New Brunswick

RCMP security check delays upsets N.B. man

A Saint John man is calling on the RCMP to rethink its recent changes to criminal record checks because of the long waiting time for results to be processed.

A Saint John man is calling on the RCMP to rethink its recent changes to criminal record checks because of the long waiting time for results to be processed.

Jim Beckett said he supports having more stringent screening for anyone who works, or volunteers, with vulnerable people, such as children, the elderly or the disabled.

Beckett applied for a job at a youth residence, so he went to the Saint John Police to get a criminal record check.

Beckett has been a foster parent for more than a decade and been checked regularly, so he said he didn't expect any problems.

"Then the administrative assistant came out and says, 'I got to talk to you. Your name was great, cleared, but your birth date didn't,'" Beckett said.

New security process

Last July, the RCMP changed its policy to make sure pardoned sex offenders who legally change their names didn't slip through the cracks and end up in positions of trust or authority.

Security checks used to be based on the person's name.

When news broke that convicted sex offender and hockey coach Graham James had been pardoned, the RCMP examined whether its screening process would catch a pardoned sexual offender who had changed his or her name.

The RCMP said they found a gap in the process, requiring a more rigorous system.

Now, anyone whose birth date and gender match a convicted sex offender is flagged and has to go through another check, which can take up to four months.

Robert Murray, the manager of the RCMP's civil fingerprint screening services, said the number of screenings jumped from about 2,500 last year to an estimated 40,000 since the changes came into effect.

"We don't want to impede on anybody obtaining employment, or volunteering within their community, but again we have a mandate to maintain public safety within Canada," Murray said.

While Beckett said the RCMP should consider hiring more staff to speed up the process, the RCMP office said there are no plans to do so.

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