Back to Basics: Understanding Continuous Criminal Monitoring

As part of the Professional Background Screening Association 2020 Virtual Conference, our own Brian Kelly co-presented a session with Vince Pascarella of Wholesale Screening Solutions on moving “beyond the buzzword” of criminal monitoring.  

For those who couldn’t make the conference, here are four key takeaways from the presentation and live Q&A. 

Yes, it really is continuous monitoring. 

Although the industry has been offering monitoring solutions for a decade, these solutions in practice were simply regular re-checks of relevant databases at a monthly, quarterly, or annual cadence. These rescreening services were often branded as “monitoring,” but were built off the same static databases, such as nat-crim, sex offender, or motor vehicle records databases 

It was only in the last few years that background screening companies have gained access to true monitoring of criminal records. Unlike “monitoring” of the past, this new class of service in the industry is continuous. Once an employee or contractor is placed on a watch list, CRAs can receive near real-time alerts on new records. Where background screens have relied on identifying historical criminal behavior, monitoring is forward-looking, helping inform employers of relevant information as soon as it happens.  

New alerts rarely result in termination.  

Because pre-hire background checks are largely used to identify and prevent insider threats, many CRAs assume criminal monitoring has a similar value proposition. However, the process allows employers to take a much more holistic approach. Knowing when an employee is arrested could allow an employer to take proactive action that prevents the need for punitive action later. For example, if an organization learns through criminal monitoring that an employee is arrested, a proactive response could include: 

  • Providing counseling or directing the employee to an assistance program 
  • Redeploying the employee to a different workplace 
  • Reassigning the employee to a different role 
  • Disciplining the employee and providing training 

Termination is a last resort. The majority of alerts provided through criminal monitoring are for low-level offenses. By acting proactively and thoughtfully, employers can increase engagement, retention, and loyalty among their workforce.  

CRAs can use criminal monitoring to deepen their customer relationships.  

When an organization implements a continuous monitoring program, multiple stakeholders — including human resources, security, compliance, risk, and finance might be involved in the decision and rollout of the solution. This presents a opportunity for CRAs to foster more client advocates and become stickier with customers.  

Retaining customers is always an important business goal, but it is even more crucial in today’s economy and hiring environment. By working with a larger set of internal stakeholders, CRAs get a chance to prove their value to a larger number of stakeholders and mitigate the risk of customer churn.  

Continuous monitoring is quickly becoming the norm for CRAs and employers alike.  

Several concurrent factors are contributing to the rapid rise in adoption of criminal monitoring:  

  • Broader public interest in second-chance hiring 
  • Years of growth in remote work, distributed workforces, and marketplace/gig work models, exponentially increasing post-COVID 
  • A shift in human resource department culture away from focus on the employer to focus on the employee 
  • A push for predictable, recurring costs (for employers) and predictable, recurring revenue (for CRAs) 
  • Technological innovation in the CRA supply chain, re-thinking the periodic re-screening model
What industries are adopting criminal monitoring?

Together, these trends have led a quicker adoption of monitoring technology than previous innovations in the screening practice. Industries like staffing, financial services, healthcare, and retail have been among the first to embrace the technology. CRAs of all sizes are adding monitoring to their solution set and expanding the services they offer their customers.  

The future is bright for CRAs who promote monitoring solutions. As employers and the public look for new ways to promote safety and fairness, background screeners have a unique opportunity to grow and improve their service offerings.  

Krisy Bucher, Director of Marketing


Krisy Bucher, Director of Marketing

Krisy Bucher leads Marketing for Appriss Insights. Since joining Appriss in 2016, Krisy has hired and developed a full-service Marketing department to provide exceptional support to Appriss’s customers and strategic channel partners, while leading the organization through multiple rebranding initiatives and product rollouts. Krisy has over 20 years of experience in organizational leadership, marketing, business development, operations, and customer service across a broad range of industries. Krisy is a business-minded artist at heart, having earned her M.B.A. from Western Carolina University and a B.A. in Art History from Emory University. She is a lifelong learner with a passion for developing future leaders. She currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky with her husband, two daughters and their dogs, Maggie and Luna.

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