+1.877.796.2559 | Investors|

How the Sausage is Made: Global Screening & “Criminal” Databases

By ClearStar | Oct 19, 2015 | Global Screening

Introduction

What actually goes into different screening services globally, such as verifications, criminal, records, etc., can vary a lot from country to country and vendor to vendor. Historically, consumers of these services often took them at face value with little diligence done on them. However, as the importance of conducting robust screening has increased, there has been an increased desire to actually understand how the sausage is made.

This 4-week blog series is focused on explaining what can make up different background screening searches globally and why they vary. The ultimate goal is to make you an educated consumer of global background screening, so that you can make informed decisions in selecting, using and selling these services.

The goal is NOT to explore compliance issues, or tell you which services you should or should not use.

Week 3

Last week we covered national and local criminal searches. This week we continue with a look at “criminal” databases.

Database
In some countries, vendors may offer a 3rd party database check instead of searching the criminal records source directly. In the US this is commonly done through a national criminal records file. Outside the US however, it is relatively uncommon for it to be legal to aggregate criminal records into a 3rd party database. There are some countries though where this has been done legally, and can be the only or best option for the search. As with anything involving global screening, what is most important is that you understand exactly what you are purchasing, so that you can determine whether it is appropriate/adds value to your process.

Advantages
A database search can be faster than a regular criminal records check. It may also be the only option in some countries.

Disadvantages
Databases may not be completely comprehensive, or up to date.

Adverse Media
This is a search of a database and online sources for adverse mentions of the data subject. It is not a true criminal records check, as most media mentions do not have full details available as one would find in a court record. However, in certain countries where criminal record checks are not permissible, vendors may offer these in lieu of a criminal record check. What is important is that this is transparent to the customer. An adverse media search should not be portrayed as a criminal record database search.

Advantages
A database search can be faster than a regular criminal records check. It may also be the only option in some countries.

Disadvantages
Records will often not have the necessary details to make them reportable. There is also not often a way to ensure that the record is current. This could result in reporting something that is out of date or incorrect.

Sanctions
A sanctions search is sometimes also sold as a criminal records checks, as sanctions lists can contain people who have been criminally charged. It is often used in lieu of a regular criminal records check in countries where a criminal record check is not permissible, or the vendor does not have the capability to conduct a check. It is important to note that some countries view a sanctions search to be similar to a criminal record check and thus require processing under the same rules as criminal record checks are processed (and limited). A Sanctions search is a perfectly legitimate background search. Some hiring requirements or business needs require a Sanctions check on specific positions. Sanctions checks are critical in financial services industry screening for key positions. However it is not a criminal record search. More on the specifics of Sanctions and Watchlists is covered below.

Advantages
A sanctions search can be faster than a regular criminal records check. It may also be the only option in some countries.

Disadvantages
Records will often not have the necessary details to make them reportable. There is also not often a way to ensure that the record is current. This could result in reporting something that is out of date or incorrect. These databases are usually focused on terrorism and human trafficking type offenses. They will not contain more ‘regular’ offenses, such as theft, fraud or non-terrorist violence.

Next week we will conclude the series with a look at verifications, non-criminal records, and sanctions and watch list search types.


Andy Hellman – VP, Special Projects

Andy runs ClearStar’s special projects group, focused on delivering industry-leading, innovative solutions for ClearStar’s customers. Andy brings over two decades of experience to this role in organizations ranging from venture-backed startups to Fortune 100s, including over a decade in background screening.  Prior roles include running the business analytics team for ChoicePoint and the Global Screening business for LexisNexis. His international experience includes study abroad in Japan, working for an Italian technology company in Milan and working for LexisNexis in London while managing teams in London, Chicago and Singapore. He has a BA in International Economics and Leadership Studies, and an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship. He also holds CIPP/E and CIPM certifications.