Starting on July 1st, 2016, the new mandatory electronic fingerprinting for criminal record checks for federal government employment security screening.

Q1: Why is the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) replacing name-based criminal record checks?

Name-based checks have weaknesses due to variances in spelling, common surnames, use of nicknames, name changes, etc. Fingerprint verification is the only way to effectively and positively confirm the identity of individuals, and prevent them from being associated with a criminal record that is not theirs. To date, the RCMP has used name-based checks for criminal record verifications because the technology did not previously exist to support fingerprint checks. If a name-based check indicated the possibility of an existing criminal record, fingerprints were required to confirm the identity prior to the release of any information. The RCMP has a fingerprint system that now supports the demand for all criminal record checks.

Q2: Why is this higher level of screening necessary?

This is not a higher level of screening but an improvement over the existing process. The data being checked and the information released by the Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services (CCRTIS) remain unchanged. The use of fingerprints provides a higher level of surety.   

Q3: Fingerprinting has always been associated with criminal activity. Is asking for fingerprints not treating individuals like criminals?

Fingerprints have been used for many years to confirm identity and is an internationally accepted ‘best practice’. Fingerprints are often used to confirm identity for purposes unrelated to criminality, including immigration and visas or unlocking digital devices. In the case of criminal records checks, fingerprinting is the only definite way to determine whether an individual has a criminal record, thereby eliminating false associations with criminality.  

Q4: Submitting fingerprints appears to be overly complex and time consuming. Why force people to get their fingerprints taken when their name and date of birth are just as effective?

Submitting fingerprints electronically is easy and convenient. Members of the public submitting a fingerprint for civil purposes can visit an accredited company or a police service with an electronic submission device to have their fingerprints taken. Also, the quickness of electronic results are a direct benefit to employers and applicants, especially those individuals whose application would have otherwise been unnecessarily delayed due to their names being incorrectly associated with those of convicted offenders. The results of name based searches are not as accurate as a fingerprint based searches.

Q5: Won’t this new process create/increase a backlog or increase processing times with the RCMP?

The automation of internal processes as well as electronic responses will actually reduce response times from the RCMP.

Q6: How long does the RCMP keep the fingerprints?

The RCMP does not retain civil fingerprint submissions. Once the submission is completed it is deleted from the RCMP system. At no time are civil fingerprints populated in a database where they could be subject to further search.

Q7: What are the options available for submitting fingerprints?

The RCMP will only accept electronic fingerprints. Electronic submissions must meet the RCMP standards and must be created using either an Electronic Fingerprint Capture Device (Livescan), or by Cardscan where paper-based fingerprints are scanned and converted into an electronic submission.  

Q8: Is there a process established for new employees?

All casual and term employees, students and recruits can have their fingerprints taken by Commissionaires and will be charged at the time of fingerprinting. The cost of this service is approximately $50.00. Individuals may have their fingerprints taken with a local police or RCMP detachment (this could also incur an additional processing fee).