Here’s the really strange part… the employers didn’t hack the system to gain illegal access. The police give sometimes false positive criminal record checks to B.C. citizens seeking jobs.
“The best thing about PRIME, from my perspective, is the sharing of knowledge across North America,” says Insp. Bruce Imrie, who is in charge of informatics operational support for the RCMP.
The worst thing about that quote is that innocent British Colombians who’ve ever interacted with Police, willingly or otherwise, are open to privacy violations around North America! Forget #TellVicEverything you might as well just #TellPRIMEEverything instead.
Wong says he “didn’t know that [table guest] and I had nothing to do with that person, never met him before,” so he was shocked his personal information could be recorded in connection to a suspected gangster. He has tried unsuccessfully for two years to get the file deleted, and says he is advocating for PRIME to be reformed.
“I’d like to see that this doesn’t happen to other people,” Wong said. “The police shouldn’t arbitrarily or needlessly collect information into this database that has detrimental implications to people who have committed no crime and have done nothing wrong.”
Then there’s the case of Jose-Luis Guinea, who arrived in Canada from Peru more than 14 years ago and began working hard to build a better life for his family.
In 2008, he graduated from Kwantlen University College as a recreation co-ordinator for senior citizens. He understood that when he applied for a job he would have to submit to a pre-employment police record check. It was part of the process to screen out convicted criminals and keep them away from vulnerable clients.
Guinea was stunned when his police record check was returned to his potential employer indicating that a police file “may or may not exist” in his name. Guinea’s name had been flagged in the PRIME-BC database as having had “adverse police contact.”
“They ended my career just like that. I couldn’t get another job,” he says.
Guinea would learn, after some investigation, that his negative contact referred to an incident a year earlier when he had been visiting a friend in Richmond. The friend’s disabled daughter suffered a seizure and fell onto the sidewalk face-first. An argument ensued with the paramedics who responded and someone called the police. They attended, and recorded Guinea’s personal information, along with details of the incident, into PRIME, he says.
“It was frustrating,” Guinea said. “I knew I had done nothing wrong.”