Area of Law: Criminal Records
Answer # 2103
What is the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC)?Region: Ontario Answer # 2103
The CPIC is a computerized information storage and retrieval system operated by the RCMP on behalf of the nation’s policing community. It contains or provides access to various criminal record data banks. It operates on a 24-hour a day, year-round basis and is located at the RCMP headquarters in Ottawa. CPIC provides instant information about crimes and offenders to over 80,000 law enforcement officers, within 2,882 local police departments, over 750 RCMP detachments, and federal, provincial and territorial agencies across Canada. The users of the information stored by CPIC are called CPIC network users. CPIC also allows these network users to post ‘alerts’ and exchange messages.
CPIC originated from meetings between the federal and provincial attorney generals in 1966 who were concerned with how to better assist the police community in law enforcement. CPIC was ultimately approved by the Treasury Board of Canada in 1967 and became operational on July 1, 1972. A national Advisory Committee, made up of senior police officers from all three levels of government, oversees CPIC’s content, use, and regulation, and also approves network users.
CPIC is the only national information sharing system that links criminal justice and law enforcement partners across Canada. U.S.A. law enforcement officers can also access CPIC information via the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (F.B.I.) National Crime Information Centre (NCIC). Some information, such as information on young offenders, is not supposed to be released to the NCIC.
Accurate CPIC records are necessary not only for the capture of offenders, but also play a critical role in obtaining proper punishments. Although, for the most part, CPIC does provide accurate and vital information used to police our country, it has not been free of controversy. The effectiveness of CPIC has come under fire many times, when different police services failed to share information that could have lead to the earlier capture of criminals, or to more severe punishments. Also, CPIC has been plagued by backlogs of criminal records that have yet to be created or updated by the network users.
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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