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By Kirsten Halcrow, Managing Director of EMPS (PTY) LTD

An ever increasing rate of criminal activity in the workplace makes it almost impossible not to be weary of each and every person that you employ. This is especially true for high risk businesses such as retail, banking, mining, security and transporting industries.

An exciting advance in technology and the world of biometrics now puts employers in a potentially safer position than previously. The days of relying on an unreliable ID number for a criminal record check is over. With the amount of identity theft occurring on a daily basis, it is difficult to have any faith on any verification based on an ID number. Those people who have fallen victim to identity theft know the effects it can have on one’s credit records, let alone the fact that it could affect your criminal record too. It has become quite common practice for criminals to supply the incorrect ID number and biographical data when they are arrested. Fortunately it is impossible however for them to fake their fingerprints.

As part of the process of taking this technology to market, EMPS, South Africa’s oldest pre-employment screening company, an agent of the AFISwitch system, has run some research on the criminal ID check versus the criminal fingerprint check process. The results are astounding thus far, with fingerprint checks identifying over 50% more criminal records than ID checks. This is a frightening statistic for a business community that relies almost solely on ID checks at present.

AFISwitch (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) is the new technology that now allows criminal background checking using fingerprints and this technology is not restricted to SAPS for criminal purposes alone. The South African business community now has access to this technology for the purpose of doing due diligence on current or potential staff.

In the past, with applicant consent, SAPS provided details of criminal records for companies doing pre-employment checks. The initial check generally began with the ID and if a possible record was identified, then one was required to supply paper-based fingerprints, taken with ink on paper at the nearest police station. This was then sent to the Criminal Record Centre for manual checking. The whole process could take a few weeks to a few months. Due to the fact that this was not for criminal investigation purposes, these checks were not prioritised by the police.

In September 2002, the SAPS Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) was commissioned and a semi-automated system was introduced. In October 2006, a 15-year contract was awarded by SAPS to one of South Africa’s leading biometric companies for an automated service.

The new process still requires consent, is still based on 10 fingerprints; and results must be made available to the individual in question. The process involves the electronic capture of each fingerprint using a fingerprint scanner, interfaced with AFISwitch software. The fingerprint data is then uploaded via secure internet connection to the AFISwitch server. From here the file is transmitted directly to the SAPS AFIS, which contains some 6 million digital fingerprint records. Within 24-48 hours the system returns a result.

The AFISwitch system makes it possible for companies to capture fingerprints of job applicants and know within 24-48 hours whether they have a clear criminal record.  

For more information on the AfISwitch system / Pre-Employment Screening, call Kirsten Halcrow, Managing Director of EMPS (PTY) LTD on (011) 678-0807/ . www.emps.co.za

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Gary Watkins

Gary Watkins

Managing Director


C: +27 (0)82 416 7712

T: +27 (0)10 035 4185 (Office)

F: +27 (0)86 689 7862

Website: www.workinfo.com
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