What is

Criminal Record Check


A criminal record check is a process conducted by law enforcement agencies or other authorized organizations to review someone’s criminal history. Learn more.

A criminal record check (a.k.a., police background check or criminal background check) is a process conducted by law enforcement agencies or other authorized organizations to review someone’s criminal history. The process aims to check whether they have ever been involved in criminal activities.

Criminal record checks are usually requested by employers, volunteer organizations, schooling institutions, or government agencies as part of their candidate screening process. In sectors where workers will be involved with vulnerable groups like children or people with disabilities, this is especially important.

The purpose of a criminal record check is to ensure the safety and security of the organization and its members or clients. It helps employers and organizations make informed decisions about hiring or accepting individuals into positions of trust or responsibility.

A criminal record check can usually tell you about:

  1. Arrests or convictions: Has your potential employee been arrested or convicted of a crime? Details of any past arrests and convictions may come up, ranging from minor to serious.
  1. Warrants: You can usually find information on any outstanding arrest warrants for the individual.
  1. Court records: Documented legal proceedings, including charges, convictions, and court dispositions.
  1. Criminal offences: Information on crimes committed, such as theft, assault, drug offences, fraud, etc.
  1. Sex offender registry: Details of any registered sex offenders.

Note that criminal record checks require the individual's consent. You also need to ensure you comply with local laws and regulations on privacy and data protection. Luckily, Borderless can help you understand what local legal compliance looks like, even if you’re performing background checks on international employees.

In many countries, certain types of offences or convictions may be considered spent or sealed after a specified period, depending on the severity of the crime and local legislation. Because of this, these records might not appear in a standard criminal record check after the designated time has passed. However, this can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another.


How Can I Get a Criminal Record Check? 

The process of getting a criminal record check can vary depending on your location and the purpose for which you need the check. Here are some general steps to guide you through the process:

  1. Why do you need a criminal record check? First, identify the reason you need one. Employment-based checks can be different than those for volunteer work and education for example, so you should understand the logistics behind employment checks, specifically. Different organizations can also have varying requirements and procedures.
  1. Who will do your background check? Find out which government agency or organization is responsible for conducting criminal record checks in your area or jurisdiction. Often, this would be the police department or a designated law enforcement agency.
  1. Get the paperwork: Contact the authorities to get the necessary application forms and information on the documentation you’ll have to provide. This can include identification documents, proof of address, and other documents.
  1. Fill out the application form: Complete your application form with accurate information. Be sure to double-check all details before submitting it to avoid any delays in processing.
  1. Pay the fees: A fee is usually associated with obtaining a criminal record check. Ensure that you pay the required amount as instructed by the authority.
  1. Submit the application: Once you have completed the form and gathered all necessary documents, submit your application to the appropriate authority. This can often be done in person at a police station or through an online portal, depending on your location.
  1. Wait for processing: The time it takes to process a criminal record check can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the complexity of the request. In some cases, you may receive the results within a few days, while in others, it might take several weeks.
  1. Get your results: Once the criminal record check is complete, you will receive the results either in the form of a certificate or a letter indicating whether you have a criminal record or not.

You should note that the specific process and requirements for obtaining a criminal record check can vary significantly between different countries and even within regions of a country. It's essential to follow the guidelines provided by the relevant authority to ensure a smooth and accurate process. If you have any doubts or questions, reach out to the appropriate authority for clarification.

When conducting employee criminal record checks, it's crucial to keep in mind that the presence of a criminal record should not automatically disqualify a candidate from employment.

Different offences may have varying levels of relevance to the job at hand. You should know which means what and assess each case individually and fairly. There are, however, some red flags that may warrant further investigation or consideration before making a hiring decision.

Some common red flags to look out for are: 

  1. Violent offences: Convictions for violent crimes like assault, robbery, or domestic violence could be concerning, especially if the job involves interaction with vulnerable populations or handling sensitive situations.
  1. Sexual offences: Convictions related to sexual offences may be significant red flags, particularly for positions that involve working with children, the elderly, or any situation requiring a high level of trust.
  1. Dishonesty or fraud: Candidates with convictions related to fraud, embezzlement, or other forms of dishonesty could pose a risk, especially for positions involving financial responsibilities or handling sensitive information.
  1. Drug-related offences: Depending on the nature of the job, convictions related to drug offences might be relevant, particularly for roles that require operating heavy machinery or handling controlled substances.
  1. Repeat offences: Multiple convictions, especially for similar types of offences, may indicate a pattern of behavior that could be concerning for certain job roles.
  1. Relevancy to the job: Consider whether the nature of the offence is directly related to the responsibilities of the job in question. Some offences may be less relevant if they don't pose a risk to the specific role or the organization.
  1. Recent convictions: Recent offences may be more relevant than older ones, as they might indicate a more current concern or issue.
  2. Failure to disclose: If a candidate fails to disclose a criminal record during the application process, it could raise questions about their honesty and trustworthiness.
  1. Mitigating factors: Assess whether there are any mitigating factors, such as rehabilitation, counselling, or community service, that could indicate positive efforts to reform and change.

It's crucial that you comply with local laws and regulations regarding the use of criminal record information during the hiring process. Consider implementing a fair and consistent policy for evaluating criminal records and conducting individualized assessments for each candidate. 

You should also consult with legal counsel to make sure you stay compliant with relevant employment laws. Remember, a criminal record check should be just one part of a comprehensive and fair hiring process that considers a candidate's qualifications, experience, references, and other relevant factors.


How Can Borderless Help?

Managing a remote team can be a challenge. At Borderless, we are experts in international employment. We can make sure all employees who need to be are background checked, legally compliant and not raising any hiring red flags.  

We can help you understand the different work cultures around the world and be your safety net through your employees’ lifecycles, from the planning stage of onboarding, right through to retirement in 150+ countries. 

Book a demo today to find out how we can help.