Police vetting for early learning services
Obtaining Police vets is an essential method of keeping children safe. Find out about your responsibility to obtain Police vets and how the vetting process works.
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Police vetting procedures must be undertaken for adults who have unsupervised access to children in early learning. This is required under both the Children’s Act 2014 and the Education and Training Act 2020. Services must also comply with the Privacy Act 2020 when handling information obtained through a Police vet.
This page provides information about Police vetting for early learning services at the licensing stage. 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.
Police vets at governance level are also part of the process of applying for network approval. Please check the network approval information here.
- What is a Police vet?
- Who needs to be vetted and when does a vet need to be done?
- Police vets obtained by other organisations
- How to request a Police vet
- Allow enough time for processing
- Guidelines for risk assessments required under Schedule 4 of the Education and Training Act 2020
- Managing Police vetting information
- Overseas workers
- Sharing vets
- Further information
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.
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 Schedule 4 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link), a Police vet must also be obtained for:
- non-teaching and unregistered employees before the person begins work at the service; and
- contractors and their employees before the person has, or is likely to have unsupervised access to children.
Adults living in a home where a home-based service operates must be Police vetted
Under Schedule 4 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link), you must Police vet anyone 17 years of age or above who lives in a home where home-based education and care is being provided.
- If the adult lives in a home that becomes licensed for home-based education and care, you must obtain their Police vet before the service begins to operate.
- If the adult moves to a home that is already being used for home-based education and care, you must obtain their Police vet before they move in.
Police vets are required even if the person is unlikely to be present when the service is operating.
Further Police vets every 3 years
All Police vets must be renewed and corresponding risk assessments completed every three years.
The Teaching Council
You are not required to request a Police vet for a teacher who has been issued a current practicing certificate by the Teaching Council. This is because the Council will only approve a practising certificate 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.
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).
It can take up to 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.
The assessment of information returned in a Police vet to determine whether the person would pose a risk to the safety of children must take into account the following:
- relevance of the information and risk to the role being vetted for (e.g. whether there are any matters relating to children or other vulnerable people),
- the nature and severity of the information (e.g. whether the individual was charged, acquitted, convicted or required to complete an educational program),
- whether there is a pattern of similar information,
- the individual’s age at the time the relevant matters occurred,
- the amount of time that has passed since the relevant matters occurred,
- the individual’s conduct since the relevant matters occurred,
- any other aggravating/mitigating factors.
Note the Police vetting requirements under Schedule 4 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link) are for relevant persons who are not children’s workers. They do not limit or otherwise alter the requirements for safety checking of children’s workers required under the Children’s Act 2014.
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.
All information must be managed in accordance with the Privacy Act 2020(external link), the Education and Training Act 2020(external link), the Children's Act 2014(external link) and any other enactment.
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 and Training Act 2020 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 and Training Act 2020.
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