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Police Background Checks and the Private Sector

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The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA)



Project Leader(s)

Abby Deshman, Public Safety Program Director


An increasing number of Canadian organizations—employers, volunteer managers, educational institutions, licensing bodies and governments—are incorporating police record checks into their hiring and management practices. Police forces across the country are running millions of record checks per year, and are disclosing information that goes far beyond convictions and formal findings of guilt. Indeed, a wide range of non-conviction information—including records of suicide attempts, complaints where charges were never laid, withdrawn charges and acquittals—is regularly disclosed on Canadian police record checks.

Disclosing this information leads to unwarranted barriers to employment, education, volunteering, travel and even basic social services. The research project and the resulting report, along with the public education materials and the recommendations increased awareness of this issue and suggested concrete reforms to increasing respect for privacy, human rights and the presumption of innocence, as well as generally reintroducing perspective and balance to the societal use of police record checks. The stories of individuals who had been impacted by the disclosure of non-conviction information were also recorded and publicized.

This document is available in the following language(s):

English only

OPC Funded Project

This project received funding support through the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s Contributions Program. The opinions expressed in the summary and report(s) are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Summaries have been provided by the project authors. Please note that the projects appear in their language of origin.

Contact Information

Canadian Civil Liberties Association
215 Spadina Avenue, Suite 210
Toronto, ON
M5T 2C7

Tel: 416-363-0321
Fax: 416-861-1291

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