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SAPS dilemma reveals the importance of conducting a criminal record check

by , 30 July 2013
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has revealed that 1,448 police officers have criminal records during an audit on Sunday. According to media reports, the audit also revealed police management is in crisis and there are discipline problems in the force. While Mthethwa referred the report to National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega for a decision on what action to take, this startling revelations has put the spotlight firmly on the importance of conducting criminal record checks in the workplace. Here are two ways you can use to conduct a criminal record check legally.

One of the background checks you must do before you hire a new employee is a criminal record check, says FSP Business.

You can either do this criminal record check after a first interview or second interview if you follow a two-step interview process. The important thing is that you do the checks before you hire.

Here are two ways to do a criminal record check

#1: You can contact the Criminal Record Centre on (012) 393 3601 and request the information; or

#2: You can ask the applicant to apply for a police clearance certificate from their local police station.
What to do if your job applicant has prior criminal convictions

Don't assume all criminal convictions are relevant to a job, they aren't!

Don't exclude a candidate because of his criminal record if you aren't entirely sure it's relevant to the job he's applied for. Look at factors like:

  • The nature of the prior conviction: Is it relevant to the job he is applying for? In the case of the SAPS, it certainly is.
  • The number of prior convictions; and
  • When the offences took place (long ago or fairly recently)?

'You may be entitled not to appoint the applicant on the basis of the prior conviction without fear of being accused of unfair discrimination if it has a clear relevance to the job. But, first consider all the facts,' says the Practical Guide to Human Resources Management.

Also keep in mind that people often lie about their criminal records.

Where your applicant claimed to have no prior criminal record, but the tests reveal that this isn't true and he does have a record, this'll raise concerns about your applicant's integrity.

In some cases this false statement could amount to fraud. If your candidate lies in the application process, it's a good reason not to hire her.

Remember, you can only conduct a check for a criminal record if your candidate consents or it's relevant to the job requirements.

An easy way to do this is to include a clause in your application forms allowing you to do criminal record checks. You may also want to include this clause in your employment contract. This means you'll be able to do checks when you think it's necessary.

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