Predators can infiltrate sports clubs, churches with lax background checks
The majority of clubs in the Netherlands do not ask volunteers for a Statement of Good Conduct (VOG). This leaves the door open for sexual predators to gain easy access to children and other vulnerable people, the AD reported.
A VOG is a background that shows someone has nothing on their record that would disqualify them from becoming a volunteer. Only around one in six clubs requested a VOG from their volunteers. Clubs that can prove they have an active policy against misconduct can request a VOG for free. Organizations that do not belong to this group can request a VOG for roughly 40 euros.
"It shows that awareness about the extent of sexual abuse is still very lacking," victims advocate lawyer Richard Korver told the AD. The lawyer said clubs that do not ask for a VOG are being "negligent."
The lawyer has had a case before where a sentenced sexual predator was able to work as a volunteer. "Clubs that do not have this subject on top of their agenda and who do not use the option to request VOGs for free should be ashamed. You can do something to prevent crimes, but you don't," Korver said.
Clubs said there is no ill will behind the lack of enforcement of the VOG. "Many clubs don't get around to it. You're dealing with volunteers who are already busy with training and Saturday matches. It lacks time but also awareness," Erik Lenselink from the sports club union NOC*NSF said.
Joost van Alkemade from the volunteer platform NOV said it is challenging to overview the different organizations. "The Netherlands has so many associations. We can never check all of them. It can go wrong in any small craft club."
The NOC*NSF said that assistance from the government is needed to help smaller clubs enforce background checks. "We hope to able to support them with the help of professionals," Lenselink said.