Thunder Bay

Requesting a police record check? Make sure it's the right one

Thunder Bay police are asking people to make sure their paperwork is in order before applying for a background check.

Thunder Bay police say many apply for the wrong type of background checks

Thunder Bay police say many people apply for the wrong type of background checks. (Thunder Bay Police)

Thunder Bay police are asking people to make sure their paperwork is in order before applying for a background check.

The police records office gets more than 6,000 requests for police record checks each year, said manager Charmaine Cimini.

The problem is, many of those applications are incorrect, with people applying for checks that don't apply to them, often at the request of potential employers, Cimini said.

"That obviously could be applicant error, or it could be employer error," she said. "We have to make sure that any request for a police records check ... meets the criteria that we are legally bound to adhere to."

"When it doesn't, of course, we have to notify the applicant that we can't do the police records check that they're requesting."

Then, the office's clerks often need to reach out to the employer who requested the check in the first place, to determine what the job's duties are and determine which check is appropriate. In the meantime, the initial application is rendered void, and any fees paid are lost.

Thunder Bay police say many people apply for the wrong type of police records check, which ties up resources. (TBPS/Facebook)

Cimini said there are three types of background checks available:

  1. A police criminal record check, which is the most basic check that queries an applicant's criminal record as contained in the RCMP's national database, as well as local records, as it takes time for a court conviction to make it into the RCMP database.
  2. An information check, which flags the same things as the criminal record check, but also looks for outstanding charges, warrants, or judicial orders.
  3. Finally, a vulnerable sector check, which covers the same ground as the previous two checks, but also queries the pardoned sex offender database.

Cimini said the vulnerable sector check is the one that's not only most-often applied for, but also most-often misapplied for. Most jobs don't need that level of check, she said, and it's only applicable to positions in which a person has a position of authority or trust over vulnerable people, such as seniors or children.

That could include nurses, teachers, educational assistants, or personal support workers.

Cimini said the records office has three clerks. Two of them process applications full-time, while the third handles both application intake and processing.

Cimini said incorrect applications come in daily.

'There is a backlog'

"If I had to guess, I could say four out of 10 could potentially be the wrong application," she said.

And things are busy enough as it is.

"There is a backlog," Cimini said. "Because agencies and organizations are requesting this for everything nowadays, it seems to have increased to the point where we don't have any downtime anymore."

"It's just constant applications going into the queue," she said. "We had 700 applications in the month of April alone."

Cimini said the Thunder Bay Police Service has information about the types of checks and the process on its website.

"The information is there," she said. "We just need people to take the time read it."

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