New Challenges with Canadian Criminal Background Checks
January 28, 2010
Last month, we told you that the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) search had been temporarily suspended to all third parties, including employers and background screeners. For those conducting background checks in Canada, this search was supposed to have been the gold standard in criminal searches. Why? Because it includes records from the entire country and is deemed to be the most thorough and reliable search available.
The problem is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are concerned that the identifiers on record, name and date of birth are not enough to conclude that a criminal record belongs to an individual. I would suggest that those two identifiers are exactly what is needed to confirm that a record belongs to an individual as long as the subject of the search has the ability to dispute the results.
I found the most concise article I have seen on the revisions to the CPIC policies written by Dan Michaluk and I encourage you to check it out if you conduct background checks in Canada. Here’s the most insightful information I found in the article as it applied to employers.
Response to basic searches highly qualified
The RCMP direction on information provided in response to searches based on name and date of birth only – so called “Criminal Name Index/Criminal Record Synopsis” searches – dictates what agencies can say in response to a request. If, for example, a name and date of birth search does produce a match, the RCMP has directed agencies to respond as follows:
Based solely on the name(s) and date of birth provided, a search of the National Criminal Records repository maintained by the RCMP could not be completed. In order to complete the request, the applicant is required to have fingerprints submitted to the National Criminal Records repository by an authorized police service or accredited private fingerprinting company. Positive identification that a criminal record may or may not exist at the National Criminal Records repository can only be confirmed by fingerprint comparison. Not all offences are reported to the National Criminal Records repository. A local indices check may or may not reveal criminal record convictions that have not been reported to the National Criminal Records repository.
The RCMP says this qualified statement is necessary in order to ensure accurate identification of individuals with criminal records. While understandable, there is currently no expeditious process for verifying a criminal record. The RCMP says its current verification process can take more than 120 days to complete when a criminal record is encountered. Individuals must attend at a local police station or certified fingerprinting agency to start the verification process, but results can be delivered directly to employers.
As you can see, these new policies make it extremely difficult for employers to conduct a background check through this system. It’s great for determining if someone does not have a criminal record, but when they do, confirming the record is extremely challenging and time-consuming. One of two things is going to happen. Employers will stop using this resource and go back to searching by province or they’ll continue to use the search and not hire individuals when they find that the individual has a possible record. Both scenarios come with their own perils.