How Police Checks are Used to Keep Society and Citizens Safe

April 20th, 2015

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It is the right of every Australian citizen to be safe in their daily lives – whether it is in their own homes, at work, or while using a service provider. Besides using our common sense and basic instincts, we can now rely on formal processes such as police checks to verify whether a stranger is trustworthy and of a good standing.

Police checks allow organisations to get a glimpse into a person’s history, revealing any prior criminal convictions that could potentially be a risk to their organisation, its people, and more importantly those members of public utilising the organisation’s services. While it is common knowledge that police checks are mandatory for those working with children, the aged, and the vulnerable, there are a number of other roles that require and deserve such safety precautions. This article will identify some of these unobvious circumstances for which a police check is mandatory to ensure that citizens are comfortable and safe if having to use such services.

Healthcare professionals

It is necessary for doctors, nurses, dentists, optometrists, and other healthcare professionals (including aged care workers) to undergo Criminal History Checks before beginning practice in their chosen disciplines. These roles can involve working with people when they’re at their most vulnerable – when they’re mentally and/or physically fragile, paralysed, or unconscious. It is imperative to make sure that the people performing these roles are reliable and trustworthy, to not only maintain the patient’s’ faith in the service provider, but to also prevent any exploitation and unlawful or unconscionable activity.

The role of a healthcare professional is extremely important, and making candidates undergo police checks is vital in ensuring that vulnerable patients are not treated by someone who poses a risk of harm to them.

IVF applicants

In Victoria, it is a legislative requirement for anyone who plans to undergo assisted reproduction to conduct a police check. This law is designed to protect the interests of the children born under such circumstances – in an attempt to test whether the applicant is fit for parenthood and has the ability to care for and be responsible for a child.

This practice is controversial because it applies exclusively to IVF parents, while those who conceive naturally can bypass this parenthood threshold ‘test’. The Victorian parliament, nevertheless, has decided to apply a proactive approach to determining a would-be parent’s character and ability to care for a child, even if it is currently limited to only IVF applicants.

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Bus drivers

Bus drivers, like pilots and ship captains, have complete control over their passengers’ lives and safety for the duration of a journey. Given that thousands of citizens commute on public buses everyday, it is essential to make sure that the drivers taking them to their destination are of credible and sound character. In order to avert any risk of unnecessary harm to the public, state transport authorities require bus drivers to undergo police checks to ensure that they are individuals who can be entrusted with the lives of many others.

Taxi drivers

Similarly to bus drivers, taxi drivers have complete control over the lives of their passengers. Yet, given that they often interact with passengers travelling by themselves, or going to destinations they are not necessarily familiar with, it is even more crucial to make sure that they are trustworthy and have not committed past offences that could be a risk to passengers. Even more modern taxi services like Uber, which is becoming very popular in Australia and around the world, have stringent safety checks for all of their drivers, including Australian police checks to ensure the safety of their passengers come first.

Liquor license manager

Anyone who applies to be a manager of a venue holding a liquor license is required to undergo a police check. This is a highly regulated domain, as a liquor license manager is responsible for overseeing the serving of alcohol in an entire venue. Managers are expected to act responsibly, and owners of venues – along with government departments – need to be confident in their ability to run a safe and responsible establishment.

Teachers

Teachers exercise a high degree of influence over the lives and minds of children. Given the power dynamic and the frequency of their involvement with minors, it is very important to verify a teacher’s character and credibility prior to approving their employment. While obvious criminal convictions such as violent or sexual assault, should automatically deem them unsuitable for the role, sometimes more ambivalent criminal records could be relevant to their ability to be good teachers and role models. For example, past history of animal cruelty, while not directly posing a risk of harm to the children, could give you an insight into their personalities, and their ability to teach children the social values that parents would want their children to learn.

Police checks are conducted, and are useful for, a variety of occupations or roles within Australia, however the examples provided in this article highlight some of the areas where this process is imperative for the safekeeping of citizens going about their daily lives. So, the next time you go to visit your doctor, you can be assured that you know they have had a police check and you will be in verified hands!

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Hayden Langhorn

Hayden Langhorn is the Managing Director at Intercheck Australia. He is a leading expert in pre-employment screening and is passionate in helping businesses to reduce employment risks while scaling up their businesses.