Police record checks, are one type of backgrounds check that can be obtained by an individual for the purpose of employment, volunteering, education programs, adoption, etc.
Police record checks are the least invasive form of record check and simply verifies whether or not a record exists.
In contrast, a vulnerable sector screening, is generally required when working or volunteering with vulnerable populations (e.g., elderly, children, animals). The information provided confirms whether a record exists, as well as, whether any record suspensions for sexual offences exist.
The majority of individuals, with or without a criminal record, will at one point or another need to request a local police check. As employers and volunteer agencies are increasingly asking for background checks, this process is becoming increasingly common.
It is important for individuals to be aware of their rights when employers or volunteer agencies request a record check. In the majority of provinces, individuals cannot be discriminated on the basis of their criminal convictions, if the conviction does not impede on their ability to do their job or place anyone at risk.
Employers must also obtain consent from applicants prior to completing or requesting a background check.
Furthermore, the Human Rights legislations prohibit employers from asking applicants about criminal convictions where a record suspension or pardon has been received.
When an individual wants to obtain a background check for any purpose, there first step is to go to their local police station. There, they are required to fill out a form which will allow them to obtain their local police check. Depending on the district, standard fees may range anywhere from $20-$60, although there are locations that charge $100, while other locations are free.
In addition, many districts have varying wait times to obtain local police record checks as well.
Obtaining a local police record check is relatively simple, aside from the fee and wait time, applicants must fill out a form and indicate their name, date of birth, gender, addresses for the last five years, and driver’s license information if applicable.
Once the process is complete, the police will provide information on whether the check came back “clear” or “not clear”. If the check comes back “not clear”, there is no subsequent information provided on what criminal convictions exists, or why the record came back “not clear”.
It is important to note, that there may exist a number of reasons why a record has come back “not clear”, even though there may not be a criminal conviction.
Individuals with discharged, withdrawn, or stayed charges may have this information on their record. Although this is not considered a conviction, this information will result in a “not clear” outcome on a record check.
Similarly, if individuals have the same name and date of birth as someone who has committed a crime, the record check will come back as “not clear”. As the local police record check only uses name and date of birth to access record information, the confusion between two individuals may consequently occurs.
In these cases, individuals have the ability to have a more in-depth police check done. This police check requires fingerprints, which are used as the unique identifier to separate individuals from one another. This will provide police with the appropriate information to distinguish individuals and provide the proper background check to the applicant.
Additionally, this detailed background check will provide applicants with their criminal history which will indicate whether the “not clear” outcome was the result of a conviction or non-convicted offences.
This process is more invasive than the local police record check and provides convictions, sentences and non-convicted charges that may still appear on a record. This information is provided by the Royal Canadian Mounty Police, and requires additional fees and wait times.
If a record is clear, the company or person requesting the background check will generally not require any further information.