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  • How to verify a police check result

    For many Australian-based organisations, police checks are now a norm in the onboarding process of new hires. Understandably, police checks provide access to applicants' criminal records, which offers immense insight into their suitability, thus helping employers reduce hiring risk.

    A police check involves gathering criminal-related records from the National Police Checking Service's databases across Australian states and territories. The police check only reveals disclosable court outcomes at the end of the day. While this checking process is robust, it is not 100% foolproof.

    Whether you're an applicant or a company, how can you verify the authenticity of a police check result? This post seeks to answer that question. But to do that, you must first understand what a police check entails and the checking process.

    What is a Police Check?

    A police check is a document showing a person's criminal history. A Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check displays one of two possible results:

    A DCO indicates that a person has criminal history relevant to the purpose of the check. For example, if you are applying for a driving-related position, your police check will contain driving-related offences (if there are any). On the other hand, an NDCO indicates that a person has a clean criminal record, no criminal record related to the check's defined purpose, or records removed based on the Spent Convictions Scheme.

    However, irrespective of the purpose of the check, certain offences will always appear as DCOs. Some examples include convictions, charges, pending charges, court appearances, court orders, penalties, and finding of guilt with no convictions.

    The Police Check Process

    The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) works with Australian police agencies and accredited bodies like the Australian National Character Check to provide the National Police Checking Service.

    To do a police check, you need to apply to an ACIC accredited body or any Australian police agency. Typically, you need to provide basic personal information on the application form and give written consent. You'll also need to provide additional documents like identification documents.

    Once this stage is complete, your details are inputted into the National Police Checking Service Support System (NSS). The ACIC owns this national IT system, and it is a robust database that holds criminal and conviction-related information in Australia.

    The aim is to find potential matches with the applicant's name. These matches are compared with police information available in Australian Police records. After that, the relevant Australian police agency releases relevant criminal information subject to non-disclosure convictions, spent convictions, or information release policies.

    Verifying a police check result

    Individuals and companies can be confident about the authenticity of a police check result if the check has been carried out by an ACIC-accredited provider or Australian police agency. Why? Because the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission is responsible for the National Police Checking Service in Australia.

    Once this check is completed and returned, it contains a unique verification number. This unique code provides a link to a person's point-in-time check. You can use this code to authenticate the validity of the results.

    This unique verification number can also also be called "Check ID" or "Certificate Verification number”. Usually, this code is on the top left or right corner of the check result.

    Note that only the original service provider can verify police check certificates. The Certificate Verification number and person's email address are inputted to the provider's verification service website for most providers.

    For example, the Australian National Character Check provides a "verify a police check" service on its website, where you get to fill out the last or single name and certification verification number. After that, the system instantly checks with ANCC’s record to verify that the Australian National Character Check issued that certificate.

    If you've used a different provider, you must approach the original service provider to verify the police check certificate. However, the process is very similar.

    Specific Identification items to note

    Another way to check the authenticity of a nationally coordinated criminal history check certificate is to look out for specific identification items. The features of a valid police certificate include:

    ✔ Basic information

    This section is located at the top of the certificate. It contains information on the certificate owner's name, the report date and time, certificate verification number, and the like.

    ✔ Limitation on accuracy and use of criminal history certificate

    The section provides details on the offences revealed in the police check subject to relevant laws. It also discloses that neither ACIC nor police agencies bear responsibility or liability for errors or omissions in the police check result.

    ✔ Nationally coordinated criminal history check process

    This section summarises the stages from applying a police check to receiving the results.

    ✔ Information on the checking body

    The police check also contains the name of the police checking provider and possibly their office details.

    ✔ Check details

    This section contains relevant information like the organisation's reference number, date of check submission, batch ID, result, match date, and release date. It also identifies the type, category, and purpose of the check.

    ✔ Subject information

    This section contains further information like the applicant's name, date of birth, place of birth, gender, and residential address.

    ✔ Disclosable History

    This is part of the police check details on disclosable court outcomes (if any).

    Why do companies verify police checks?

    Companies perform police checks on potential hires to make the best hiring decision. How? Employers can reasonably infer if they are well suited for the current role by having access to an applicant's criminal record. However, the integrity of the check determines the value of this decision.

    Police check verification helps to prevent mix-ups and misdirection. Employers can be certain that applicants are judged fairly on their correct criminal record. With this, employers can reduce hiring risk, prevent fraud, and ensure workplace safety.

    Wrap Up

    ACIC-accredited bodies typically provide a certification verification number that can be used to verify a certificate on their website. What's more, noting specific identification items on the check can be used to infer a certificate’s validity.

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