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  • How do I know if my police check is current?

    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. For example, if the offender has some spent convictions, it will appear on the updated Police Check. And it is unethical and "inappropriate" for the Employer to assess the candidate based on their Spent Conviction unless it compromises their role or functions.

    • 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 Criminal Record 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 National Police 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. For example, it is wrong for the Employer to assess a candidate's Spent convictions or evaluate them based on offences that have no relation to the role or position they seek.

    Is it only employers that request for “Current” Police Checks?

    Licensing agencies, accreditation bodies, Volunteering services, 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 Criminal Record 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 criminal history check certificate for the purpose of licensing.

    • Volunteering Organisations

    The Australian Volunteering sector caters for almost all parts of the country and economy. Most times, they are the forerunners in sensitive sectors like Healthcare, aged care, child services, caring for the vulnerable etc. It is almost impossible to get a volunteer role without a current Police Check. Most volunteering organisations are more rigid and meticulous in hiring volunteers.

    • 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 Spent offences and other 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.

    What are Spent Convictions?

    Under the Spent Convictions Scheme, some offences are removed from a candidate’s criminal records. These offences can never show up in their records unless they recommit in the offence.

    Also, the person must satisfy a period of Good Behaviour for their offences to qualify under the Spent Convictions Scheme. The period of Good Behaviour is also a crime-free period or waiting time depending on the jurisdiction.

    The Crime free period in Australia is;

    A Spent Conviction will not appear on a Current Police Check nor subsequent Checks and save the candidate from declaring such records unless it is dire to the position.

    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 of approval prior to being granted access to ANCC’s business portal for the purpose of criminal history checks.

    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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