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  • How long is the federal police check valid for?

    You may have seen an application requirement that requested the applicant submit an AFP Police Check instead of the usual Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check.

    In other ways and appearance, the AFP is similar to the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check; a search for all the releasable criminal records of the candidate on the Australian Criminal database. However, the AFP passes through extra confirmation as it is used for mostly "commonwealth or State-sponsored services".

    If the requesting party demands an AFP Police Check, you must apply through the AFP website.

    How Long does the AFP Police Check last?

    Like the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check, the AFP Check does not expire or have a period where it becomes invalid. The AFP Police Check is a Point Time Check; it only contains the time of issuance where the candidate gets the certificate.

    However, most organisations or agencies that request the AFP Police Check put a “validity period” per their internal policies. It is up to the requesting organisation to determine the validity period of a Federal Police Check and this will be based on their internal risk mitigation policies.

    The validity period most organisations include is regulating the "quality" or authenticity of the background checks they accept. Since the AFP Police Check is not only a historical finding of the individual but a continual process (as long as the candidate's criminal will be updated), they consider that the results on the Police Check will become obsolete after the period that is specified on the organisation’s internal risk mitigation policies.

    What do agencies think about an old Police Check?

    The most significant factor in assessing a candidate's Police Check results is the offence's pattern or recency. Usually, the decision-makers are more lenient where the record on the Police Check is older than when they are more recent.

    Requesting parties prefer to assess the candidate’s recent records and how their Good Behaviour or Crime-free period. To them, this means much more than just assessing all the random old convictions or other records on their Police Check.

    Generally, while most decision-makers adopt the three months as a validity period, others state the criteria for an acceptable Police Check result which may be 6 months, one year and so on.

    Is there a difference between the AFP Check and the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?

    Both checks are nationally coordinated searches about a candidate's criminal records in Australia. Most employers or requesting parties do not discriminate between them and will typically accept them for assessments. However, the requesting party may sometimes specify the candidates or applicants to submit the AFP Police Check for their assessments due to special circumstances.

    It may be typical for agencies, commonwealth organisations, and international enterprises to request the AFP Police Check instead of the National Criminal History Check to assess the candidate. The most visible difference between the criminal history check and the AFP Check is in their use or application. For example, a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check is commonly used for employment, volunteering, licensing or accreditation purposes in Australia whereas the AFP check is used for immigration, visa or overseas employment purposes.

    Where will you need an AFP Police Check?

    Most employers or agencies require the Police Check as a standard and foremost background check to assess the candidate's suitability for the role. There is a high chance that you will need a Police background check for any job, application or volunteering position.

    However, the scope, policies or role you seek may determine how they evaluate your Check and the type the agency requires. Some of these include;

    • Overseas employment

    If you seek a role or job with a multinational or a foreign-based agency, you will likely need the AFP Check over the NPC. The NPC's national limitations mostly make it less suitable or wanted for more general purposes like an overseas role.

    • Immigration or Visa purposes

    The Visa and Immigration agency in Australia requests the Federal Police Check as the default certificate for assessing a candidate. Since this agency is in charge of deciding whether to grant a candidate an updated visa or permission to travel outside the country, they will need something other than a nationally coordinated background check.

    • Commonwealth Employment purposes

    The commonwealth scope and agencies exceed Australia and New Zealand and even cross borders to other continents. Most roles will even require extra background checks in addition to the AFP Check.

    The AFP Check is the standard Check to feature guidelines and disclosure principles on par with the Commonwealth regulations.

    • Firearms Licenses

    Although owning a firearm may be a legal or civil right depending on the Territory or State, you still need to obtain a license. It is an offence to use, supply or own a gun or other licensed weapons without a license.

    One of the top requirements for a firearm license application is that the candidate has clean records on their AFP Checks, especially when it comes to offences of;

    Where is the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check valid?

    When used for the purpose of employment, volunteering, licensing or accreditation, the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check and the AFP Police Checks disclose the same information equally valuable for the employer or the decision-makers.

    The NPC is the default and most popular Police Check for various purposes and uses in Australia.

    • For Employment Purposes

    Most employers include the Police Check as a default part of their internal risk mitigation policies. The decision-makers elicit various information from the candidate's Police Check result, including;

    Most organisations are not picky about which of the Police Check certificates the candidates submit, as long as a result is valid.

    • For Volunteer Purposes

    All Volunteers do critical jobs in the Australian economy, especially those who tender to the vulnerable, and those with special needs must do a Police Check. Usually, the Police Check ushers extra background checks like the Working with Children Check or the Aged Care Check in Australia.

    It matters less whether the volunteer is paid or receives any form of compensation before the employer requests the Police Check.

    • For Licensing purposes

    The licensing agency may stipulate a type of Police Check only if the candidate must produce that specific Check. However, any Police Check can be used for assessing a candidate for a license application as long as it contains the relevant records for assessments.;

    Some of them include;

    • Real Estate Licensing
    • Driver Operator Licenses

    • Accreditation or professional bodies

    Most professional or dignified groups try to avoid scandals, rogues and unscrupulous elements. One of the ways to meet up with their internal policies on this is to assess the candidates by their Police Check results.

    It does not matter the kind of Police Check the candidate submits for the assessment for most accreditation bodies.

    Does the AFP Check contain Spent offences?

    The Spent Offences Scheme is a national program, even though individual states may have adjustments or tweaks. The disclosure principle in Australia does not allow the Police Check or other background check to include the Spent Convictions unless by special court or legislation provisions.

    So whether it is an AFP or a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check, your Police Check results will not contain any details about your Spent Conviction in Australia.

    An employer that wants to assess the candidate's Spent convictions may have to prove through some applications to disclosure agencies why it is relevant to the role.

    What is the Spent Convictions Scheme?

    The Spent convictions scheme present in many States allows certain offences to be erased from a candidate's record once the offender has

    • Satisfied a good behaviour period
    • The offence is minor and does not incur punishments greater than 30 months imprisonment.
    • The candidate satisfies all other conditions to the offence.

    What is a good behaviour period?

    The Australian law lists a good behaviour period as a time where the candidate is free from conviction and maintains good civil responsibilities per the law. During this period, the candidate must not re-offend unless it restarts.

    The Good Behavior Period is standard across all the Territories except for slight differences in the terms;

    • Ten years for adult convictions or sentences given in an adult court
    • Five years for juvenile convictions or sentences issued in a juvenile court (3 years in NSW)

    The Good Behavior Period after any offence begins after the jail term if the court imposes imprisonment.

    How can I apply for the Police Check?

    There are different ways to apply for the Police Check, depending on the type of Police Check you need. A convenient application medium for a Police Check is online through service providers like Australian National Character Check.

    The online application can be completed through an internet device such as a mobile, PC or tablet device.

    Other options include;

    • Applying through a Police Force

    The police force can issue a check through their police website.

    If the requesting agency demands an AFP Check, you must go straight to the local Police Office or their website to start an application. Most of the local Police office applications are paper-based and require your physical presence at the Police office to verify or attest ID documents.

    Applying through the AFP can take as long as 10 to 15 days in most instances before the candidate gets their result.

    • Applying through the Local Post office

    The Post office is a third but common choice of applying for the Police Check.

    The candidate must complete the informed consent form and submit their identity document in a mail to complete an application through the Post office.

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