There are times where you may be asked to submit to a police or criminal records background check. You may be asked to do so if you are:
- Applying for a new job.
- Applying to rent an apartment.
- Planning to participate in some volunteer activities, particularly with children or vulnerable people such as the homeless or disabled.
- Enrolling in some educational programs.
- Obtaining a licence to practice some types of business or certain professions.
There are all kinds of information about you in police databases. Any time that you had an interaction with the police, even if you just made a complaint, you will have information stored about you on file. Usually, the police will give out information only about criminal convictions, but may provide other information that they feel is relevant to the request as well. They can get this information from other police services, too, including from those in the United States.
There is some information the police cannot provide to a potential employer. This includes any information about your:
- Place of origin.
- Ethnic origin.
- Sexual orientation or same-sex partnership status.
- Marital status.
- Family status.
- Addictions to drugs and alcohol.
- Disability, such as a mental or physical illness.
You can get police or criminal records check forms from your local police force. Usually, you have to submit the form in person at the police station nearest you. However, sometimes your employer will submit your application on your behalf. The police will also want to see documents that prove your identity, such as a driver’s licence or other official documents.
In Ottawa, costs vary on police and criminal background checks depending on your needs. Most times, you as the applicant will have to pay the fee, but sometimes an employer may pay for it. A few volunteer organizations have agreements with the police to dismiss the fee as well.
To find out how much this will cost you as well as other information, such as processing times, please consult the Ottawa Police Service Web site.
Once you have your police or criminal records file, you may also want to make changes to it. The police are only human, after all, and there’s the possibility that some information may be wrong or not complete, or includes embarrassing information that, say, isn’t relevant to you getting a job. You can also write to the police to have information removed or “expunged” permanently – for instance, if you were charged for a crime but were never convicted.