Police may charge for non-crucial services

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 09:04 17/12/2012
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Police are considering charging the public for services it deems non- crucial to public safety.

Police have gone out for public consultation on a "cost recovery" proposal for its vetting services, currently provided free of charge.

Currently, any organisation can request police vetting on a potential employee.

It involves police searching its database for information about the person, including past convictions.

The purpose is to protect vulnerable members of society, such as children, older people and those with special needs, if the person could pose a risk to their safety.

Police acting strategy, policy and performance manager Mike Webb said charging for public services was "not a new idea" and doing so would enable police to "focus" its resources on the front line.

He said vetting services were provided around the clock at a cost of about $2.2 million a year. Webb said core police services would continue to be provided free of charge.

"We want to tread carefully. Police [do] not intend to charge for services where that may impact adversely on public safety," he said.

"There are times when some services go beyond [core] responsibilities and introducing cost recovery may be appropriate."

Any fee for the vetting service would be set at a level that was "reasonable", so they did not discourage organisations from undertaking vetting checks, Webb said.

Some fee exemptions could be considered, such as for registered charities.

Other services could follow, such as responses to insurance company inquiries. The public have until March 5, 2013, to make submissions on the proposal.

It will then make a recommendation to the Government.

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