What is a Police Background Check?
A police background check is a search of the police agency’s databases which contains information the police have collected and retained throughout the course of their criminal investigations and other contact the police have had with members of the public.
A police background check is also referred to as a police information check or a police reference check.
What is a Criminal Record Check?
A criminal record check discloses any criminal convictions you have received for which you have not received a pardon or a criminal record suspension.
What is a Vulnerable Sector Check?
A vulnerable sector check is similar to a police background check. The difference is that a vulnerable sector check will also disclose information about prior convictions for sexual related offences and violent offences where the person has received a pardon or criminal record suspension.
A vulnerable sector check will often be requested by an employer when it is anticipate you will have contact with children or other individuals who would be considered in a vulnerable position.
What kind of information can the Police disclose?
The police collect all types of information based upon criminal investigations that they conduct and any other contact the police have with the public. The police collect and retain information regarding;
- Being charged with a criminal offence and the charge subsequently withdrawn.
- Being found not guilty to a criminal charge.
- Receiving an absolute of conditional discharge as a result of criminal charges against you.
- Entering into a Peace Bond.
- A complaint made against you but you are never charged with a criminal offence.
- Being a person of interest in a criminal investigation.
- Being a person under police surveillance.
- An alleged victim of a crime.
- A witness to a criminal offence.
- Your name coming up in the course a police investigation into another person.
- Contact with police due to event involving a mental health issue or need.
When can I be requested to complete a Police Background Check?
Requests for police background checks are becoming more common by prospective employers as well as organizations looking to fill volunteer positions. Some prospective employers who are likely to request a police background check are those who work with children, any position where you would be in possession of large amounts of money, or in possession of sensitive information. Regulated professions may also require that you complete a police background check.
Do I have to consent to a Police Background Check?
No. However, if you do not consent to completing a police background check or consent to a prospective an employer completing a check, the prospective employer will generally be permitted to disregard your application.
Can a Police Background Check be complete without my knowledge?
In nearly all circumstances a police background check cannot be done without first obtaining your written consent. However, under the Police Services Act the police are permitted to disclose information that would appear on a police background check in circumstances where the police have reasonable ground to believe that disclosing the information will prevent risk or harm to another individual.
How do I get a Police Background Check done?
You must attend a local police station and complete an application. Not all police stations your region will accept a request for a background check. You may have to attend the police headquarters for your region. Some employers may require that you complete a police background check in the region which your employer is located, which may be different from the region where you are living.
A criminal record check, a police background check and a vulnerable sector check all cost money. The fee will depend upon the type of check that you request and what police agency you make from.
What if there is inaccurate or incorrect information on a Police Background Check?
You can apply to the local police agency and request that they correct any information which is inaccurate or incorrect. You should provide the police with written reasons why the information is inaccurate or incorrect and include any documentation that supports your claim that the information is inaccurate or incorrect. For example, if a police background check shows that you are currently facing criminal charges however these charges have been previously withdrawn, you should include a copy of the court Information that proves the charges were withdrawn.
If the police refuse your request for correction, you can appeal to the Information and Privacy Commission. Information about appeals to the Information and Privacy Commissioner and the appropriate forms can be found here.
How do I get information on my Police Background Check removed?
If you complete a police record check and there is a non-conviction record, you have to apply to the police agency where you had your police background check. Most police agencies will have an application form available online. If you believe that more than one police agency has information that will appear on a police background check then you must apply to all the appropriate police agencies.
Have a question about police background checks? Call me or email me today.
For more information about police background checks read the following article by the Information and Privacy Commissioner.