More than eight out of every ten BC adults in police database

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The B.C. Civil Liberties Association has discovered that as many as 85% of British Columbia‟s adult population have “master name records” in the PRIME-BC police database. This database is used by police to prepare criminal record checks, including the controversial “negative police contact” section of those checks that can restrict access to jobs or volunteer opportunities. The BCCLA has written the Solicitor General to ask her to investigate.

“With more than eight out of every ten B.C. adults in this database, we‟re wondering if people know what the police are writing about them,” said Robert Holmes, Q.C., President of the BCCLA. “These notes by police officers can prevent people from getting jobs, schooling and training, and it is difficult if not impossible to remove or alter incorrect information.”

The most recent annual report for PRIMECorp, the crown corporation that administers the database, indicates that the database has 4,452,165 master name records, and B.C.‟s entire population as of October 1, 2010 older than 15 years of age, was estimated by BC Stats to be 3,844,531. Even if as many as a quarter of master name records are duplicates due to aliases, misspellings or out-of-province residence, 86% of the adult population of B.C. would still be recorded in the database.

While PRIME-BC was introduced in the Legislature as a way to better combat serial killers, sexual offenders, and career criminals, it would seem that minor traffic violations are enough to land B.C. residents in the police database, indefinitely. There is little in the way of protocol guiding how entries are made, how long information is kept, and the BCCLA frequently receives complaints about incorrect information being impossible to alter.

“What is disturbing is that some information is being recorded as „negative contact‟,” said Holmes. “Employers assume that if you have „negative contact‟, you have done something wrong, but it‟s just as likely that you insisted on your basic rights or that the information is incorrect. This is not some kind of philosophical objection, this misinformation is wrongfully keeping people from economic opportunities.”

Click here to read the BCCLA‟s letter to Solicitor General of British Columbia

David Eby, Executive Director, (778) 865-7997
Robert Holmes, President, (604) 838-6856