Thursday, May 19, 2011

B.C. criminal records now searchable on-line

I'm feeling very divided about a new B.C. government initiative that makes all criminal records searchable, on-line, for free.
The media person inside me is pretty damn excited about it, because it means I can plug in the name of anyone I'm writing about just to see if they might have a criminal record - and hey, that's kind of cool when you're in the business of scrounging up information on people. It also makes it a heck of a lot easier for people who have to do criminal-record checks on volunteers, as it ends that slow business of having to go to the police station and wait (not to mention pay money in some cases).
But the social-advocate side of me is thinking whoa, this is wild. Can't you see every employer in the city wanting to run every staff member's name to see if they have a criminal record? Is that good?
The initiative appears to have emerged with virtually no media attention - I found out only because a friend in the social-services sector sent me the link. It's being done in the name of transparency, but I just don't know if it's good to remove all transparency around someone's criminal record. Traffic violations are now public, too.
It's certainly going to make it more difficult to "put it all behind you." It could make it very difficult for people who commit comparably minor crimes to get a job, regardless of whether their crime has anything to do with the kind of work they were trying for.
***
Just found out this came about in the fall due to a series done by TC reporter Lindsay Kines. I'm a fan of Lindsay's work, but still not quite sure how to feel about this new freedom.



8 comments:

Dave Killion said...

"Can't you see every employer in the city wanting to run every staff member's name to see if they have a criminal record? Is that good?

I think it is. In earlier times, communities were small enough that it was more difficult to conceal one's reputation. This created an incentive to behave that is missing to some degree in today's more impersonal society.

worker who cares said...

As a worker in Social Services, we have had to have a CR search every 5 years. Nothing is new except they are more in-depth now. Pardon or not...

As for other sectors, wait until everyone starts to search out future or current employees, (hopefully including co-managers), and see what is in everyone's closet. We may not have any more people who are eligible to work anywhere.. I can see this being horribly abused. For a government who initially brought in a very strict privacy act, they are creating havoc everywhere. This won't be an incentive as Dave K. says, it will destroy many families now who are trying to get their lives together.

By the way, I just learned last night that anyone can access your information not just your employer. We had to sign forms for them to do it. What an open, transparent government we have....

Bernard von Schulmann said...

I find it depressing. The list of what people have done is mostly petty stuff and is something we really need to know about others?

I have worked with many very good men that had a rough time in their 20s and then turned their lives around. This is going to be a barrier to success

Anonymous said...

I just searched for "Gordon Campbell"... no records for Gordon Muir Campbell. Why would GMC have a record?

"In January 2003, Campbell was arrested and pled no contest for driving under the influence of alcohol while vacationing in Hawaii. According to court records Campbell's blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit. In Hawaii, drunk driving is only a misdemeanour, in Canada it is a Criminal Code offence." - Wikipedia

It should be noted that for some reason there are 2 records that are "LIMITED ACCESS" and "Access Restricted" - one wonders who? and why?

Jody Paterson said...

An answer for Anonymous - Gordon Campbell was never convicted of drunk driving in B.C., and these records are strictly for cases in a B.C. courtroom. His drunk-driving conviction was in the U.S., where he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and was fined $913.

withheld by request said...

I note that some of those with protected records show up in links to court documents through google, despite the name being stricken from the individual court record.

Errors have also been written in to the public record, some obvious, some not. I also note that birth & death dates are included, perhaps maiden names as well. How intriguing the number of records with death dates of 1900 that are included.

Where are pickton's, or olsen's records?

This is another example of government-run-amok. How much has the taxpayer spent on this abortion of justice?

Somebody must challenge this blatantly unconstitutional practice.

geographical profile henry said...

With criminal records being accessible I find that society is placing everyone in the same vein of truth. I personally like it big time that I can dig in your backyard, in fact, I can't wait. What goes around comes around.

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