Indexing PDFs

ORPALIS PDF OCR Free is a Windows tool which converts PDF files into fully searchable documents. It scans a PDF file and recognises all its text–even within images–and then exports a new PDF file that now has all its text searchable. This is useful with scanned documents, as it allows you to use the regular Search tool, rather than reading every page of the document.

ORPALIS offers a lot of useful tools for managing your documents. For example, the professional version converts over 90 document formats whereas the free edition supports only PDF as input. It also recognizes over 60 languages and uses multithreading to process multiple documents at the same time.

Document Scanning with Smart Phones

It is now common practice to take pictures of computer screens, record books, and documents during our research expeditions. I am certain that you want to do the same. Here is a list of scanning applications that may help with your quest for the ideal scanning app:

  • Genius Scan for ios. This app turns phone/tablet into PDF scanner w/Dropbox/GDrive integration.
  • CamScanner for Android, iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone 8
  • Tiny Scanner allows you to create PDF documents with multiple scans. Scans are saved to your phone as images or PDFs. For Android, iPhone and both free and pro versions exist.
  • Scannable from Evernote. Requires iOS 8.0 or later and compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Beware, scans are only saved to your device for 30 days unless you disable this in the “Advanced” settings.

All of the above will create a PDF of the scanned content. The next post will offer a solution to indexing the PDF files to make them searchable.

CPIC only reports indictable and hybrid offences

Canadian Police Information Centre

In Canada, a criminal record is a documented guilty conviction with registration of the offenders name in CPIC (Canadian Police Information Centre).

CPIC Content

“Canada’s repository of criminal records relates to individuals that have been charged with indictable and/or hybrid offences. Since the Identification of Criminals Act only allows the taking of fingerprints in relation to indictable or hybrid offences, and the RCMP National Repository of Criminal Records is fingerprint-based, the National Repository only contains information relating to these two categories of offences. Summary conviction offences are only included in the National Repository if submitted as part of an occurrence involving an indictable or hybrid offence.” [source: rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/dissemination-criminal-record-information-policy  (20 Jan 16)]

Hybrid Offences

Hybrid Offences or Dual-Procedure Offences may proceed as either summary conviction offences or indictable offences. The Crown chooses the mode of prosecution but usually prosecutes the less serious of these as summary conviction offences. The crown may proceed on the hybrid offences as more serious indictable offences when the  circumstances make the crime more serious.

The Internet Profile & Identity

In the industrialized countries, a person’s Internet profile is given far too much credence. If you become involved in Investigative Internet Research, then you must combine the Internet profile you develop with authoritative public records and content from a variety of database aggregators.

This is of critical importance as more than one person often uses the same screen name or a screen name may be used maliciously. The more data you collect, the more likely that you will attribute some data to the wrong person.

Mapping a person’s identity is nothing more than comparing gender, race, location, religion, friends, family, car, pictures, etc. to what you know about the subject and what you find in a variety of sources. This ensures that all the data is consistent and relates to only one person. It will also identify inconsistencies in the collected data, which you may choose to investigate. The identifiers are the subject’s name, along with age, gender, race, employer, location, religion, friends, family, car, pictures, etc..

Canadian Criminal Court Documents

The following lists the court documents that you should order when reviewing an accused’s involvement in a criminal prosecution in Canada.

In Canada, the charges are contained in the ‘Information‘. A person must swear under oath that the information about the crimes committed is true. This document usually contains a list of appearances and a synopsis of the verdict. It also identifies the victim and any co-accused.

The Bail or Recognisance will explain the conditions of the accused’s pretrial release. This may identify the sureties, where the accused must live, and other conditions such a a prohibition of having weapons.

Search warrants are a treasure trove of useful information because the police will meticulously explain their need for the warrant. However, court staff often try to prevent you access to these, but they are public record unless sealed by a court order.

Probation orders are like the Bail document in that they set out conditions. However, they also may indicate where the subject lived. In some cases, the probation order will be sent to another province. In that case, you know that during his probation, he was living in that province and a search of criminal court records in that province is indicated to see if he abided by the conditions of his probation.

Exhibits also represent a valuable source of information. Once a case is concluded, you may view the exhibits. Like search warrants, the court staff often tries to deny your access to exhibits. Persevere and demand access to the exhibits and you will eventually get to view them.

Free Corporate Searches

In Canada, 10 provinces, 3 territories, and the federal government allow the formation of corporations. Only four of ten provinces and the federal government make corporate filings available  online at no cost, these sites are as follows:

Only the federal corporation site allows searching by a director name (use site: command in Google). Only Alberta and Quebec report share holders.

The only free search for officer and directors are OpenCorporates and LandOfFree.com. Neither of these can be relied upon to have all Canadian corporations or up-to-date databases.

What was the Weather Like?

Wolfram Alpha is an interesting answer engine. It answers questions by computing the answer from curated, structured data, rather than providing a list of web pages that contain the search words like normal search engines.

