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EMPS Annual Screening Report 2012





EMPS, South Africa’s oldest, premier background checking company, has released its 2012 Screening Report – a statistical analysis of background screening checks and vetting trends, in SA, over the past year. Once again the results of the 2012 report strongly confirm that background checks remain a crucial component of the hiring process.


 Criminal Record Checking

2012 was a very significant year, in that the means of doing criminal checks on potential applicants fully relied on the use of finger-prints (AFIS-Automated Fingerprint Identification System). Unlike previous years when there was still access to name/ID searches. 2012 therefore provides us with the first full year of statistical analysis of criminal records using fingerprints and the statistics are frightening for potential employers.


The percentage of job applicants with a criminal record in 2012 is 11.5%, up on last year’s 11%. A look at the types of convictions reveal theft, assault, road traffic act and drug offences as the top 4 offences, accounting for over 70% of the records. For the 4th year in a row theft is the highest, at 25%. Fraud, housebreaking, robbery and possession of stolen goods accounts for a further 10%. Further, a staggering 30.26% of the applicants who have a criminal record are repeat offenders. 17.36% have 2 offences, a further 6.13% have 3 convictions and 2.77% have 4 convictions. An additional 4% had between 5 and 10+ convictions. EMPS also encountered a record 17 convictions in 2012.


The dates on which the applicants were convicted of their crimes ranges from 1970 to 2012, although 73% of all the convictions are within the past ten years.


The actual detail of the criminal checks is of the utmost importance when using criminal checks as a means of screening job applicants. It is not fair labour practice to decline a job applicant on a “possible criminal record”. Because the criminal checking process works in such a way that employers get an initial result which is clear or “possible illicit activity” (possible criminal record) and then they have to wait 3-8 weeks for the detailed conviction report, many make decisions on a possible report. Our analysis of the results has revealed that 2% of all possible records returned, the applicant has no criminal record. In addition to the possibility that there is no record, employers also need to consider the type of record and the date of conviction to determine whether it is in fact relevant to the position for which the applicant has applied.   

General screening checks

An analysis of all the checks most commonly performed by clients across all sectors revealed; Criminal checks are most common check performed by 92% of clients, credit checks by 67%, qualification verifications by 62% and identity checks by 59%. A significant finding is the increased use of South African Fraud Prevention Service database check (SAFPS) at 29%. This check gained huge popularity in 2012. This database is a listing of individuals who have committed any type of fraud (identify, credit card, employment). This check is very popular as people listed on this database have in most cases not been convicted criminally, thus you will not pick up this information via a criminal check.

 Some of the other findings include;

The percentage of applicants with credit records remains above 20%, although it is the lowest it has been in 5 years.

The number of unverifiable qualifications in 2012 has come down substantially from 2010 but remains very high at 8.5% of qualifications being falsified.

13% of matric certificates submitted were fraudulent.

We saw an increase in fraudulent ID documents from 2011 to 2012, from 9% to 10%.

8% of driver’s licenses were not valid.

 The findings of EMPS’s Annual Screening report clearly shows that organisations can uncover material variances in candidate representations through employment screening. In addition to ensuring applicant qualifications are valid, organizations need to ensure that their screening processes protect their organization against risks of violence, theft, and brand damage.