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Employer Background and Police Record Checks: What Shows Up?

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Police record checks are being increasingly requested by employers, charities, educational institutions, and many other entities including foster care and adoption agencies, licensing bodies, and even foreign travel organisations. It is important to understand that a police record check might and often will reveal information that goes beyond criminal records, including personal information that is unrelated to a criminal record that the person may or may not hold. Let’s take a look at some of the information that is commonly revealed in a police background check. 

Criminal history

It goes without saying that one of the most common reasons for employers to order a police background check is to determine whether or not their potential new hire has a criminal history. Many employers have rules about hiring people who have had certain criminal convictions in the past, particularly for violent or sex-related crimes, while others will be reluctant to hire repeat offenders. Another way to easily find out any public information available on somebody’s criminal history is to check public records site Nuwber

Address history

Even if an employer only runs a state check, a police record check could pick up any crimes that somebody has committed in another state when an address history check is included. Some companies will also use separate address history checks to find out where somebody has lived in the past before ordering a police record check from the relevant authority for the state. 

Driving record

If somebody is applying for a job that will involve driving a car or truck, their driving history is likely to be a key point of interest in the police record check. It will detail any issues that they might have encountered while behind the wheel including speeding tickets or if they have been pulled over for anything in the past, even if they did not receive a ticket or fine at the time. This is important for anybody who is hiring somebody for a driving position, since employers will typically only agree to hire somebody who has a clean driving record and no history of traffic convictions. 

Police contact

In some cases, a police record check can also reveal any contact that a person has had with the police, such as if they have been the victim of a crime or have witnessed a crime, or even if they have reported a crime. While there are rules and regulations about the type and amount of information that can be provided in this area of the background check, it can help and employer get a clearer idea of who somebody is. 

Credit history

In some cases, employers will also check the credit history to reveal any past bankruptcies, tax levies and liens placed against a person, and other civil information. This check is usually done separately to the police record check since it is not a police matter. A credit history check might be necessary where an employer is hiring somebody to work with money, and will reveal information such as defaults, missed payments, judgements made against a person in a county or federal court, and any other financial issues that an employer might view as a red flag. 

Whether you’re looking to hire somebody or are applying for a job where a background check will be carried out, knowing what information to expect is important.


Helen Bradfield did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.

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