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  • How long should a police check take?

    It is standard to ask for a background check before an employer or agency grants a role or responsibility to a candidate. The Police Check is the most popular of all background Checks in Australia, regardless of the sector or the area you need it.

    Numerous people use the Check, which makes it the standard means of checking for a person's suitability for a role or position. Therefore, how long should the application process be for a background check as vast and valuable as this? Knowing that delays in the process can affect professional duties.

    Several factors affect how long your Police Check application will take, and the chief of them is how you apply (medium of application).

    There are three mediums of applying for the Police Check. Of these, the online application for the Police Check tends to be the fastest and most popular method of applying for the national criminal history check.

    A national police check can be obtained online via the Australian National Character Check (ANCC) website. Most national police checks are dispatched to applicants within 24 to 48 hours, with the remainder that get referred for manual processing taking longer.

    Below we outline how long a police check should take depending on the various mediums that offer national criminal history checks in Australia.


    • Online application

    The online application runs through an approved service provider’s portal like the ANCC. Since the entire application process is online, there is usually no time wasted in transferring paper or manual documents around the place.

    You can complete the online application within minutes, including the verification and payment process, all of which are online.

    Candidates who apply through the online portals usually receive their Police Check result within 24 to 48 hours of applying, unless due to delays or errors in the police check application or if the check gets referred for manual processing. If the check is referred for manual processing, applicants should allow up to 15+ business days to receive a result as the manual processing is entirely dependent on the police agencies to complete their vetting process.


    • Applying Physically

    There are some cases where the candidate must apply physical for the Police Check, such as;

    • Fingerprint Check,
    • AFP Police Check,
    • Ammonium Nitrate Check.

    The Local Police office is for every candidate who wants to apply physically for their Police Check. Whatever the type of Police background checks the candidate is applying for, they generally must visit a Police office to apply physically.

    The application period for an AFP Police Check should be allowed between 10 and 15 business days to receive a result. A fingerprint check (if required) will take longer.


    • Applying through the Post office

    The Post office helps to transfer documents, commodities and products of various kinds across Australia, and it does the same with the Police Check. After completing the Informed Consent Form (application) form for the Police Check, the post office forwards the application to the NPCS.

    What you send must include the complete documents with the requested Identity Documents that correctly corroborate any of the records you have provided in the application.

    The Post office generally returns the completed Police Check within 5 to 15 days of application. Exceptions will apply if a check is referred for manual processing.

    Can the Police Check process be delayed?

    Yes, there are thousands of Police Check applications exceeding their time at the NPCS for some issues. About 30% of all Police Check applications submitted to the NPCS get delayed for different reasons. The most typical cause of delay for the Police Check application is due to the need for manual processing.

    Also, if there are errors or complexities in an application, it can affect the processing of the Check algorithm pending when an official comes to correct or adjust it.

    How long is a Police Check delay?

    If your Police Check application is delayed, the result usually comes out later than the average period. If there is missing or incomplete information in the application, the service provider where you initiated your application will contact you via a “request for further information”. The time period to respond to a request for further information will depend on how fast the applicant can provide and re-submit the correct information.

    If the delay is due to manual processing due to a potential match, you will need to be patient until the police agencies have completed their vetting. Manual processing may delay an application from anywhere between 3 to 15+ business days.

    What are the causes of delay to a Police Check in Australia?

    Some causes of the delays are;

    • Manual Processing

    Your application can be flagged for manual processing if there is a potential match in your application. Flagging an account for manual processing means a human will have to take over the checking process manually.

    If an application is flagged for manual review, it can take between 3 and 15+ days extra before the applicant gets their Police Check result.

    There are many reasons for a manual review, including;

    Shared Names on a Profile; if you share a name or other information with another profile on the Criminal database, it may need the special attention of an official to verify such a check.


    • Misplaced information

    If your application is missing some information, it may disrupt the Checking process. It is not easy to have the Check algorithm correct the errors in the information or application unless an official of the NPCS does so by referencing the ID.


    • Missing information

    Leaving an important field blank will cause the check system to discontinue the Checking.


    • Lots of verifications amongst the Jurisdictions

    Most applicants don’t know that their application must be vetted by the various Police jurisdiction in the places they have resided. An applicant who has lived in several States or Territories, especially within a short period, will likely have their Police application delayed.


