Police background checks of volunteers soaring
May provide a false sense of security, critic says
Ottawa police processed more than 40,000 criminal record checks last year, and demand for the service is growing.
"More and more employers and volunteer organizations are making these [criminal record checks] a requirement," said Brian Caitlin, acting director of the Ottawa police background clearance department.
The demand will increase even more now that the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario will require its 2,000 telethon volunteers to have a criminal record check done.
That move comes after an Ottawa man was charged with stealing credit card information from the CHEO telethon last May.
But the head of a group that links people with volunteering opportunities thinks agencies should stop relying so heavily on criminal record checks to ensure volunteers won't commit crimes.
"People rely on [police checks] because it is kind of shipping it out to someone else to solve your problem," said Will Coukell, executive director of Volunteer Ottawa.
"What voluntary sector organizations have to do is to come up with better ways of doing business so they don't need those police reference checks."
Coukell suggested CHEO staff — rather than volunteers — could record donors' credit card information during the telethon. And he said agencies should consider insuring themselves against theft by volunteers.