed as discriminatory.

Next month, I will discuss Sterling Talent Solutions’ Enhanced Police Information Check (EPIC) and explain how it meets organizations’ requirements for a superior level of screening – for any sector.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.