For RCMP information specific to Criminal Record and Vulnerable Sector checks, please visit
- What is a police background check?
- What kind of police check do I need?
- Do I need a police check to get a job?
- I am under 18 years of age. Can I get a police check?
- I am attending post-secondary school and living in Stratford as a student. Can I get a screening check done here?
- I'm beginning my job search. Should I obtain a police check in advance?
- How long is a police check valid? Is there an expiry date?
- What if I choose the wrong type of police check?
- What if I have a criminal record? Will this automatically bar me from getting a job?
- Why must I be fingerprinted again?
- What are 'police contacts' on a Police Vulnerable Sector Check?
- What is the Exceptional Disclosure Assessment?
- I have police contact information that I feel might hinder my chances of getting a job. Is there a process I can use to get things removed from my police check?
- What if I have had past contacts with the police involving mental health incidents?
- Is there a difference between a screening check done by my local police service, and a check offered by a third-party company?
- Do you release information on my driving history including speeding tickets and other infractions?
- Why does it take so long to get my check done?
- Can I get my police check done any faster?
- What if I don't disclose all the pages of my police check, or alter the information prior to showing it to an employer?
- I don't live in Stratford, or I reside outside of Canada. How can I get a screening check?
What is a police background check?
A police background check contains information the police have on file pertaining to an individual. This includes, but is not limited to, a record of convictions for criminal offences across Canada, outstanding charges before the courts, current judicial orders that are in effect (such as peace bonds, prohibitions or probation orders). Some people have absolutely no such information, while others may have some or all of these categories.
In releasing information, the police take no position on the suitability of the applicant, and will not offer any comment or opinion. It is entirely at the discretion of the employer as to whether or not the applicant may be considered for the position.
What kind of police check do I need?
The agency or employer should inform you which type of check you require, based on the position for which you are applying. Please note that Vulnerable Sector (VS) checks can only be conducted in very specific circumstances where the nature of the position qualifies for this level of check. If you believe you need a VS check, you will be required to provide the police with the following information:
- A description of the position
- The name of the organization to which you are applying
- Details regarding the children or vulnerable persons with whom you will have contact
The police service will use this information to determine if the position meets the legal requirements to conduct a Vulnerable Sector check. If the position does not meet the requirements of the Criminal Records Act for a VS check, it will not be processed. It is illegal for a police service to conduct a VS check if it does not qualify.
The main requirement for a VS check is where the applicant will be working in a position of trust or authority towards vulnerable persons. This is created when an individual's relationship with someone else has any of the following characteristics:
- Decision-making power
- Unsupervised access
- Closeness inherent in the relationship
- Personal nature of the activity itself
A 'vulnerable person’ is generally defined as children (under 18 years), the elderly, or any person who, by nature of a physical, emotional or psychological condition, is dependent on other persons for care and assistance with day-to-day living.
Someone working in an environment where they may have passing or incidental contact with vulnerable persons - such as a receptionist, maintenance worker, kitchen worker or in an administrative role - would not usually qualify for a VS check.
Public Safety Canada offers valuable information to assist agencies and employers on hiring employees and volunteers, including guidance on which level of police check is most appropriate based on the position, and how to determine screening requirements. Their 2012 Screening Handbook is an excellent resource and reference document, can can be found at:
Do I need a police check to get a job?
Not necessarily. Although some employers do not require one, more and more are asking for police checks as part of the application process. We advise employers to use the police check as one of the last steps in the process, after they've reviewed your application, conducted interviews and checked references.
You are being asked to provide one by the agency/employer to which you are applying. Our role is limited to providing a report with any potentially relevant information held in police databanks.
I am under 18 years of age. Can I get a police check?
There may be very limited information available, if anything. Persons under 18 years must attend the Records Branch of the Police Service in person, as it is unlikely they will be able to authenticate ID using the on-line process.
