Dusting for Prints – Increased Fingerprinting and Criminal Record Checks Delays Hiring

The prospect of having one’s fingerprints taken as part of the job application process can seem intimidating, to say the least. Not only could a person be taken aback to learn that all information provided on a resume and during an interview would not be sufficient to make a hiring decision, but he could also be somewhat unsettled to learn that a criminal record check, and sometimes a credit check as well, must be undertaken.

The RCMP’s Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC), a national database, contains a range of useful information maintained primarily for law enforcement. Increasingly, though, it is also an important source of information for employers screening new hires and prospective promotions because it is the only national database of criminal records.

Alternatively, through a “local indices check,” a check of police files and occurrence reports within a region, a broad range of information can be provided. However, the RCMP has issued an interim policy directing what local police forces can say in response to basic searches based on a name and date of birth search alone. If an individual is found to have a record based on such a search, the response is to be:

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.

This qualified statement is deemed necessary to ensure accurate identification. But there is no expeditious process to verify a criminal record. The RCMP’s current verification process can take more than 120 days to complete. The process requires the individual to go to a police station or other certified fingerprinting service. Furthermore, the results of this drawn out process are delivered to the employer – not the prospective employee – not allowing for a chance to explain or justify any erroneous circumstances.

This time factor has significant impact on employers to be sure. The potential delays in making hiring decisions will prove problematic: Will employers risk waiting to hire verified candidates, only to possibly lose them to other employers? Will they bear the risk of hiring non-verified applicants on an interim basis?

Employer reliance on local indices checks is concerning, to be sure. They take time, as we know, but they also leave questions about coverage and human rights compliance – the process needs to be fair and justifiable, both ethically and legally.

Avoid the issue before it becomes detrimental. Get a criminal record check and if there is a need and the situation allows apply for a Canadian Pardon – it is a right of every Canadian. With a pardon no employer will be able to see previous convictions on the search mentioned above. 

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