Canadian Border Officials May Be Missing Criminals

According to the CBC, Canadian border officials may be accidentally allowing criminals to enter Canada due to an incomplete screening process.


According to the CBC, Canadian border officials may be accidentally allowing criminals to enter Canada due to an incomplete screening process.

The CBC has reported that of the millions of people that cross the American-Canadian border every month, many of those do not undergo full criminal screening.

Front line officers do not have access to the Canadian Police Information Centre database (CPIC). The CPIC database contains information on outstanding arrest warrants, criminal history reports and other security information.  Border officials only utilize an internal database with information on individuals with immigration problems and an additional database for stolen or missing passports. American border officials on the other hand, utilize CPIC as their primary inspection tool.

Currently, Canadian border officials do also utilize the National Crime Information Centre database (NCIC) which provides information on offences committed in the United States. Information on crimes committed in Canada however, is only available through the CPIC database. 

Jean-Pierre Fortin said most Canadians would be “surprised” and “concerned” to hear this news. The head of the Customs and Immigration Union said that “CPIC is accessible, but not at the primary [level], which is actually the first contact you’re having with one of our officers.”

Only after an individual is deemed suspicious and they are sent on to a second inspection is CPIC utilized by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). 

According to Fortin, the reason for this is to not “slow down the traffic” at the international border crossing stations. Most travelers are supposed to be processed in under one minute and so there is not sufficient time for detailed inspections in the course of a few seconds.

Earlier this year, a Nigerian priest was granted entry into Canada after sexually assaulting a woman in 2004. At the time of his entry, there was an outstanding warrant issued for his arrest. Yet due to the lack of rigorous screening, he was able to enter the country.

The CBSA would not release numbers as to how many criminals are mistakenly allowed to enter Canada. But a spokesperson did state that admissibility is “based on the information made available at the time of entry.”

According to former border guard and now current academic Arne Kislenko, what is needed is better training in addition to the use of the CPIC database. Kislenko argues that some front-line officers don’t have experience or training. He said that in recent years, the CBSA has even employed summer students to work front line at border crossings.

Kislenko also said that he wasn’t altogether surprised about the priest being allowed back in to Canada. He stated “Everything is reliant upon that front-line officer’s assessment, which is made in a very short period of time.”

If you have a criminal history or conviction and are looking to enter Canada however, you should not rely on a relaxed inspection at the border. You can apply for a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation if these apply to you. For more information, fill out our free online assessment form here

FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For more tips and updates on Canadian immigration follow FWCanada on FacebookTwitter, and Linkedin.