    • Conflicting information

    If the dates between two different periods on the application clash, it can be confusing for the Check algorithm. The algorithm may flag the application for potential error.


    • Complex addresses or information

    Where certain information like the addresses or previous known names is not precise, a human official may be required to supervise the process and resolve the issue.


    • Outstanding records or charges

    If the candidate is;

    • Yet to serve a legal punishment, or
    • Has a serious infringement notice or
    • Subsequently a person of interest to the law enforcement forces,

    The NPCS may have to transfer the applicant’s data to the respective Police jurisdiction. The process in moving the Police Check to the Jurisdiction will slow down the Police Check.

    Can I hasten my Police Check application?

    The Police Check is a non-influenced process; the entire checking is completed by an algorithm that crawls through the applicant's information-seeking a correlation with the data on the national criminal database.

    The Police Check is independent of any individual agency or group; it cannot be influenced by any factor.

    Some online platforms like ANCC offer a "Track a Check" option that allows the candidate to monitor their application.

    What if I need my Police Check result urgently?

    There are some cases where the applicant may have a short window to submit their Check, and a delay may affect their chances or application entirely.

    If your application is running late, reach out to the requesting party and inform them about your Police Check application delays. You may even provide the result of the "Track a Police Check" to prove that you have already started an application.

    Does a delayed Police Check mean I failed my Police Check?

    No, you cannot decide that you have failed a Police Check just because your application is taking a while. There are various reasons for a delayed Police Check, and "Failing" the check is not one.

    The delay in your Police Check has little to do with the outcome of the Check.

    How long will a Police Check last?

    Even after you obtain a Police Check in Australia, your employer may request you to provide updated Checks at respectable intervals. The Police Check only contains the date of issuance and is a point in time check.

    A Criminal History Check in Australia will remain valid as long as both parties consider the result relevant to the role.

    From what date does a delayed Check become valid?

    If your Police Check is delayed, it will bear the new date of issue. It does not matter how many days your Police Check is delayed; it will bear the regular date when the NPCS issues the certificate.

    Any other reference about the Police Check will start from the date you were issued the Check instead of the supposed date.

    How can I tell that my Police Check will be delayed?

    No agency or official can tell which application will be delayed in the Checking process. All applications have equal chances of being processed within the stipulated/average time to process the Check.

    The NPCS uses a computer algorithm to search and compare all applications with the data on the Australian Criminal Database.

    How do I handle a delay in my Police Check?

    We understand how painful it is to have your Police Check delayed, but you must understand that there is little anyone can do about the delay.

    ANCC has procedures in place to inform all its applicants if their Criminal Background Check is delayed.

    The ANCC will provide regular updates about your application if it gets delayed during the checking process. And no, you don't have to pay for any of these updates when the ANCC provides them.

    Is the Police Check a paid service?

    Yes, you have to pay for the Police Check anytime you make an application. The online application carries a base fee and a further fee for a hard copy (if required).

    However, the fee for the Police Check may also vary depending on the type of check;

    • Name Check (can be obtained from from an online accredited service provider like ANCC),
    • Fingerprint Check (can only be obtained from a State or Territory Police Force),
    • Ammonium Nitrate Check (can only be obtained via the AFP),
    • AFP Police Check (can only be obtained via the AFP).

    Can I apply for the Police Check anywhere in Australia?

    The Police Check is a nationally coordinated criminal history check; you can apply for the Check anywhere in Australia. Also, the Check can be used across the various States and Territories in Australia as long as they are for the same purpose or role.

    A Police Check in Queensland can be used in Tasmania, Victoria or any other place in Australia.

    Can an employer refuse a candidate because of an expired Police Check?

    The Australian law encourages employers and decision makers to have a written internal risk strategy.

    If it is an organisation's policy for the employees to present updated Police Check results, and the candidate defaults, the employer can deal with such according to their policies. However, such policies must not be discriminatory or outside the Australian laws.

    Therefore, an employer may dismiss an employee or refuse the role if they default on known organisational policies or terms in their employment contract.

    How can I obtain a national criminal history check?

    Individuals

    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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