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The Current Backlog In RCMP Criminal Record Checks

by Rwill

In Canada, getting a criminal record check is becoming an increasingly common activity. As more employers and volunteer organizations perform background checks on prospective employees and volunteers, the need for a record check, which is requested from and performed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, has significantly risen. In light of this, the news that many people are now waiting months to receive their criminal record check is disconcerting.

Making checks more thorough

According to police sources, the reason for the delays is not so much the increase in demand as the current trend to crack down on serious crime. In effect, the RCMP is working on making the record checks more thorough. A Canadian criminal record check does not normally reveal pardoned convictions; however, people who have committed certain violent crimes and sexual offences are flagged in the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database, which records criminal activity. If the purpose of the criminal record check is to gain a position working with “vulnerable sector” people (children, elderly and disabled people), the applicant is subjected to a more thorough check and is required to disclose his conviction for security purposes.

And it is precisely from the vulnerable sector that many of the demands for a background check are coming. As the police and organizations that help children and the infirm strive to increase public safety, the need to screen out these more serious offenders is resulting in a heavier workload for the police.

In order to make a search more thorough, the RCMP must get around identity problems. In order to circumvent a criminal record check, some ex-convicts change their name, get new identification, and do not inform the police of the fact. For this reason, the RCMP checks applications against those of people with the same gender and birth date in the CPIC database and compare fingerprints with those of the applicant.

Several difficulties arise from this. A birth date search may reveal multiple matches from which an individual needs to be picked out. Regarding fingerprints, these are normally taken at a police station; if the police department has a fingerprint scanner, it can send them to Ottawa electronically, speeding up the record check dramatically. But if the department has no scanner, the fingerprints have to be sent to Ottawa for processing, which adds weeks to the checking process.

Possible solutions

Several solutions have been proposed to deal with this problem:

Ensuring that all police forces acquire fingerprint scanners.
Changing the law to mandate that criminals register a change of name with the police.
Changing the law to prevent sexual offenders from receiving pardons. This approach may appeal to those who agree with the current “get-tough-on-crime” political climate. While the main aim of such a measure would be to punish serious offenders, there would be the practical side effect of more transparency during background checks.

Whatever solution is found in the end, it is hoped that having a criminal record check done will gradually be streamlined into a quicker, more efficient process; until then, those undergoing a background check will have to submit to long waiting times and the consequences that arise from them. Perhaps, however, this is a small price to pay for increased public safety.

Ned Lecic lives and works in Toronto. He is a writer for a Canadian pardons agency.

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Question by : Can an RCMP Inspector bring a firearm into USA?
A vital witness in a Canadian homicide investigation resides in the USA. An RCMP Inspector travels there to interview that witness. My question: could that Mountie legally cross the border bearing a firearm? Under what provisions of the law would he be able to do so? Many thanks!

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Answer by mega
The Mounties would probably have to clear the crossing with US Border Patrol, let them know ahead of time that one of their own is armed and is coming across.

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