Area of Law: Criminal Records
Answer # 2112
RCMP Records ChecksRegion: Ontario Answer # 2112
What is a CPIC check?
A CPIC (Canadian Police Information Centre) check involves a search of criminal records held in various RCMP data banks.
RCMP Investigative Data Bank. A CPIC check of the Investigative data bank can reveal whether a person has been charged with a crime for which there is no outcome – for example, if a person is subject to an outstanding warrant, or if someone is on probation or parole. These records are created, maintained and under the authority of the charging police, even though they are held at the federal level. All law-enforcement agencies and other government CPIC network users can access information in this data bank.
Individuals who want access to their personal criminal records held in the Investigative data bank cannot make the request directly to the RCMP, rather, they must make an LPRC or Freedom of Information request to the local police service which created the record in CPIC. The extent of the information disclosed will depend on the privacy laws and the internal policies of the local police service that created it.
Identification Data Bank. A check of the Identification data bank shows a person’s criminal record supported by fingerprint information. Although the information in this data bank originates from the local charging police services, the RCMP uses it to create and maintain its own records. Both individuals and CPIC network users can make a request to the RCMP for information held in the Identification data bank.
Depending on who is requesting access and the level of detail they require, a variety of information can be obtained from this data bank:
- Criminal Name Index. Only shows if a criminal record (which has not been pardoned or suspended) exists in the Identification data bank for a given name.
- Criminal Records II. If a record exists, this output will only provide the name, date of birth, and criminal convictions.
- Criminal Record Synopsis. This level of output is the most robust and contains personal information, physical characteristics, detailed charging and disposition information (including non-convictions), cautionary codes warning others about the person, and an indication of whether a sample of the person’s DNA has been taken.
What is a Certified RCMP Criminal Record Report?
The RCMP Identification Data Bank contains criminal records supported by the submission of fingerprints. Both CPIC network users and individuals can access information in this data bank. Individuals can make an application directly to the RCMP either under the federal Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act (while this report may provide valuable information, it will not be acceptable for most applications requiring a certified criminal record report), or by requesting a certified RCMP report. For a certified report, fingerprints must be submitted to the RCMP using form C-216C together with a small processing fee. Individuals commonly request this type of report because it is required for many applications, including the following:
- Foreign travel
- Employment or volunteer work
- Immigration or Citizenship
- Name change
- Record Suspension (RS) Application
The RCMP will search the Identification data bank to determine if the fingerprints match a record in their system. In addition to detailed charging information, this data bank also contains information about the outcome of the case and whether the information has been distributed elsewhere (such as to Citizenship and Immigration Canada or the FBI, etc.).
If the individual wishes to have the search results sent directly to a third party, as mentioned previously, the individual must give the RCMP permission to do this through a Consent for Disclosure of Criminal Record Information form.
If no criminal record exists, then a certified result stating this fact, will be provided.If, however, a criminal record does exist, then a certified report, similar to the following, will be provided.
In the past, fingerprints were taken by using ink and rolling out the fingers onto the C-216C form – commonly referred to as the dirty method. Over time, this method is being replaced by digital fingerprinting.
Certified RCMP reports, from the Identification data bank, are divided into two sections:
1. Criminal Convictions, Conditional and Absolute Discharges, and Related Information (the first three columns on the left side)
The first column on the left side of this report shows the final court date and the location of the court. The second column shows the charge and may include the relevant legislation. The third column shows details about the final disposition (outcome) and any punishment, such as whether there was a fine, jail time, probation, and so on. The information on this left side of the report shows charges that resulted in a finding of guilt and is more readily accessible than the information on the right side of the page.
3. Restricted Distribution – Summary of Police Information (the two columns on the right side)
The first column in this restricted section on the right side of this report shows only information related to charges that did not result in a finding of guilt, such as withdrawn and dismissed charges.
This information is not supposed to be as readily accessible because it deals with charges where there was no finding of guilt. Whether an RCMP report provided to a third party will include the Restricted Distribution information depends on why the information is requested, the purpose for which the information will be used, and who made the request. However, as long as there is anything on this side of the page, the individual still has an RCMP Fingerprint Section number (FPS) associated with his or her name and therefore, runs the risk of having the record discovered.
The final column in this report shows where the RCMP has distributed the information. Common places of distribution include other law-enforcement agencies and other government agencies, both domestic and foreign.
Once a criminal record exists, it is up to the individual to take the proper steps to have the record removed.
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, refer to our criminal law section.
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