Vulnerable Position Screening: HR Due Diligence or Police-corporate Data Mining?

By Mike Arntfield.

Published by The Organization Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The post-industrial polarization of the Canadian workforce towards one of either professional or service-based positions has engendered a culture of work where assets and clients are increasingly fragile in their modularity and temporality. Employers have responded to such transience by subscribing to the idea that their personnel vacancies amount to “vulnerable positions” by definition, adjusting their hiring practices to reflect idealized perceptions of this organizational change. By simultaneously capitalizing on the proliferation of electronic, inter-agency file sharing between police departments and the nebulous jargon of the Criminal Records Act, organizations are now increasingly able to screen would-be employees under the auspice of so-called “vulnerable position screening” programs that ostensibly supplement traditional criminal record checks. This paper critically examines how vulnerable position screening programs are actually designed by corporations as a means of determining the liability, and therefore the profitability, of their job applicants through the scrutinizing of digital and often non-contextual police file data. While requiring concessions in terms of both privacy and autonomy by those entering the knowledge-based workforce, the police are themselves now seen by organizations as a human resource partner and electronic resource for character reference, with events that are often entirely unrelated to employment competencies being mined for the purposes of identifying risk to an organization and its assets at both poles of the occupational and economic spectrum.

Keywords: Criminal Records, Background Checks, Uniform Crime Report, Due-diligence, Freedom of Information, Corporate Surveillance, Dataveillance

International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Volume 10, Issue 9, pp.69-80. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 609.396KB).

Dr. Mike Arntfield

PhD Candidate & Lecturer, Faculty of Information & Media Studies, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Michael Arntfield is a lecturer in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario. He also remains a serving police officer and aspiring police reformer with over ten years law enforcement experience, including tours in homicide, vice, robbery, and criminal intelligence. His research and teaching encompass the confluence of crime and technology, police records management systems and the public fear of crime, and the use of film and television narratives as branding strategies and recruiting devices for specific police departments.

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