On 22nd August 2012 a resident of Colorado Springs was arrested by the El Paso Sheriff’s Office on three counts of alleged sexual assault as reported by (Colorado Springs and Pueblo Continuous News). At the time of his arrest he was working as a Widefield school bus driver and had been doing so for about seven years.

As required in most countries, thorough background checks of anyone working with children should have been undertaken. They were: according to News 5 three separate criminal background searches were undertaken by (1) the Colorado Bureau of Investigations, (2) the Colorado Springs Police and (3) the FBI.

According to News 5 all three law enforcement agencies failed to spot that the gentleman in the spotlight had been acquitted in a case of sexual assault on a child in 2001 and had prior misdemeanour convictions of harbouring a runaway child in 1998 and driving under a suspended license in 1996.

Also according to News 5, Widefield’s HR Director Kirk Vsetecka stated that any one of these misdemeanours would have prohibited any person from getting a job as a Widefield school bus driver.

So why may this be of interest to you? If you have not read our introductory section entitled “Proving Representations Disclosures & Omissions” or the section entitled “Investigating Current & Prospective Employees” under Core Services perhaps you should. Why?

Next time you have a background check undertaken for some paltry fee or use a mass checking system for a subscription of a couple of thousand dollars or pounds a month and rely on the results it produces we wish you luck because there’s more than a 50% probability of missing something important that, by way of examples, had you known about beforehand would have made you turn down an application for a job or refuse to grant credit to someone. Does saving money by carrying out cheap but useless checks really make economic sense in the long run if the impact of one major scandal could wreck your business’s reputation and its future profitability or value?

If you think checking someone’s background and/or criminal record anywhere is easy and should be cheap, especially in the USA, and you believe the hype that many investigatory or “background check” organisations tell you that it is straightforward then one day you will regret relying on such services if you do.

While these three law enforcement agencies made mistakes they are not alone in so doing and it does not surprise us as explained in our Core Services section because of the widely varying ways in which databases are maintained and updated by law enforcement agencies all over the world. Needless to say, those in the private sector who update their databases based on those used by the authorities don’t all do so at the same time and in the same manner covering the same data so the problems concerning quality of databases just compound themselves.

This article was first published on 25th August 2012.

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