April



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April 30, 2019
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We always add a personal touch....

It’s been two weeks now since we refreshed the Verifile brand identity and launched our new-look website. The response has been overwhelmingly positive – so I wanted to thank everyone who has been in touch with their feedback.

I said ahead of the launch that I knew that an overhaul of the Verifile image was long overdue. However, this was also about so much more than merely modernising the website or rethinking our corporate livery.
Within our new brand identity, there’s a new strapline – “Accurate data. Meaningful relationships”. It’s more than just a casual soundbite. Having it front and centre in this way proves that we stand by the quality and accuracy of our data. It also reassures clients that we stand for something more than just data outputs; that we always add a personal touch.

Less overt – but just as important – within our brand refresh are our five Verifile values: leadership; partner; human; relentless; and flexible.  Combine all these and you have the complete picture of what Verifile stands for – and how we’re passionate about helping creating transparency within your workforce.

I hope that comes across strongly in our new brand identity and website. And I look forward to proving that to you as we work together in the coming months and years.

Yours sincerely

Eyal Ben Cohen
CEO


 

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| Criminal Record Checks | Health & Social Care
April 29, 2019
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Criminal records check for NHS contractors

Many of our clients are supporting the NHS with a variety of ways, and the question keeps popping up whether or not they should be getting their staff checked for standard or enhanced DBS checks.

We have recently received several enquiries regarding the level of check that is appropriate for contractors visiting NHS Trust sites, including Medical Sales Representatives and Service Engineers.

Eligibility with regard to roles held by contractors visiting NHS Trust sites, including Medical Sales Representatives and Service Engineers, has not changed, and the guidance provided by both NHS Employers and DBS advises that in the majority of cases, basic level checks are appropriate. However, standard level checks may be requested where the contractor is providing a health service and has access to patients while carrying out their role.  

Verifile pays particularly close attention to applications for such roles to ensure that checks are not submitted at a level that is above and beyond eligibility laid out in legislation. 

We would also take this opportunity to remind our clients that any contractual statement they may have with their NHS client regarding the level of check required for contractors as part of any broader accreditation arrangements does not override eligibility as laid out in legislation.  In such a scenario it is important that clients challenge requests made by NHS Trusts for levels which seem unjustified.
 
Our industry page for the Health and Social Care industry covers additional guidance.
 
 
 

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| Criminal Record Checks
April 26, 2019
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What Employers Need to Know About Instant Clears “garbage in, garbage out”

From across the pond, our colleague, and life-long expert on Background Screening, Lester Rosen, shares his thoughts on a new twist the US background screening industry is currently experimenting with – “instant clears”. This is an eye-opening article important to anyone involved in obtaining criminal records from the USA.
 

Attorney at Law, Educator, Presenter, Author and Expert Witness on Background Screening and Legal Compliance and CEO at Employment Screening Resources.
By Lester Rosen 

One of the interesting aspects of the background screening industry is that no matter how long you have been involved, new twists and turns pop on a regular basis.  The screening industry continues to find new and interesting ways to innovate with the ever-present goal of empowering employers to be able to more quickly make informed hiring decisions.

One of the new and innovative twists is one designed to more quickly deliver a criminal result when the search is clear – often referred to as an “instant clear.”  The idea is great in theory: a screening firm searches a database, online court system, or other source of instant information, and if a name is absent, the employer should be able to conclude that there is no criminal record to find.  The search may include, for example, accessing a court’s online system remotely, or some form of screen scraping from a county court computer.  Of course, if an applicant fails an instant clear, the screening firm needs to obtain the underlying information about the potential criminal record to ensure that it is reportable, belongs to the applicant, and that the record is complete and up to date to date as required by law.  However, as the old saying goes, “the devil is in the details.”  The potential problem with an instant clear is the quality of the underlying data.  If the data being used is not complete and up to date, there is the possibility that employers could base critical decisions on inferior information.  The term “garbage in, garbage out” can apply and using defective information comes with serious risk to the company.   

If we look at California as a case study, the state has 58 counties.  Since California does not have a central statewide criminal repository of all criminal records available to private employers, the information must come primarily from each individual county.  There is some limited statewide information such as registered sex offenders, but the bulk of criminal information is maintained by the courts in each of the 58 counties. So, what is the issue?  In California, county court is its own fiefdom that keeps, maintains, and controls access to criminal records in accordance with its own unique policies, capabilities, and practices. There is simply no statewide process, computer system, or standardized procedure every county follows.  They use the Frank Sinatra approach – they do it their way.

The result is a patchwork of systems that vary by county.  Although the data from some online county systems is reliable and up to date, many counties are not and some even have disclaimers on their online system that warn users that the information obtained online is not the same as the information they would get from an in-person search at the courthouse.  Some online court systems warn not only that the information is not the same, but also that it is not suitable or lawful to be used for certain applications, including a background check for employment purposes.  In other words, for an instant county search to be considered reliable, it should be the functional equivalent of a search conducted physically at the courthouse.  If the information is incomplete or stale, then the argument can be made that a so-called “instant clear” can lead to both false negatives and false positives.  A “false negative” is where a person is “cleared” who, in fact, has a criminal record.  A “false positive” is where a person is thought to have a criminal record, but upon further examination, it is either not a match to the subject being checked or the record is no longer reportable, such as a record that has been expunged. 

A large number of online county sources in our case study state of California arguably do not meet minimum standards to be acceptable for use in a hiring decision.  Without naming the exact counties or going into too much detail, here are some of the issues currently being reported in California counties by public record retrieval experts that could potentially impact the notion of using databases or instant electronic connections to a county court system to provide an “instant clear.”  
  1. The criminal online results are not the same as the public access terminal results.  There can be missing cases, plus a delay of several days before new cases are entered (it varies based on clerk workload).
  2. Misdemeanors are not shown online.
  3. Cases available online prior to a certain date are not included, which impacts search accuracy and program consistency.
  4. The online system is new and has issues with missing information.
  5. Data is only updated every 3 months.
  6. Criminal cases are not available online. 
  7. The date range online is limited and any cases prior to 10/19/2015 require a court visit to view.
  8. There is no indication as to how far back the information goes or how often it is updated – disclaimer on site says the information is subject to errors or omissions.   
  9. Older felonies (older than 10 years or so) are not always on the site but are available on the court terminals in person.
  10. Uncertainty over how far online system goes back or how often it is updated.
  11. Information for cases filed prior to 10/24/2014 is not accessible through the online portal.
  12. Only limited information is provided, or some cases could not be converted to current format and are therefore missing.
  13. No hyphenated or two-part last names can be searched on the portal, and identifiers are not included in results.
  14. No indication as to whether or not felony and misdemeanor cases are included.
While instant clears sound good in theory, with the steady increase in class action and single party lawsuits against employers and background screening firms, in addition to the risk a failed criminal check represents, their use should be a red flag for employers. 

The bottom-line is that unless each county has been thoroughly vetted and found to meet minimum quality, scope, and timeframe standards, it ultimately can put employers at risk.   An employer who doesn’t ask the right questions about the source of their criminal searches may be relying on information that is incomplete, outdated, or didn’t even search the relevant records.  A big danger for employers is getting a false sense of security, where “red flags” may actually exist.  The good news for employers is that as time goes by, county court systems and technology will likely continue to improve, and become more accurate as new data is entered. It is probably just a matter of time before an “instant clear” becomes a more powerful and dependable tool.  In the meantime, employers need to ask the right questions about the effectiveness and accuracy of an “instant clear” search in order to make a reasonable and informed decision on just how much reliance should be placed on it.  
 
 

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