Be advised that in accordance with RCMP policy, persons under 18 years of age may not apply for a Vulnerable Sector (VS) screening check. Due to the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, an individual sentenced for an offence as a Young Person does not have to apply for a record suspension (Pardon), since all records are destroyed or archived once all applicable time periods have elapsed.
As well, persons under the age of 25 years are highly unlikely to have any information for which a VS screening check is required. Our recommendation is that the employer considers a Police Information Check (PIC) which is just as comprehensive, and less expensive. However, we will process VS checks for applicants 18-25 years of age if requested.
I am attending post-secondary school and living in Stratford as a student. Can I get a screening check done here?
If you have resided in another jurisdiction and still retain your permanent address there, you are advised to obtain a screening check from that police service. We will accept your screening application if you are able to provide documents to prove you are registered as a student in a Stratford educational institution. This would include a current student card, as well as documents showing your local address (rental/lease agreement, etc.).
I'm beginning my job search. Should I obtain a police check in advance?
We do not recommend it. First, you might obtain the wrong type of check and then have to apply for a new one at additional cost. As well, most employers will want a recent police check; if you do one in advance, it might not be accepted depending on when it was originally completed.
How long is a police check valid? Is there an expiry date?
Police records checks are only valid on the day they are issued, since information can change from day to day. They are a 'snapshot in time' only. The police do not determine an expiry date; this is up to the agency/employer. Some might accept a police check that is 3-6 months old, while others may want a new one.
Since a person can be clear of charges or criminal activity today but could be arrested and charged tomorrow, we offer no guarantees on the validity of a police check beyond the actual date on which the search was conducted. As well, not all criminal convictions are reported to the RCMP, and more recent dispositions may not be updated on their system at the time a check is conducted.
In our experience, most employers will ask for a new screening check if the current one is beyond 6 months, and almost certainly if it's older than one year. However, this is entirely at the discretion of the agency/employer.
Note that Vulnerable Sector screening checks are only valid for the specific employer/position for which it was conducted, and are not likely to be accepted by another VS sector employer.
What if I choose the wrong type of police check?
We stress that you make your choice carefully as we do not provide refunds or exchanges. If you are in doubt, the agency/employer should be able to tell you which one they require for the position.
What if I have a criminal record? Will this automatically bar me from getting a job?
The employer must find information from a police check relevant to the job they are offering. The Ontario Human Rights Code states that a person cannot be discriminated against based on, among other things, a 'record of offences'. Obviously some jobs - such as Police or Corrections Officer - will require the person to be free of convictions and have nothing in their history that might call their integrity into question. A person seeking a job at a financial institution will not likely be successful if they have convictions for theft, fraud or other crimes of dishonesty. However, a criminal record may not necessarily bar a person from obtaining employment or a volunteer position - the employer must show how that record is relevant to the position being offered - a bona fide reason for refusal.
Why must I be fingerprinted again?
If your Vulnerable Sector check resulted in a possible match to a pardoned offender record for sexual offences, your fingerprints must be taken for comparison and elimination purposes. As with all fingerprints collected for civil (non-criminal) purposes, they are only retained in the RCMP system for 120 days. If you have been fingerprinted before for purposes such as military, security clearance, etc., those prints cannot be re-purposed for a Vulnerable Sector check. It is highly unlikely the prints were queried against the pardoned offenders database at the time, as it requires (a) a justifiable purpose for the VS query, and (b) written consent by the applicant to have their prints queried against this specific databank. Therefore, in most cases you will have to submit new prints each time you require a Vulnerable Sector check. Of note, less than 8% of all VS applicants are a possible match and require this fingerprint elimination.
What are 'police contacts' on a record check?
Police contacts are incidents where a person has been investigated for a crime but charges were never laid or where charges were laid but did not result in a conviction. Although not a criminal record, there can be situations where a person has had contact with the police that might cause an employer to ask additional questions or seek further references. This type of information will only be released on a Police Vulnerable Sector Check if it meets the Exceptional Disclosure Assessment.
