City backs off on charging for criminal record checks

However, city does go ahead at its Sept. 14 meeting with upping the cost of other police service fees

The city is holding off on increasing fees for criminal record checks following a public backlash over a proposal to charge volunteers.

Council however did go ahead at its Sept. 14 meeting with upping the cost of other police service fees such as fingerprinting and requests for disclosure and reports requiring research.

Carrie Jacobs, the city’s RCMP municipal manager, said the fee increase will more accurately reflect the cost of providing those services.

“We are increasingly being requested by other government agencies, legal counsel and the general public for copies of information from police files,” Jacobs said. “These requests require a significant amount of staff time to locate and compile the data, and expurgate the data for any third party information. The recommended changes to fees and charges are required to establish an equitable approach to recover the costs of staff resources required to provide these services.”

Increased fees for criminal record checks, however, which city council was considering in August, have been put on the back burner until October.

After the Mirror’s report that city staff were recommending council increase the fee for criminal record checks to $50 and implement a $25 administration fee for volunteer criminal record checks, the public voiced concern to City Hall and through letters to the editor to this publication.

Volunteer Campbell River told the Mirror last month that charging volunteers “would be a barrier and a deterrent” to those wanting to give their time.

City council deferred the issue, and asked city staff for more information.

Ross Milnthorp, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture, said city staff will bring a report to council next month that will recommend a joint solution between the city and Volunteer Campbell River. One of those solutions may involve providing public access to the province’s free online criminal record check service for volunteers through the Ministry of Justice.

The Ministry also provides a reduced, $28 fee for criminal record checks related to employment.

Milnthorp said the city recognizes the value of volunteers and the rationale for charging a fee is to help reduce the volume of criminal record checks, and therefore wait times.

While a decision on raising those fees won’t come down until at least October, in the meantime, the city will go ahead with implementing the changes for the other police service fees.

Key changes include a new $25 fingerprint processing fee as required for applications, other than police information checks processed at the Campbell River RCMP detachment, and for people from places such as Port Hardy and Port McNeill who want faster processing services than are currently provided in their community.

For people looking for information that requires research there will be a new fee of $75 for the first hour and $10 for every 15 minutes thereafter.

Accident and crime scene reports will increase from $20 to $35 while a photograph will now cost $25 per transaction plus $1.50 per photo. CDs, DVDs, and other electronic media will cost $25 per transaction plus $0.75 per disk.

A mechanical inspection will now cost $175 while an analyst report will cost $150.