A Winnipeg woman wants others to know they may have to pay more than expected for a criminal record check after a bad experience at the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) headquarters last month.
Wendy Narozniak was getting ready to teach her class for the Manitoba Baton Twirling Sportive Association, which requires both child abuse registry and criminal record checks because her students are under 18.
Narozniak went downtown to the WPS headquarters at 245 Smith Street for the criminal record check, expecting to simply fill out some paperwork and pay the standard $56.70 fee.
She was not expecting what the clerk said next.
“She said ‘well, no you’re going to have to go another step,’ and I’m like ‘what do you mean?’” Narozniak said.
It turns out there was another woman in Canada – Ottawa, specifically – with the exact same birth date as Narozniak. The WPS clerk told Narozniak the other woman had a criminal record, and that they would have to make sure they weren’t the same person.
“I would need to go and have my fingerprints done,” Narozniak said. “I didn’t know I was having a mug shot at the time.”
Narozniak had to take another number, wait in line again, and then go to a different counter for the mug shot and fingerprints. She said she was embarrassed by the process.
“I was pretty distraught, I was shocked, I was crying my eyes out. She was like ‘this happens all the time, every day,’” said Narozniak.
Narozniak had to pay standard WPS fingerprinting service fees, as well as an additional $25 fee that goes to the RCMP.
“It came to $97 more than the $56.70 originally,” she said.
Her criminal record check will now take six to eight weeks to process, instead of the standard two to four weeks.
The WPS said in an email to CTV News that they work hard to maintain everyone’s privacy during the criminal record check process.
“Depending on the type of check required, fingerprints and photographs are used to confirm or eliminate a criminal record associated to an applicant’s information,” the email said. “People are called up to the counter one at a time in an effort to ensure conversations with our front counter personnel are as private and discreet as possible.”
The police email said because this was a vulnerable sector check, the extra steps are needed.
“Fingerprints are sometimes a necessity as they eliminate the possibility of an individual changing their name to circumvent disclosure of a criminal record. The rules associated to identity verification are governed by National RCMP policy and the information collected is only used for that purpose.”
Narozniak wants more people to know about the extra steps and fees involved when someone finds their “criminal double.” She said the clerk told her it happens all the time.
“She said ‘already since I’ve started I’ve had five,’ and she showed me this stack of papers,” said Narozniak.
She feels she shouldn’t have to pay more money for the check. “I just now became a victim of somebody else’s crime. Like I’m paying extra for their crime,” Narozniak said.
The WPS said the system is designed this way for a reason. “Given the critical nature of criminal record checks, which are intended to limit risk and provide a level of public safety for employment and volunteer positions, it is essential that the records provided are accurate.”
Narozniak said that once her identity is confirmed, police will return all her personal information and then erase it from their system. There is no refund after the fact.
“I’m going to go back down and make sure its erased from the system for sure,” she said.
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