The disclosure of these types of contacts does not imply the subject is guilty of any crime or even has a criminal record. This information may or may not be relevant to an employer for the position being offered. The determination on relevance is up to the employer, not the police service. Our role is limited to completing the record check request. We offer no opinion or comment on a person's suitability, and we do not undertake any discussions with an employer regarding specific individuals. All information in this process is released directly to the applicant; we do not disclose any information to employers or other persons.
The Stratford Police Service completes record checks in accordance with the LEARN Guideline for Police Record Checks. You may view a copy of the Guideline here.
What is the Exceptional Disclosure Assessment?
In exceptional circumstances, police contact or non-conviction records may be considered for release on a Police Vulnerable Sector Check. There may be specific, exceptional cases where the existence of these types of records gives rise to a concrete and compelling concern for the safety of vulnerable persons. The type of offences considered for release are listed in Appendix O: List of Offences in the LEARN Guideline and the victim must meet the definition of a vulnerable person.
The disclosure is based on the Police Services Act, Disclosure of Personal Information Regulation 265/98 rather than the applicant’s consent. All information in this process is released directly to the applicant; we do not disclose any information to employers or other persons.
I have police contact information that I feel might hinder my chances of getting a job. Is there a process I can use to get things removed from my police check?
You do have an option of appealing the release of certain information through our Reconsideration process. This relates only to non-conviction police contact information released under the Exceptional Disclosure Assessment. Criminal convictions are always released and cannot be appealed.
You must submit your request in writing, and provide the reasons why you feel the information should not be included. More detailed information on the Reconsideration process can be found on our website:
What if I have had past contacts with the police involving mental health incidents?
This information is no longer authorized for release within any level of police screening check.
Is there a difference between a screening check done by my local police service, and a check offered by a third-party company?
Please view the following page:
Do you release information on my driving history including speeding tickets and other infractions?
We do not disclose any non-criminal driving offences. If the job you are applying for requires proof of a clear driving record, you can obtain your Driver's Abstract from the Ministry of Transportation. However, we will disclose any driving offences under the Criminal Code, such as Impaired Driving, Dangerous Driving, Criminal Negligence, etc., as well as the disposition.
Why does it take so long to get my check done?
On average, we process close to 30,000 police screening check requests each year for various employers as well as school boards and minor sporting leagues. Each one must be queried, the results analyzed, and in the case of potential police contacts, reports must be reviewed individually. If you've resided at an address outside Stratford in recent years, we must also contact that police service to conduct a query of their local records. All of this takes time and resources. While we can usually complete your police check well within the stated timeframes, there may be occasions where information is delayed or requires further confirmation.
Can I get my police check done any faster?
We do not have a system in place to process 'rush' jobs. No one applicant is more or less important than the next person. It would not be fair to do it for one person and not for someone else. We appreciate that everyone would like their check completed as quickly as possible, and we strive to minimize the turnaround time as best we can.
What if I don't disclose all the pages of my police check, or alter the information prior to showing it to an employer?
The Stratford Police Service applies a security seal to certify documents as original, and include the number of pages to ensure all available information is properly released. If a person deliberately alters the results of their police check by changing the content, it is an offence under the Criminal Code. If we become aware this has occurred it will be investigated and charges could be laid.
If an agency/employer has any questions about the validity of the document, they can contact us. Although we will not discuss the content of a person's police check due to privacy reasons, we will confirm the number of pages originally released, and advise whether or not a document may have been altered.
I don't live in Stratford, or I reside outside of Canada. How can I get a screening check?
The Stratford Police Service provides screening checks only for residents of the city. Note that Vulnerable Sector Checks can only be done for Canadian residents residing and employed in Canada. As per RCMP directives, police services cannot conduct Vulnerable Sector screening for citizens living and and working outside Canada, even if the employer is a Canadian firm.
If you reside outside Canada, you can obtain a certified criminal records check by submitting fingerprints directly to the RMCP. Note that this only contains information relevant to criminal convictions, if any. It does not include police contact information, nor a search of the pardoned database. More information is available on the RCMP website at: