When you're letting strangers supervise your children in sport or community groups, you'd like to think they're not weirdos or criminals.

Being a good judge of character is key but there's also some legal processes some organisations can use to make sure the person has good intentions.

It's called police vetting and it's about to undergo some possible changes.

The public is being asked to give feedback on new legislation that will govern the way police handle requests for a background check on a person's criminal record.


Police get almost 600,000 requests each year for a person's criminal convictions and other relevant police-held information about them, such as active charges.

The service is available to about 10,000 approved agencies including schools and sports associations.

The service differs from that provided by the Ministry of Justice where any individual can request their own criminal history.

In a statement put out by police recently, they said vetting was an important service because it allowed agencies to check that people who worked or volunteered in roles involving children or vulnerable people were of good character.

However, it said it had led to uncertainty and some legal risk around the procedures.

I was contacted frequently by members of the public when we used to published the drink-driving name and shame lists. No one wanted to be seen on that list.

For some, the public knowledge of a conviction outweighed the shame of the actual conviction.

The police no longer supply newspapers nationwide with the lists, citing legal reasons.

I hope for the sake of transparency this new "legislative framework" won't make it difficult for organisations to get information.

It's my view criminal convictions should be available for everyone to look up whenever they like.

If you don't like that idea, stay squeaky clean.

Submissions to the police close on July 13 and can be sent to vettinglegislation@police.govt.nz.