Record check changes will delay results

Records checks for people working with "vulnerable sectors" will be taking longer due to policy changes coming into effect soon.

Records checks for people working with “vulnerable sectors” will be taking longer due to policy changes coming into effect soon.

Vulnerable sectors would include youth, seniors and those with disabilities.

Staff Sergeant Paul Thalhofer is warning organizations to get their applications for background checks (known as police information checks and referred to often as criminal record checks) in sooner rather than later, as checks which would have taken about an hour will soon take six to eight weeks.

For those whose names raise some flags due to similarities with known offenders or other concerns and therefore require fingerprints, checks could take as long as two to three months.

While electronic fingerprinting will help speed up checks for those needing fingerprinting, unfortunately Fort St. James’ RCMP detachment does not have an electronic fingerprint machine, and while they are looking into getting one, each one currently costs $40,000, and every small detachment across the country will be looking to get one.

“It’s not really in the budget right now,” said Thalhofer. Ottawa will no longer be taking hard copy fingerprints after 2014, so many detachments will be facing the same issue.

The nearest electronic finger-printing device is in Prince George, and their ability to do this service for Fort St. James applications will depend on how busy they are as well. People applying for checks who need finger-printing would have to travel to Prince George to have them done.

The new, more in-depth checks into peoples’ backgrounds will also include going from a one-page form for the check to a seven-page form.

“It’s going to create more work for us at the detachment as well,” said Thalhofer.

The additional time to complete the checks means it could be harder to get through them all as the priority will remain with criminal code-related work and checks will take place when members have time.

The policy changes are expected to come into effect at the end of the summer.