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Name changes to require fingerprinting by police

Province of Manitoba news release:

May 5, 2011

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Fingerprints Would Link Changes of Name to Criminal Records: Mackintosh

The province would provide police with greater certainty in the protection of all Manitobans by requiring applicants for changes of name to undergo fingerprinting, Family Services and Consumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh announced today.

“You can run but you can’t hide is the intent of this rule,” Mackintosh said. “It will reduce the risk of criminals, including sex offenders, organized crime associates and fraudsters, changing their names, disappearing into new locations unknown to police and justice officials with what appears to be a clear criminal record. It will also better guard against innocent people being linked to a person with a criminal record.”

The new rules would require name-change applicants to submit to fingerprinting at designated law enforcement agencies throughout the province. Those agencies would forward the fingerprints and name-change information to the RCMP. If there is a match, the new name would be added to the individual’s criminal record. If there is no match, the fingerprints would be destroyed.

The new fingerprint rules, similar to those in B.C. and Alberta, would not apply to name changes resulting from marriages or divorces. Manitoba’s rules would include youth but the province has asked for recommendations from senior officials on how they should apply to a youth who is changing a name.

In exceptional circumstances, the fingerprint requirement would be waived when, for example, a name change is sought to ensure confidentiality for victims of domestic violence or stalking, the minister said.

“No longer will child sex offenders be able to hide their previous criminal histories when they are screened for employment or volunteer opportunities. We applaud the Manitoba government for closing this loophole which will better protect Manitoba’s children,” said Lianna MacDonald, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

“This new rule would ensure those attempting to elude detection through name changes will come to the attention of the RCMP when being dealt with in our communities,” said Assistant Commissioner Bill Robinson, commanding officer of RCMP ‘D’ Division. “The ability for the RCMP to quickly and accurately identify offenders and those participating in criminal activities who have criminal records is crucially important to law enforcement agencies in Manitoba and across Canada. As the commanding officer of the RCMP in Manitoba, I am very pleased that this change has been introduced.”

“The Winnipeg Police Service supports this change as it targets offenders and protects the public and those most vulnerable,” said Winnipeg Police Chief Keith McCaskill. “This is a valuable step in the right direction and we encourage other jurisdictions to follow suit.

“All Canadian jurisdictions are examining the name-change process and Manitoba will be among the first provinces to introduce these much-needed changes to ensure criminals do not hide behind new names,” Mackintosh concluded.

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