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Paradox: having a ‘criminal’ record despite never being convicted

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Though most people in Markham would worry if they were arrested by police, they might not think too much about consequences if they were released shortly thereafter and never charged with anything. The problem is, however, that just because an individual has not been charged with a crime does not mean that he or she does not have a criminal record. Unfortunately, there are a number of people listed on the 420,000-person RCMP’s Canadian Police Information Centre database who either have been charged with criminal activity but the charges have been dropped or those who have never been charged at all.

Just by being on that list is enough to cause serious difficulties. What is worse is that sometimes there is no way off of the list.

Fifteen years ago, when an Ontario father was driving with his three sons, he lightly tapped his 10-year-old son on the knee to get him to stop bothering his younger brothers. Unbeknownst to him, however, there was someone driving behind him who reported him to the police. Officers arrived at his workplace one week later and the father explained what had happened. The officers believed him and let him return to work.

Then, four years ago, when he tried to volunteer for the Children’s Aid Society in Sudbury, he was turned away because he has a record from that incident. Despite the fact that he was never arrested, never charged and certainly never convicted of a crime, his name still appears on the database. It is unknown if he has attempted to have his name removed.

Source: The Hamilton Spectator, “Police records system ‘ruins lives’,” Robert Cribb, May 24, 2014

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