Big changes from the MoJ #3 - don't trust self-checks!

By now you may be aware that on May 3, the Ministry of Justice is shutting down their free third party criminal record check service.

If your organisation does lots of criminal record checks, this may be quite a big deal for you, as third party checks from the MoJ will now cost $11 each. If you do hundreds or thousands of free checks a year, that's many thousands of dollars per year that you'll need to find.

Even if you currently use the cheapest available priority service - the bronze 15 day check at $8.50 - you're still going to end up in the red.

When money is tight, it can be tempting to look for short cuts. So what are your options?

What about switching to self-checks?

One tempting idea might be to get the candidate to do their own check, and then email you the result.

In the past this wasn't a very tempting option, as self checks were slow, just like free third party checks.

There was no advantage in trying to use self-checks over third party checks - both were free and both were slow.

That all changes on May 3. Self-checks will remain free, but now there's no time penalty - self-checks have the same 3 day turnaround as third party checks. The old 3, 10, 15 and 20 working days service levels are a thing of the past.

To summarise, from May 3, self-checks are free and fast, so why not use them?

Can you trust a self-check emailed to you by your candidate?

So is it a good idea to ask your candidate to get their own criminal record and then email it to you?

In a word - NO! It's a terrible idea and a huge security hole.

You cannot trust a criminal record check emailed to you by your candidate, because your candidate might well have modified the result or even forged it entirely.

You might think this sound a little dramatic - after all, most of your candidates are unlikely to be cyber criminals.

Be assured, this is not dramatic. Your candidate does not need to be a hacker to pull this off. Absolutely anyone can do it, and it takes only seconds.

That's because the file containing the result that MoJ sends out is not protected in any way. It's a simple pdf file with no digital signatures or protections of any kind. With the right software you can simply open it and edit it - it's that simple.

How about asking the MoJ to send the self-check result directly to you?

As you can imagine, this won't work either (or it would be a third party check :)

The MoJ explicitly states that they will only send self-check results directly to the candidate. From there, the candidate can pass it on to anyone else they choose to. However since they are sending it from their own email, on their own computer, there is absolutely no assurance that they have not tampered with it along the way.

Surely people are not that cunning?

As kiwis, we like to think that most people play with a straight bat. It's not pleasant to think of people gaming the system, lying and deceiving.  

However any large HR department will likely have seen candidate criminal records containing offences involving altering documents for pecuniary advantage. And that's only the tip of the iceberg - many more criminals won't even apply for jobs when they know their criminal record will come to light.

So unfortunately yes - while 99% of people would never dream of modifying their criminal record, you need to plan for the 1% who will not just dream it, they'll do it.

Your options

There are plenty of creative ways to cost-effectively get someone's criminal record - but asking them to email you their self-check result is not one of them.

Get in touch at or call us on 09-9730990 if we can help you develop a solution that's right for your business.

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