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How do I know if my police check is current?

The information on this webpage is to be read in conjunction with this disclaimer:
Australian National Character Check (ANCC) makes every effort to provide updated and accurate information to its customers. However due to the continuously changing nature of legislations for the Commonwealth and various States and Territories, it is inevitable that some information may not be up to date. The information on the website is general information only. The contents on the website do not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or professional advice. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, suitability, accuracy or availability with respect to the information.


Providing a background check is a compulsory requirement for almost any role or position you are applying for in Australia. Employers may even initiate or apply for the background to streamline the process or make it easier for the candidate.

However, most police check requests are noticeable because the party always specifies that you submit a "Current" police check certificate for assessment. The problem here is not how to get a “Current” police check but to know when a certificate stops being current.

What is a “Current” police check certificate?

All police check results reveal the court convictions of the candidate on the Australian Criminal database. If the candidate gets another sentence, it will swiftly enter their Criminal records, but without an updated police check certificate, it does not reflect on their certificate.

There is no consensus on what a “Current” police check is. However, most organisations and government screening units implement guidelines when assessing an individual’s criminal record. Therefore, a “Current” police check can differ depending on the organisation’s internal risk mitigation policies or in some circumstances the legislation, if the activity being conducted is a regulated activity.

It means you cannot tell if your police check is current or not if you have not seen the internal policies of the requesting party.

Generally, most employers and decision makers consider a police check conducted within the last three months as a "Current" police check. This however will vary depending on the organisation and their internal risk mitigation policies.

Does the police check expire?

No, the police check certificate does not technically have an expiry date. Since the certificate has no expiry date, an employer can decide independently on how old a police check they accept.

So, while the police check certificate does not “expire” in the technical sense, an employer will replace this with a threshold that suits their organisation’s policies and operation.

Why does the requesting party want a “Current” police check?

Since the Criminal record does not remain permanent (depends on how busy the candidate is with Australian laws), the police check certificate is the only way to reflect the candidate's records at all times.

The purpose of the police check is to analyse the candidate's background records especially relating to the Law in Australia. For such assessments, it is always better when the Employer can analyse the candidate's recent records. A candidate's current records give a lot of helpful insights into the assessment.

Here are some ways why the employers always prefer a “Current” Criminal History Check;


  • A recent analysis of the candidate's records

If you don’t have access to the candidate’s recent records, it can be difficult to tell if a conviction record on their profile is just a one-off or points of a pattern. Having the current record is very helpful, mainly if you operate in a vulnerable sector.


  • Proves the identity of the candidate

The police check is not only a background check but can prove the identity of the candidate. The more recent the certificate, the more authentic it is about the candidate’s identity or profile. For example, a current police check will contain the “latest” information about the owner and can tell a lot about any detail change of the candidate.


  • Updates any change to the conviction records

Some statutory programs may have relieved the offender of certain records in the period between the police checks.


  • Abiding by Australian laws

For some roles (e.g. working in aged care), Australian legislation requires the applicants or candidates to present recent certificates of their police check. It can cost the organisation if they disregard any of these stipulations or recommendations of the Law.

A candidate for a child-related role must have an impeccable record, especially in matters relating to assault offences, abuse or violations of children.

A candidate for a finance-related role should not have a history of fraud offences, stealing or related offences and still get hired for a sensitive position.

How many times will I need a “Current” police check?

Regardless of "current", a police check should not be older than three months from the issuance date if you apply for a role in Australia. The "3 months" period is the maximum limit a number of organisations go about being "in the dark" of the applicant's record. Other organisations may extend this time period to 6 months or one year.

Some of these organisations work in the economy's sensitive sector and employ people with high probity and almost non-existent criminal records, especially in compromising offences.

Furthermore, employers request updated checks from their employees within a respectable period (per their internal policies). In many organisations, you may need to provide a "Current" police check once every year.

The Employer uses the police check to ensure that the employee has not received a recent conviction that will compromise their position or roles.

Why does an Employer require a police check even during the job?

Final employment is not an excuse or a preclusion to updating your Criminal History Check. For some roles, you will continually have to present an updated certificate.

Employers require the candidate to continue updating their Criminal History Check even after getting the job if a court convicts them of a grievous or compromising offence within that period.

For example, a person who had a "good" record before being hired as a Company Driver and then gets convicted for a DUI offence, sexual assault or serious Speeding offences has compromised their roles by such violations.

