All You Wanted to Know About Criminal Background Checks

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Continuing the series, we will look at criminal background checks in this post.

Criminal background checks aim to verify if the employee has been involved in any criminal activities. These checks can be run across two primary sources – police records, court records.

Police Records: The police records again can be available at different levels – national (National Crime Records Bureau), state, city/town/district, local police station. While the records are computerized at NCRB and most of the state levels, they may not be available in electronic form at most of the district and local police station levels. The Home Ministry has embarked on Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) project to link all the police stations and offices across the country and the full integrated system is expected to be available in 2012. It is not known to what extent the information will be made available for public access. So in the interim, the criminal records have to be accessed at the state, district or police station level by physically visiting the specific office and requesting the criminal background verification.

Court Records: The Indian judicial system has courts at three levels – national (Supreme Court), regional/state (High Courts), district/town (district courts). Currently (end of year 2010), the court records of Supreme Court and most of the High Courts are available online. Unfortunately, most (if not all) of the districts court records are still not available online. This means that only a limited set of court records can be checked online. The rest would require a physical verification at the associated courts.

Challenges: Theoretically, to get a complete criminal background check done, all the state, district and local police station records need to be reviewed. This would ensure that even if the employee to be verified has moved locations, the records can be accessed. However, this is extremely costly and cumbersome exercise. Till the time, CCTNS gets released with some access for public and/or third party verification agencies, the best bet is to run criminal verifications on the specific locations where the employee has lived.

Our recommendation: Criminal verification should be done at least at the police station levels for the temporary and permanent addresses of the employee. Additional locations for previous addresses should be considered based on the nature of the business, job profile and responsibilities.

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