"South Africa has seen a radical change in the way criminal checks have been conducted over the last three years," says Greg Brown, Director: Risk Management & Compliance Solutions at LexisNexis South Africa, a background screening and due diligence solutions business.
"This began in 2011 with the introduction of the Afiswitch Criminal Illicit Activity Check, which requires the physical capture of fingerprints on an electronic scanner for verification," he explains further.
"The criminal check business has since evolved to include additional status and criminal detail provided by SAPS 69 reports, helping recruitment agencies and HR managers to make sound decisions when hiring candidates," says Brown.
The Afiswitch Check replaced the Criminal Name Clearance Check - a simple online search using name, surname and ID number to provide a negative or positive criminal status. This change in systems created a logistical nightmare for recruitment agents and departments, as the candidate needed to be physically present for the capture of the criminal checks. The device and training were additional costs and many recruitment agencies stopped offering criminal checks as a service.
However, today professionals recognise the accuracy and intelligence behind the Afiswitch system, which is now firmly established as an essential tool in the vetting process.
Purchasing a scanner is not the only method available to business owners interested in protecting their business. Many background screeners have established networks of agencies providing once-off criminal checks at a reasonable charge. These networks even extend to outlying areas, which were previously inaccessible to smaller recruitment firms.
The change in criminal check systems has also brought with it business opportunities for entrepreneurs. A number of smaller businesses offer a mobile criminal check service where the biometric officer travels to the candidate or to your business to capture criminal checks for a fee.
There is still also the old faithful 91A form with some enhancements. An original 91A form can be submitted to a background screener and the fingerprints uploaded to the AFIS database for vetting with a result in less than 2 weeks - a major improvement over the 6-8 weeks of the past.
Brown says that LexisNexis' Risk Management department has a passion for advancing the rule of law and driving South Africa forward by providing information for competitive edge.
For more, go to www.lnrisk.co.za.