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Criminal record checks go biometric

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SA's newest credit information bureau, Inoxico, last week unveiled a biometric fingerprint scanning facility as the sector needs to comply with the police's digital system.

The move is expected to speed up industry queries into whether prospective employees have criminal records. CIO Marius van Niewenhuizen adds the biometric facility will also help clear job applicants who are incorrectly thought to have records, because of inaccuracies when data is captured.

Van Nieuwenhuizen says the services, offered through Ideco, are a requirement from the South African Police Service (SAPS). He explains that from July, companies that offer criminal checks to prospective employers have to do so through the use of biometrics.

SAPS developed the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) in 2002, says Van Nieuwenhuizen. Moving to a biometric system should eliminate inaccuracies and speed up the process of checking whether someone has a criminal record, he adds.

Van Nieuwenhuizen explains only using names and identity numbers means that errors can creep in, which could result in SAPS indicating that a candidate may have a record, when this isn't the case.

SAPS could also return a “possible positive” result, which then requires the case file be opened, a process that takes as long as three months, he says. With the new system, turnaround time will be faster, and records that need clarification will be sent to fingerprint experts, says Van Nieuwenhuizen.

The Inoxico biometric service is fully integrated with the National AFIS archive. Users of the service undergo a rigorous vetting procedure before being allowed access to AFIS information.

“We have built in substantial checks and balances to ensure that the system is not abused or used for dubious purposes,” explains development manager Riaan Bergh.

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