The state agency tasked with the public service of providing criminal history information in Pennsylvania is the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP). It maintains the criminal history database of the State Central Repository. Its main functions include storage and dissemination of all criminal records for Pennsylvania residents, official agencies and private individuals alike.
The most prominent feature of the PSP in providing the Pennsylvania public with criminal background information service is the Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History (PATCH). It is a web-based computer application online system in which both registered and non-registered users are given access to criminal records. Ordinary citizens (non-registered users) can only conduct name-based searches while law enforcers and other official agencies (registered users) may run fingerprint-based lookups.
Pennsylvania State Police contact info.
Address: Pennsylvania State Police
Bureau of Records and Identification
1800 Elmerton Avenue
Harrisburg, PA 17110
Telephone: (717) 783-5556
The cost for arrest record searches is $10 per name. For fingerprint searches, the required fingerprint cards can be ordered from the state and collected at the local police station. Scanned fingerprints should then be submitted to the Pennsylvania Criminal Information Center to activate the search.
It must be noted that the criminal records information provided by the PSP through PATCH does not preclude the existence of criminal records elsewhere such as the repositories of other states or federal criminal justice agencies. This could be a problem for Pennsylvania residents who need to check beyond their own state. Fortunately, private commercial record providers abound online these days and they are the perfect solution for such situations. The established ones typically operate nationwide databases and network. They are highly professional and in fact superior to PATCH in several ways.