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  • What is a current police check?

    Have you been asked to bring a "recent" Police Check certificate while the one you submitted was turned down? Well, this is a slightly common practice among most employers in Australia these days.

    Now that a Police Check is becoming the standard means to assess a candidate’s/employee’s legal records; organisations are a bit "picky" about the age of the Police Check certificate they accept. The criminal record is a constantly updated record depending on the candidates' interactions with the law, and Employers may be justified in requesting recent records.

    Is there a special “current” police Check record?

    There is no criminal history check known as "current"; all nationally coordinated criminal history checks (NCCHC) are the same and display the same information about an individual. Although most employers or agencies refer to “current” police checks, they are just talking about the candidate submitting a check that was recently obtained.

    Generally, employers and decision makers refer to a “Current Police Check” as a check that was obtained within the last three (3) months.

    A “current” Police Check is an updated certificate from your current criminal records. It will include all the changes to your previous criminal records (if any) since you last obtained a criminal history check certificate.

    How do Employers and requesting parties determine a Current record?

    While most employers or agencies request the applicant to submit a "current" Police Check record, the term "current" may vary depending on the organisation and what they do. Some organisations/roles require Police Check not more than three, or six months old.

    However, most organisations implicitly agree on a "current" of not older than three months.

    If your Police Check is older than three months in such organisations, it can be rightfully rejected as obsolete.

    When does a Police Check expire in Australia?

    The Police Check is a point-in-time check; it continues to run until either party considers it an obsolete account of the criminal record. The certificate carries the date of issue that it becomes valid, but it never specifies the expiration period.

    So, technically, the Police Check cannot expire, but the information can become obsolete after a certain time period due to the importance of what it discloses.

    Those who request a criminal history check certificate are more interested in the candidate’s recent records. For such cases, submitting a Police Check certificate conducted a year apart may be obsolete to the requesting party depending on their internal risk mitigation policies.

    Can a party refuse a Police Check result for being too old?

    Yes, the requesting party has the right to refuse a Police Check certificate if they consider it too old per their internal organisation policies.

    The Australian government encourages all organisations to have a written and detailed internal policy, especially for;

    Can convictions change in a “Current” Police Check certificate?

    The convictions on a current Police Check are just the updated details from the last time you applied for a Check. If you have gotten other convictions since your previous check, expect it on the updated Police Check result.

    The principle remains; The certificate releases your Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCOs). So if a conviction was Spent since the last time you conducted the Police Check, it no longer shows up in the current Check.

    The details on your current Criminal History Check include;

    How often does an Employer request a Police Check?

    If the Employer already states the age limit of Police Checks in the vacancy advertisement, they can rightfully refuse your Check.

    Employers may also request updated Police Check results from their staff or a current employee within respectable periods. In such a case, the person must apply for the Police Check before the Employer stipulates a time limit. Typically, a number organisations require their employees to obtain Police Check renewals at least once every year.

    Why do most Employers request Police Checks less than three months old?

    The Police Check is sourced from the criminal record on the Australian Criminal database. A candidate's criminal histories will be updated based on their court convictions and other violations handled in a court.

    Employers believe that three months is a respectable period for a sound risk mitigation strategy. The three months is a safe period that the candidate has not received another conviction since their last Police Check.

    Although this statistic may not always be true, it provides some form of threshold that works for both the requesting party and the candidate.

    On the other hand, increasing this period above three months may be risky for the organisation, especially if that person is a mild/recurrent offender. For example, evaluating a candidate based on a six-month-old and above Police Check certificate means that the decision-makers will have a gap in the candidate's criminal history for a six months period.

    Where can I get a Current Police Check in Australia?

    The Police Checks are now easier to obtain, especially now that the government approves some service providers to process criminal history checks. Accredited service providers like Australian National Character Check (ANCC) offer a completely online service to applicants and approved organisations.

    • Online application via ANCC

    Candidates who apply online can obtain a Police Check in as little as 48 hours of their application unless their check gets delayed due to manual processing. Such applications can be completed using a tablet, PC or mobile device. The application forms are entirely online and need no physical requirements unless the applicant wishes to post them manually.

    It is also most useful for organisations and parties that want to monitor and conduct current Police Checks on their staff or employees. The Business Portal on the ANCC platform is a service that helps organisations streamline the entire application process for the Police Check.

    • Applying through a State or Territory Police Force

    Candidates can apply for a Police Check through a Australian Local Police Force. It may require the applicant to fill a paper-based form and include copies of their ID documents for certification or attestation.

    Local police forces generally issue successful applicants with their certificate within ten days of application.

    • Applying through the Local Post office

    The Post office can serve as an intermediary between the applicant and the NPCS for Police Checking.

    Why do people request a Current Police Check certificate?

    There are many reasons to give in favour of requesting "current" Police Checks. When requesting such background checking, whether it is relevant to the role or not, there is no middle ground. And if it is applicable, why request an older certificate?

    Decision makers request current certificates to:

    • ✔ To confirm the candidate's identity

    The recruitment period is challenging for most employers; in addition to assessing a candidate, they have to ensure that their personal information tally with who they claim to be. It helps the recruiter prevent fraud and other forgery attempts.

    As part of the police check process, Australian National Character Check confirms an applicant’s identity.

    • ✔ Allows for better assessment

    It may be easier and more effective to evaluate a candidate based on their recent criminal records. And you only get recent records from a current certificate.

    The law also discourages discriminating against a candidate based on their older criminal records, especially in some 'obsolete' cases.

    • ✔ Maintains the risk policies of the company

    Employers in the finance, vulnerable, privacy, data management and related sectors cannot afford to slip up on their internal risk mitigation strategy. One way to ensure they remain on the right track and continue with maximum caution is to request Current Police Check records.

    Is a “current” Police Check relevant to how decision-makers evaluate a candidate?

    Yes, a candidate's criminal record will be a primary factor when an employer or requesting party assesses the candidates' criminal history check certificate.

    When evaluating a candidate for a role, the Employer uses all the details they can get from their certificate. A person who has a pattern or recent conviction in a “compromising” offence may not be a good suit for the role.

    Wrapping Up

    The Police Checks are conducted nationwide and include all relevant and releasable details of the applicant on the Australian Criminal Database. However, most employers and requesting parties are more concerned about the applicant’s recent records than any old or obsolete records.

    Therefore, a current police check certificate not exceeding three months has become the valid default in Australia for a number of organisations and decision makers.

    How can I obtain a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?


    If you are an individual, you can obtain a national criminal record check certificate online via Australian National Character Check’s police check application and informed consent form. The results are dispatched via email.

    Business and Enterprise Customers

    Business and Enterprise customers are able to sign up to ANCC’s business portal where they can order, manage, track and view candidates’ criminal history check results on their business portal. Organisations will undergo a process for approval prior to being granted access to ANCC’s business portal.

    ANCC sends an invite to the applicant to complete their criminal record check online and handles the application and informed consent form. Contact ANCC’s business and enterprise partnerships team today to enquire about setting up a business portal for your organisation.

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