Speed, Cost and Reliability, But Above All: Reliability

Posted Thursday, January 11th, 2018 by Chuck Walker, Sterling Talent Solutions

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Criminal Record Checks: Speed, Cost and Reliability, But Above All Reliability

Lately, consumers of criminal record check services in Canada have been confronted with a range of attractive options including competitive pricing, seemingly hassle-free ID verification options and turnaround times in as little as 15 minutes. These types of services require employers to ask the following:

  • Are some of these features too good to be true and how would consumers know if they are – before it’s too late?
  • Could you be sacrificing reliability in favor of expediency?
  • If you’re paying for a service, shouldn’t it be reliable every time and not just some of the time?

How many uninformed or ill-informed hiring decisions does it take to offset the investment you make on pre-employment screening?  The answer to these questions is that it could be as little as one. In the apparent “race to the bottom” in areas of cost and turnaround times, it is perhaps timely to consider the processes behind a name-based criminal record check and what these should entail.

Name-based Criminal Record Checks

There are two ways to access Canadian criminal record information.  One uses the Criminal Name Index searching feature of the CPIC system – the other involves submitting the applicant’s fingerprints to the RTID system. The latter will result in what’s known as a certified criminal record product. This provides an unequivocal rendering of conviction and pending charge information held at the National Repository maintained by the RCMP attributed to the applicant based on fingerprints.

Roughly ninety percent of all civil criminal record checks conducted in Canada today however, rely on the name-based method. This is because in the current environment, name-based searches provide organizations and applicants with many attractive features:

  • They’re fast
  • They’re convenient
  • They’re comparatively inexpensive
  • And yet they’re comparatively reliable when properly conducted

Paramount to achieving effective and reliable name-based criminal record check results that are worth the money that organizations pay for them is the need to follow procedures where applicant identity verification is conducted properly. In Identity Verification – A Critical Building Block for Reliable Results I stated, “As further evidence of its efficacy, police also use the name-based method to expediently obtain criminal record information from CPIC so that they can function effectively in the real-time operational environment. Search warrants are obtained, arrest warrants are executed, investigative leads pursued and tactical decisions made – all supported using name-based criminal record queries that occur more than eighty million times per year.”

Once the proper foundation is laid to support the name-based search, most applicant files transit the process without difficulty and organizations can rely on the results they receive.

Is Fingerprinting the Best Next Step?

There are two scenarios however that do occur with name-based searches which require careful consideration about whether fingerprinting of the applicant is the prudent next step to take.

  • A close match to the applicant’s biographical information can create a scenario where the result of a name-based check is inconclusive. The risks here are that the applicant may evade being linked to his/her criminal record or conversely, that a criminal record could be misattributed to an applicant.
  • An open Fingerprint Services (FPS) file may be found on CPIC matching the name of the applicant. This is an indication that the applicant was charged with a criminal offence for which a conviction may exist that has not yet been added to the National Repository. Failing to identify this possibility to the client means the organization adjudicating a hiring decision could be doing so while missing information.

When provided with a recommendation to have the applicant fingerprinted, some organizations have opted instead to send the applicant his/her local police service for a second name-based check. While doing so may secure for the organization the sought after “clear” finding, the goal of uncovering the missing conviction information will not be achieved using this approach.

Sterling Talent Solutions’ Criminal Record Check Protocols

Our competitors don’t utilize the protocols that Sterling Talent Solutions’ Police Partner Agency relationships have enabled us to implement. Police services do not necessarily follow our name-based process either and given there are 2500 police jurisdictions in Canada, one can appreciate that local processes will vary. Sterling’s processes are exhaustive so when an inconclusive finding is reached, it means that it is not possible to say without a fingerprint comparison, that the subject applicant is “clear”.

Sterling’s protocols are designed to ensure that a fingerprinting recommendation is only made after a careful process of elimination has been applied – leaving just those few applicant files where to do anything other than recommend fingerprinting would be irresponsible. Our processes are why we do not, and cannot, offer a 15-minute criminal record check. Instead, we provide a reliable result derived from procedures which will include an informed recommendation to our clients to fingerprint in those rare instances where even our processes cannot reach a conclusive determination.

It can be tempting to place more value on speed and the receipt of a clear result than on integrity of the process and the quality of the product. Sterling believes such choices are often made due to a lack of information about what constitutes a reliable process. We understand the need for timely responses in a competitive environment and can provide single business day turnaround times for applicants whose name-based criminal record check can be completed reliably. Close name matches, open file situations, and the cross checking of “not clear” results to ensure their accuracy are processes that take time to complete when ensuring reliability – more time than 15 minutes.

The name-based process is fast, secure, convenient and reliable when conducted properly and responsibly. Ensuring a reliable process requires proper identity verification steps be taken at the front end followed by the proper treatment of results on the back end – two things that Sterling Talent Solutions leads in. Sterling is excited to be at the 2018 HRPA Conference in Toronto January 31st through February 2nd. Stop by Booth 615 to Find more information about Sterling’s hiring solutions from criminal record checks to employment verifications and how we offer comprehensive employment background screening solutions that allow you to hire with confidence.