March 31st, 2015 | Sterling

Is CPIC Up To Date? A Critical Backlog And Its Effect On Employers

Is CPIC Up To Date? | SterlingBackcheck Canada Blog

Criminal record screening isn’t always as easy as searching a database to determine whether or not a candidate has a criminal history. In fact, Canadian employers are one of the few that have the luxury of relying on information from a centralized national repository. Despite this luxury, even central repositories are not flawless. Lengthy delays in entering some convictions into the national database may be putting employers at risk of hiring criminals that may be unsuitable for some positions.


Unfortunately, the RCMP faces many challenges associated to keeping the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) up to date. Currently, CPIC is backlogged with up to two years of updates to criminal records. This is not the first time that there has been concern about a data backlog. Canada’s auditor general warned of delays in 2009 and 2011. At that time, it was taking approximately 14 months to update records in English and three years for records in Quebec. Latest estimates indicate that hundreds of thousands of criminal convictions have not been entered into CPIC.

The backlog of updates to criminal records is directly related to outdated processes that the RCMP is now modernizing. To address the primary needs of the criminal justice community, the RCMP now prioritizes updates needed for court sentencing, matches to evidence found at crime scenes, high risk and prolific offender files, and any civil searches such as those made for hiring decisions. All prioritization is triggered by fingerprint submissions. As organizations can attest, fingerprint processing is neither convenient nor efficient for employers who need to make rapid hiring decisions.

How Employers Can Minimize the Impact on Background Screening

The RCMP has taken measures to reduce the backlog and get CPIC fully caught up. They estimate that the backlog should be cleared by March 2017, but what should employers do in the meantime? Surely dropping standard CPIC conviction checks from the background checking process is not an option and neither is waiting two years for the problem to be solved. In most cases, CPIC will be considered “good enough” and will still add considerable value to the background screening process, but as with any background check, the best way to manage these risks is to augment the data sources.

A search of local police information should not be viewed as a temporary fix but rather as part of the permanent solution. Laws in Canada do not permit police services to provide all criminal conviction types to the National Repository. Generally speaking, there is very little legislation that compels police to send conviction information of any type. With the exception of youth convictions – which are rarely disclosed anyway – all other offences are entered at the discretion of the booking police department and in accordance with its timelines. Summary convictions, which are generally less serious but may be relevant to hiring decisions, are almost always found only in local police information and not in the National Repository.

In the case of Canadian criminal record checks, local police information may more often be kept up-to-date and it may provide more real-time results. This means that crimes that wouldn’t be uncovered through a CPIC search could be found by supplementing the CPIC check with a search of local police information. In summary, these two searches work together to close potential gaps in the criminal history screening process and in turn, provide employers with more comprehensive results.

SterlingBackcheck’s Enhanced Police Information Check (E-PIC) provides both a search of CPIC and local police information. More information on E-PIC can be found by visiting

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.