Robbing Peter to pay Paul. A money merry-go-round. These are some of the ways Helga Wientjes, Chair of ComVoices grouping of community & voluntary sector organisations, describes the police vetting legislation before Parliament. NZCCSS Executive Officer Trevor McGlinchey was among the submitters trying to persuade the Select Committee to change clauses in the legislation.
The Government is increasing the extent of the requirements for police vetting of volunteers and staff working with children. There is wide support for this approach to help improve the safety of children but the NZ Police are understandably concerned about the additional administrative burden a greatly extended vetting system will place on their work. The Police (Cost Recovery) Amendment Bill that is currently before Select Committee proposes to charge on a cost recovery basis for the police vetting service.
NZCCSS in its submission pointed out that setting up a payment system where most of the work is done by government-funded organisations creates a deep and expensive inefficiency. In essense, one government agency, the NZ Police will be setting up a charging system (that currently does not exist) to charge community and voluntary groups for police vetting who will have to account for and pay for this service out of government-funded contracts. This will further add to the administrative workload of both the Police and the social service organisations – effectively adding “transaction costs” on top of the actual cost of administering police vetting.
Without additional government funding the level of service provided to New Zealanders in need will decrease. This is likely to create pressure on government to pay more to compensate for both the vetting cost and the organisational costs in making this payment.
A better way
A better system is to fund the Police directly for the cost of regular vetting. Particularly for services which are government funded and for which government has created a legal requirement for this vetting to occur. The is no “market” for police vetting, it is a legislative requirement for the organisations involved and can only be done by the NZ Police.
Simply funding the police for the additional cost of administering the additional vetting applications makes more sense and ensures that no further funding is directed into administration costs in organisations that are focused on delivering services to children and their families.
Read the full NZCCSS submission on our website: