City Police Services Board starts fee for volunteer checks

At its July 15 meeting of the Guelph Police Services Board the members approved a schedule of revised fees and instituted charges for service to include a new $10 fee (including HST) to apply to local volunteer reference checks performed by the Guelph Police Service.

The fee is effective Sept. 1. There had been no charge for that service prior to the de­cision.

Sergeant Douglas Pflug re­ported that employment refer­ence checks remained at a cost of $30 plus HST.

He said the decision was difficult given the board recog­nized and appreciated the count­less benefits provided by volunteers to the citizens of Guelph. But, he said, the numbers of local volunteer checks had escalated to over 5,000 per year, resulting in significant additional staff time to process the records with no cost re­covery.

The implementation of the $10 fee to provide a local volunteer reference check will help offset the costs of pro­viding the service and will bring the Guelph Police Ser­vice in line with other Police Services in the province.

A check of area police services showed that Welling­ton County has no fee for checks – for volunteers.

County councillors debated having one several years ago, but backed away for the same reason that Guelph was reluc­tant to institute a fee – the benefits provided by volunteers and the wish not to discourage anyone from volunteering.

County Police Services Board Chairman Lynda White said in an email there is a fee for employment reference checks but none for volunteers.

White wrote that “Volun­teers are hard enough to come by in these busy times, so although there is a lot of time spent by an officer to get this information, the board feels at this point in time that to charge could be detrimental.”

OPP Sergeant Susan Gray said in an interview that the length of a police check can vary, depending on whether a volunteer has a criminal record. She said police do the check on computers, but it could take up to two weeks to have a report ready.

“It’s the volume,” she said, noting that there have been times when churches come in with requests for checks on up to 30 volunteers.

“That doesn’t get done over night,” she said.

Gray added that checks for employment are the same as those charged in Guelph – set at $30.

In the Region of Waterloo, Regional Chairman Ken Seil­ing said there has been a fee in place for volunteer checks for several years, and that it has always been set at $10.