July 5, 2012
BELLEVILLE, Ont. – A whopping backlog in the RCMP’s national crime records database shows no sign of getting better soon, the force has admitted.
A spokesman for the national police agency told QMI Agency there are 430,000 criminal records waiting to be filed into the Canadian Police Information Centre database, with more piling in every day.
The backlog accounts for about 10% of the RCMP’s complete criminal record file of 4.3 million records.
It’s become and increasingly thorny issue for judges, who use the database to hand down appropriate sentences.
Last week, Justice Stephen Hunter in Belleville, Ont., found an eight-year gap in one offender’s criminal history file during a manslaughter sentencing hearing.
Carole Gaudes, acting officer of criminal records management services for the RCMP at the Ottawa-based RCMP headquarters, said there are several problems the force is dealing with. Many records have accumulated from French-speaking jurisdictions as the RCMP struggles to find bilingual staff to manage them, for instance.
As well, courts across the country are not on the same computer systems, so the inconsistency is also causing headaches, Gaudes said. Worse, many convictions filed by the courts are still done on paper, creating logistical headaches for RCMP staff, who have to manually input about 365,000 new convictions every year.
“That is something that we’ve been dealing with for a while here,” Gaudes said.
With a dwindling staff of about 60 record analysts overseeing the overburdened system, Gaudes is hoping a singular automated system – much like law enforcement agencies use to register criminal charges to the system – will be created for courtrooms soon.
But that funding could be hard to get, considering fiscal constraints in the federal budget.
“We’re not in any kind of position to have any additional funding for hiring, so we have to look from within to modernize our business process,” Gaudes said.