The Importance Of Criminal Records


A criminal record can be defined as a document that lists a person’s criminal history. It’s beneficial to everyone from potential employers and lending institutions to landlords and educational institutions. These records depict a person’s criminal past, offering a comprehensive overview of offenses committed, sentences served, and other pertinent information.

One may wonder what falls under criminal records. Generally speaking, criminal records cover any occurrence in which law enforcement was involved. This includes arrests, crimes committed, coinages, trials, court judgments, and sentences. The scope of these records could delve into juvenile detention incidents, even if sealed under non-disclosure.

The Utility of Criminal Records

Criminal records, in their essence, provide a solid foundation for risk assessment. Employers, for instance, generally hesitant to recruit individuals with unlawful histories, significantly depend on these records. They facilitate objective decision-making by proving factual information about potential employees or partners’ backgrounds.

Correspondingly, landlords and real estate companies also utilize criminal records before leasing out properties. Unstable tenants or those who have previously indulged in criminal activities pose a risk to both the infrastructure and other residents. Moreover, lending institutions often reference these records before approving loans, ensuring that they are not dealing with habitual offenders who may pose a significant risk.

The Significance of a Reference Check

Reference check constitutes a significant part of vetting potential employees, tenants, or any other involved individuals. A reference check delves into a person’s past beyond what the resume or application form discloses. It is an extension of a criminal record check, encompassing all aspects of a person’s history, including but not limited to criminal history.

A reference check tends to provide more detailed, personal information, including the individual’s work ethic, behaviour, attitude, and more. It gives the potential employer or entity a better insight into the individual’s character, habits, and history. This process aids in predicting future behaviour, allowing for a more informed decision-making process.

Limitations and Controversies Surrounding Criminal Records

While criminal records serve a crucial role, they are often challenged on grounds of ethical and moral considerations. Critics argue that individuals with a criminal past should be entitled to a second chance and that these records incite discrimination.

Moreover, these records may not always paint an accurate picture. Many individuals with criminal records have been falsely accused or convicted. The sentence severity might not correctly reflect the person’s actual character if they’ve rehabilitated and moved past their criminal phase.

Fair Chance Policies and Laws

Recognizing these potential flaws and striving for fair opportunities, various jurisdictions have enforced ban-the-box or fair chance policies that prohibit employers from asking about a prospective employee’s criminal history upfront. In such cases, they rely heavily on a reference check rather than the criminal records alone.

Interestingly, these policies don’t deny the use of criminal records. Instead, they shift the timing of the inquiry to later on in the hiring process. This approach allows a candidate to display their skills and qualifications first, rather than being disqualified at the onset on the basis of a criminal record.

In conclusion, criminal records are valuable assets in risk assessment across various sectors. However, it’s essential to complement these records with comprehensive reference checks, mitigating the risk of discrimination based on criminal histories alone.