CPIC stands for Canadian Police Information Centre. Established in 1972, this is a large database that contains information about every active criminal record in Canada as well as anything else the police need to know on a day-to-day basis. It allows police forces across Canada to communicate quickly with each other which makes investigating crimes and locating missing people faster.
This database is maintained by the RCMP. If you need to access your official record, you will request it from the RCMP.
Many people wonder how easy it is to access their Canada criminal record on CPIC. This depends. CPIC has many different levels of access. For example, you could access CPIC right now by entering the VIN number of a used car you are thinking of buying to find out if it’s been stolen.
However, you can’t find out if your neighbour or your daughter’s new boyfriend has a record. Conversely most people cannot access your record without your permission unless they are law enforcement or have enforcement capabilities. For example, border officials (both Canadian and American) can access your record in CPIC. If you are pulled over, a police officer can access your record.
How do employers access CPIC?
Employers, volunteer agencies, landlords, colleges, universities and others access your record by getting your permission or asking you to do the legwork and submit it voluntarily.
When an organization wants a record check, it will ask you to sign a permission slip, or you will be asked to provide it yourself. If you are asked to provide it yourself, you can go to a police station or a private background screening agency. In this initial screening, a search will be done of the Criminal Name Index on CPIC.
If you already know you have a criminal record, you can declare it and the background check will confirm it.
If you have a record and you don’t declare it, your record will come back as “not cleared,” or it will state that a record may or may not exist. In most cases this means you have a record. In order to eliminate the possibility of disclosing a record for a different person with the same name and birthdate, you now need to get your fingerprints taken.
Once you do this, the police will be able to disclose your actual criminal record.
Unfortunately, for many employers and recruitment agencies dealing with a stack of qualified applicants, the initial “not clear” result is enough to convince them to file your application and move on to the next candidate. In some cases, this means that withdrawn charges or other non-convictions can stop you from getting a job. In this case, you will need to request a purge.
Applying for a Record Suspension
Records are first entered into CPIC when a person is arrested. CPIC has automated systems for removing non-conviction charges, but once a conviction is recorded, your record becomes permanent unless you apply through the Parole Board of Canada to remove it.
When you are applying for a Record Suspension, you will need to get your fingerprints taken so that your Certified Criminal Record can be accessed from CPIC. Because not all information gets entered into CPIC, you will also need to get local police checks for the places you have lived in the past five years.
Once the Parole Board of Canada grants your Record Suspension, the record will be removed from the main CPIC database. This means that it can’t be accessed and you can confidently get a record check for the purpose of employment, volunteering or other uses without having to explain the results.
There are a few exceptions in which a background check will still turn up:
At the US border: The US does not recognize Canadian pardons and will not purge them from the CPIC information they have already received.
Vulnerable Sector Check: If you want to work in a position of trust, for example, as a caregiver, for children, the elderly or people with disabilities, you may need to get a Vulnerable Sector Check. This will disclose any sexual offences even if you have received a pardon.
Reoffending: If you are charged with a crime, the Parole Board of Canada can revoke your Record Suspension and the record will be returned to the main database.
Local Police Checks: If a local police department failed to remove your information after a Record Suspension was granted, you may need to make a request. Most police departments will remove this information, but it may not happen right away.
If you have received a Record Suspension or you had an arrest that did not result in conviction you might want to get a record check in case an error was made, and the information was not removed. The small expense of a record check will give you peace of mind and save you grief if you are applying for jobs or other opportunities later.
Applying for a US Entry Waiver
If you are applying to enter the United States with a criminal record, you will also need to access your Certified Criminal Record through CPIC.
Just as the US government does not recognize Canadian Record Suspensions or pardons, they also do not recognize non-conviction findings such as discharges. Even if your record was automatically purged from CPIC, the United States can continue to deny your entry unless you get a Waiver.
If you are ready to put the past behind you by sealing your record, contact us today to get started at 1-866-972-7366.