My police check is no longer "Current"

Most organisations or Employers do not bother assessing your police check certificate once they consider it "obsolete".

The Law encourages all requesting parties to document their internal policies on assessment of criminal records so that the employee can understand beforehand.

If you discover that your police check falls outside the threshold for those that the organisation accepts, it is time for you to update Check. Updating your police check may also be called a police check renewal, depending on which you choose.

How do I renew a police check?

The process of renewing a police check in Australia is not different from an initial police check application. In Australia, you can commence your Check through three primary mediums;


  • Online application

The most convenient means of applying for a police check is that candidates can log in and apply for their police check from anywhere in Australia. And regardless of their schedule, the applicant can complete all applications in record time without compromising. It generally takes less than 15 minutes to complete a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check application in Australia.

Online applications are processed quickly, and the candidate can get their result usually within hours of the application unless their check is referred for manual processing in which case it will take longer.

When renewing your police check online, you still need to attach your updated Identity documents (if any details have changed since the last time you applied for the police check.


  • Through the Local Police office

Applicants can apply for the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check through their local Police office regardless of their State/Territory. Applying through the local police office may be a physical and paper-based method that requires the candidate’s presence at the local Police office to verify or attest identification documents.

The local Police office remains a place to get a valid and current police check certificate.

Your police check renewal should take around 10 working days when you apply via a State or Territory police force.


  • Through the Local Post office

Like any of the above agencies, the post office transfers the completed police check application from the applicant to the NPCS and vice versa.

When applying through the post office, the applicant must include all necessary application details to prevent complexities in the checking.

How does an Employer decide on a Current police check?

Employers generally don’t just decide randomly on which police check certificate to accept or decline during recruitments. Usually, such a decision should be a reflection of their internal policies.

However, the Employer must decide on internal policies that are not contradictory to the Australian laws.

Is it only employers that request for “Current” police checks?

Licensing agencies, accreditation bodies, Employers and every party that requires the police check demand that the candidate provides a current police check. Almost all the guidelines or rules for an employee or candidate remain the same for other people who submit a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check.


  • Licensing agencies

When applying for specific licenses like Commercial Driver license, the government screening agency will request that you only provide updated police checks. And by "updated", they may refer to police check certificates that are not older than three months from the issuance period.

Other sensitive licenses, including a gaming license will require the candidate to provide an updated police check certificate for the purpose of licensing.


  • Accredited Bodies

If you have to join a professional body or organisation in Australia, you may need a police check and other background checks for personal probity.

Professional bodies are usually cautious of those they admit into their organisations. And it includes the fact that you should not have a severe compromising conviction relating to that role.

Can the requesting party refuse you the role or position due to a police check?

The organisation can, under the bounds of the Law, refuse you the position, license or job if your police check certificate falls outside the requirement of their internal policies. However, this does not grant the organisation impunity when assessing a candidate's records.

Organisations should handle a candidate’s criminal history check certificate with robust policies in place that prevent discrimination based on a criminal record.

What details change about a Current police check?

The Current police check includes all the latest details of the candidate from their criminal records. It includes removing all Good Behaviour Bonds that are expired. So, your Current police check may even turn out with a Disclosable Court Outcome if your offence is committed for special programs in Australia.

The Current police check certificate contains the following records;

For an Employment police check, an applicant can expect to find their;

  • Conviction records, especially those relevant to the role,
  • Pending criminal charges, especially those applicable to the role,
  • Findings of guilt where the court does not give a conviction,
  • Offences against corporate bodies,
  • Assault cases at work,
  • Fraud and stealing offences committed against an organisation or a person,
  • Mismanagement of public funds for which the court found you guilty,
  • Misappropriation convictions,
  • Other financial related crimes.

How can I obtain a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?

Individuals

If you are an individual, you can obtain a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History 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 of approval prior to being granted access to ANCC’s business portal for the purpose of police checks.

ANCC sends an invite to the applicant to complete their Nationally Coordinated Criminal History 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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The content on this website is communicated to you on behalf of Australian National Character Check™ (ANCC®) pursuant to Part VB of the Copyright Act 1968 (the Act).

The material in this communication may be subject to copyright under the Act. Any further reproduction of this material may be the subject of copyright protection under the Act.

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The contents of this website do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or professional advice.

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