Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Presumption of Guilt: The Human Cost

May 2014

This is a compilation of audio recordings documenting the stories of Canadians whose lives have been impacted by a non-conviction record. These are just 9 of the over 100 people who have contacted CCLA in the past two years.

Listen to their stories, as told in their own voices.

False Promises, Hidden Costs: The Case For Reframing Employment and Volunteer Police Record Check Practices In Canada

May 2014

This report turns the spotlight on the private and not-for-profit organizations that are requesting the information, as well as the third-party companies that are selling background check services. An increasing number of Canadian organizations are incorporating police record checks into their hiring and management practices. Our research showed that organizations were generally risk averse, lacked knowledge of their human rights and privacy obligations, and regularly contravened even basic safeguards on the use of record checks. The available evidence does not support the use of record checks as employment screening measures – indeed given the personal and societal costs of this growing trend, widespread police record checks undermine, rather than enhance, public safety. The report includes recommendations for government, police services, employers and volunteer organizations and third-party record check companies. Read the executive summary and recommendations or the full report.

Presumption of Guilt? The Disclosure of Non-Conviction Records in Police Background Checks.

October 2012

In 2012, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association released a report, in which we criticized police forces for releasing non-conviction information – incidents like suicide attempts, complaints where charges were never laid, withdrawn charges and acquittals – on police record checks. The widespread release of non-conviction records runs counter to the presumption of innocence; violates individuals’ privacy; and leads to discriminatory, stigmatizing exclusion from employment, education and community opportunities. We recommended that police forces regularly review and destroy non-conviction records in the overwhelming majority of cases, and that there be a strong presumption against the release of this information on any level of police check. Some policing organizations have actively worked with us to address the negative impacts of non-conviction records; others have not. Read the full report.