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All clergy, synod staff, and parish volunteers in parishes deemed sensitive will be required to undergo criminal record or police record checks over the next three years, Diocesan Council has decided.

Many parishes already screen people working in sensitive positions-for example, youth leaders-but until now the procedure has not been mandatory.

The policy is based on one in effect currently at the Diocese of Toronto. Ian Robertson, chair of the diocese's Human Resources Implementation Task Force, told Diocesan Council that Toronto's policies and procedures will be adapted to New Westminster circumstances.

He said the program will be phased in over the next three years, with all clergy and some parishes being screened this year, up to 30 more parishes in 2010, and the remaining parishes in 2011. All new employees and volunteers will require a check. A check must be obtained every three years thereafter.

There will be an information session with Ian Robertson at St. Helen's in Surrey, Saturday, September 12, 10 am  - 12:30 pm. If you have questions or concerns about this process you are encouraged to attend. 

The cost per check ranges from $20 to $60 per person. Costs for screening clergy and synod staff will be covered by the diocese, and parish employees will be borne by parishes. Typically, police will do a criminal record check or police record check free for volunteers, Robertson said. He expects 600 to 800 people will be covered by the policy, and up to 350 persons per year will need to be screened.