Investigations often hinge on local conditions such as weather. When I need to estimate the weather conditions or compare someone’s description of the weather to actual conditions, I type in a search term like “what was the weather in toronto on july 1, 1967”. Sometimes, Wolfram Alpha has no data from which to formulate an answer such as happened with this search. If you substitute the years 1950 or 2000 you get answers, but not for 1967.

Of course I verify what I get from Wolfram Alpha through official sources.

Getting Advance Knowledge of New Products

Companies operating in the U.S. often file ‘Intent-To-Use’ applications for trademarks and thereby disclose the names and descriptions of forthcoming products and services six months before the product launch. Extensions of up to two years are sometimes granted if the launch process becomes bogged down.

Searching the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office will find the ‘Intent-To-Use’ applications.

Cut-outs & Disinformation as a Search Strategy

We often use cut-outs to gather information in smaller communities as government clerks occasionally talk too much. Sometimes they deliberately tell the subject, or even local news media, that a search is underway. We never tell our agents why our client needs the information. We frequently request unrelated documents from the same government office to conceal why we are using the agent’s services. This disinformation also proves useful should our agent become too talkative while doing his job.

We often find it prudent to get an agent in another province to requisition federal government documents under the Access to Information Act as we are sometimes seen as adversarial towards government or bureaucratic interests. While we have never had a request denied, we have certainly been delayed because the department involved has guessed for whom we act.

What CPIC Doesn’t Report

The Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) was created in 1966 as an information system for Canadian law enforcement agencies. It is the sole nationwide repository of criminal convictions in Canada. Many employers require a search of CPIC before hiring.

When a search is conducted for employment, you must understand what it doesn’t report.

A Canadian Police Criminal Record Check WILL NOT include:

  • Outstanding entries, such as charges and warrants, judicial orders, Peace Bonds, Probation and Prohibition Orders.
  • Absolute and Conditional Discharges.
  • Convictions where a pardon has been granted.
  • Convictions under provincial statutes.
  • Local Police contacts.
  • Ministry of Transportation information.
  • Family Court Restraining Orders.
  • Foreign information.
  • Charged and processed by other means such as Diversion.
  • Any reference to incidents involving mental health contact that did not result in a conviction.
  • Any information under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA ).

UK Company and Director Information

Company Check Ltd. has “compiled records of over 5 million company directors (in its Director Check database), every company they are part of and the financials behind them, allowing you to see background information and other interests of company directors in the UK. Information about Directors includes Full Name, Date of Birth and Registered Address.”

They also operate the Company Check site where company registration details, key financials and director records, are currently available at no charge. Paid subscribers can also access current and historical credit scores and limits, county court judgments, detrimental data and more.

To search directors and officers go to:
http://company-director-check.co.uk/
To search companies go to:
http://companycheck.co.uk/

These are not replacements for searches of the authoritative source, Companies House, but they are useful for initial searches.

The descriptions of the two sites raise some questions about content if both represent the same official data source. As you can see above, Director Check says it has records for 5 million directors. However, the Company Check site gives the following stats: “12,000,000 directors listed with 10 million service addresses… 8,000,000 companies stored in our database.” I guess they are saying that they only made 5 million directors searchable in the Director Check database.

Pre-employment Criminal Record Checks

The Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) was created in 1966 as an information system for Canadian law enforcement agencies. It is the sole nationwide repository of criminal convictions in Canada. Many employers require a search of CPIC before hiring. However, this system is not foolproof.

Auditor-General reports going back to 2000 have criticized the CPIC system (see para. 7.86) regarding timely delivery of criminal record data.

The most recent Auditor-General report estimates that the RCMP takes an average of 14 months to update an existing English criminal record in CPIC. The French updates take an average of 36 months. The stated goal is updating a record in 24 hours. Unfortunately, reality is an average time of 334 working days (see para. 5.59 & 5.60). For a new criminal record, the average time to process was 27 working days ( see para. 5.60).

If the employer hires someone with a minor criminal record, they may getting someone with a much more serious, but undisclosed, conviction. If the employer hires someone with no criminal record, the employer may be getting someone with an undisclosed conviction for a serious offence.

 

Searching by Name for Real Estate Holdings in Canada

Occasionally, we get a request to search for ownership of real property throughout Canada.

The provinces have been granted power over “property and civil rights in the province” in Section 92(13) of  The Constitution Act, 1867.  As the provinces control the land registry systems, the type of searches available, and their costs, varies by province.

The four maritime provinces (PEI, NB, NS, NL) can be searched by name.

Searching by name in Quebec is not permitted.

In Ontario, searching by name must be done by searching each land registry office. The Province of Ontario has 54 Land Registry offices. First, we  search by name to locate possible properties, then we do the sub-search of each property to get the abstract of the title.

In Manitoba, about 85% of the titles are in the system. They can be searched by name, then we have to order documents.

In Saskatchewan, we can search by name. Document costs apply if we find a property.

Searching by name is not possible in  Alberta.

We can search in British Columbia by name. There may be additional document costs if we find a property.