Frequently, the question arises on the suitability of Provincial court record checks to perform their corporate due diligence on new hires or existing employees, versus the Enhanced Criminal Record Check.
What information should you know about the differences in the results and what should you consider when making decisions on your background screening processes?
What is a Provincial Court Record Search?
A “provincial court record search” is exactly what the term implies. The results are provincial only, and the records returned are from public court records in that specific province. These checks are conducted by either direct, in-person contact, or if available, an electronic contact/search with the officials in that Province’s court records division.
It is important to note that Provincial Court Records were neither designed or intended to be used for thorough or timely background screening. Accordingly, there are considerations clients should be aware of.
CPIC Criminal Record Checks vs. Provincial Court Record Searches
In the majority of provinces, there is no central search capability within court records using an individual’s name and date of birth. Not all Canadian provinces possess electronic record keeping processes. Contact must be initiated with individual court houses within the county or geographic area and is often based on the address supplied solely by the applicant. For example, to get a criminal record check, Winnipeg might be the region that is searched, instead of the entire country.
Alternatively, searches conducted via the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) will verify the identity of the applicant and cross-reference any records that are returned before publishing the results.
Scope of Searches
Because provincial court records are not linked nationally nor do they have a national search capability, a national search will require multiple provincial searches. To get a complete search of the whole country, individual court searches need to be done for every province, adding to the time and resources needed to conduct the check.
A Basic or Enhanced Criminal Record check, done via the CPIC database, is a national search, returning results from anywhere in Canada.
Costs and Turnaround Times
If a potential “hit” is located during a provincial court record search results can often be delayed while a manual process is initiated to locate the record and associated documentation. Costs and turnaround times can vary dramatically across Canada and may impact the critical timelines required for hiring decisions.
CPIC criminal record checks have a consistent turnaround time, completed within minutes, and the cost doesn’t vary based on the results.
Facts about Provincial Court Record Searches:
There are many considerations to take into account when making a choice between the Enhanced Criminal Record search and the Provincial Court Record search.
- Provincial court records will provide details only on charges and convictions registered in that particular courthouse. Some results may not be relevant to your position and more importantly, may not even be releasable in accordance with Canadian law or best practices. RCMP policy and the application of Canadian laws and regulations during an Enhanced criminal record check protect both the hiring organization and the candidate.
- Provincial court records are held in a variety of jurisdictions. Each jurisdiction has varying retention rules and schedules which can impact the completeness of the search.
- Canadians are increasingly more and more transient and mobile within Canada. Convictions and equally, outstanding charges before the courts outside of the province searched, will not be discovered in just one provincial search.
- Court dockets do not contain information on potentially restrictive bail conditions or prohibitions that may very well limit the availability of an applicant to work with others, or work/travel in a specific area or even times when they cannot be out of their residence.
- If an appeal has been initiated the decision is recorded elsewhere beyond the provincial courthouse, meaning there will be no record in the information located within the courthouse search. The Provincial court records are not updated. Results from Provincial court record searches will not be including details of record suspensions or modified convictions due to appeals. Without this current information a client could unfortunately be influenced by out of date or modified conviction records.
- There is a lack of a formal adjudication process to challenge or question delivered results.
- Searches conducted via CPIC will verify the identity of the applicant and cross-reference results returned before releasing or publishing the results, whereas searches done through the provincial courts do not.
Risk of litigation or unfavourable public opinion from reliance upon incomplete or mistaken results, or a record attributed to a candidate who has received a record suspension should always be a consideration in hiring decisions.
Organizations want to hire the best candidate. Consequently, background screening is conducted to protect guests, customers, or participants; to protect assets; to protect employees and volunteers, and also to protect an organization’s integrity or reputation.
ScreeningCanada uses Canadian police services, with strict and regimented criteria, that reliably access the most current, national data base available. Results are double checked before release.
The RCMP National Repository of Criminal Records notes all indictable convictions across Canada and is current regarding appealed or suspended/pardoned convictions. The additional searches which ScreeningCanada conducts via the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) of outstanding charges, bail conditions, prohibitions, summary convictions, peace bonds and other results, reports and discovers information that is added to the system by police services across the entire Canadian landscape. These results are utilized daily by police and court systems to make evidence-based decisions. The unquestioned reliability and integrity of ScreeningCanada’s pan-national searches is the highest priority.
Complete and comprehensive results from the Enhanced Criminal Record Search allow organizations to be assured that the informed decision they are making with respect to an individual, is the absolute best available in Canada, and in fact, the best in North America. No other jurisdiction has the National, searchable data base as we do in Canada, allowing for fulsome, accurate results returned to hiring managers in as quickly as minutes.
Please contact ScreeningCanada’s highly skilled representatives who can further detail the benefits of the Enhanced Criminal Record Search.
To learn more about criminal record checks in Canada, check out our Ultimate Guide to Criminal Record Checks in Canada.