Fingerprinting will soon be mandatory for all criminal record checks.
Following a 2010 directive from the Justice Canada, the RCMP’s Canadian Criminal Record Information Identification Services department is moving towards mandatory fingerprinting for civil purposes.
Currently, only people requiring a Vulnerable Sector check must provide fingerprints if their gender and date of birth match those of a pardoned sex offender.
Vulnerable Sector Checks are for people who work or interact with such populations as children, the elderly and persons with disabilities.
Robert Mitchell, United Way of Central Alberta CEO, said some organizations that rely on volunteers may be concerned that mandatory fingerprinting will put off potential volunteers.
“It is a concern but we want people to be safe,” Mitchell said.
Ian Warwick, Sunnybrook Farm Museum executive director, said only volunteers at Sunnybrook who work one-on-one with children without staff supervision need criminal record checks so few of his volunteers require checks. But he could see fingerprinting being an barrier for some volunteers, especially older people.
“Privacy is important. They would have pretty serious issues with fingerprinting,” Warwick said.
“You’re presumed guilty when you’re putting your fingerprints into the system. I would think that would cause some challenges for us.”
In an email, RCMP Sgt. Greg Cox, media relations officer in Ottawa, said the use of fingerprints will identify individuals more accurately and alleviate public safety concerns where someone uses a false identity or legally changes their name to evade their criminal past. It will also prevent individuals from being falsely associated with a criminal record that is not theirs.
He said the use of fingerprints to confirm identity is considered an international best practice and is used for positive identification of individuals around the world.
The RCMP is consulting with police departments on the development of the new fingerprint process before proposing a time line for implementation, he said.
However, information obtained by Volunteer Alberta showed that fingerprinting will be required for all Vulnerable Sector checks starting in July 2016 and for all criminal record checks come July 2017.
Cox said Canadian Criminal Record Information Identification Services is also developing consultation and communications plans that will include all impacted stakeholders, such as volunteer agencies.
Mitchell said consultation with stakeholders on mandatory fingerprinting will be helpful.
In July, RCMP began requiring that fingerprints be submitted electronically from police services or accredited companies to improve service and screening accuracy.
According to the RCMP’s website, electronic fingerprint submission takes three days or less, but processing can exceed 120 days when there is a criminal fingerprint match.