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What does a police check show?

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.


If you have applied for the police check in Australia, you may experience this slight tremor of expectancy that runs through thousands of other applicants like you. While this is normal for one expecting that would play a huge role in their career and prospects, it is not something you will need after a call if you already know what to expect.

The focus lens of a police check result is usually highlighted to the candidate's records with the Australian Courts and their criminal database. The Check result is a standard and valid way for decision-makers, employers and other decision makers to assess how a candidate is "interacting" with the Australian laws. The Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCO) of the candidate correctly captures the conviction or relevant information of the candidate.

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

Below we outline what shows up on a police check or Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check in Australia.

What is a Disclosable Court Outcome?

When your police check result returns with a Disclosable Court Outcome (DCO), it means some convictions can be released about the person. The Disclosable Court Outcomes are the records on a candidate’s criminal history that the State regulation deems releasable.

The Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCO) details are decisions of a court issued by the Magistrate or a Judge. These include;


  • Court Convictions

All records of a court conviction against a person will appear on their criminal history in Australia. It does not matter how severe or minor the offence was or the circumstances around such convictions.

If the candidate served imprisonment, it will appear on the police check, including the imprisonment term's length.


  • Finding of guilt

The Court may find you guilty of an offence but opt against a sentence; this falls under the non-conviction sentencing. All findings of guilt appear on the police check Australia unless the Court rules the record out of the person's criminal history.


  • Pending Charges

If you have a pending criminal charge in Court, it will appear on your police check certificate as a DCO. Usually, the jurisdiction decides whether such records are relevant to the ongoing Check and may include them in the candidate's records.


  • Good Behaviour Bond

Unless your bond period has expired, the details of the Good Behaviour Bond will appear on the police check certificate. It also includes all details that led to the bond and the conditions of the bond.


Some examples of the records on a DCO can include Convictions for;

Does an Overseas conviction appear on my police check?

The police check is a nationally coordinated criminal history check relating to the candidate’s interactions with Australian law. An overseas conviction will not appear on your police check unless the process involves the Australian laws in some ways.

Organisations that want to assess a candidate's overseas conviction must explore other means, usually through the country's liaison or consulate office in Australia.

The fact that a candidate’s record does not appear on the police check does not mean they should get away with their crimes in an overseas country.

What does not show up on my police check in Australia?

Knowing what does not show up on the police check result is helpful for candidates to analyse the details if their check is better. Some applicants are surprised about the consequences of their police check mainly because of records they expected but don't show up.

For example, traffic offences settled by infringement notice or Tickets will not appear on the Police Check as long as it is settled within the given time and did not end up in Court. Only violations that end up in Court with a conviction or sentencing usually appear on the police check.

Some “violations” that will not show up in your police check include;

The Court can issue a diversionary program as an appropriate penalty for an offence rather than convictions or sentencing. In most cases, if the Court considers a sentence too harsh, it will issue diversionary programs in its case.

The Court may order a;

  • Good Behaviour Bond (some will show up on a police check whilst others will not),
  • Community service under a Community correction officer.

  • Inconclusive or Dropped Charges

Not all charges prosecuted in Court reach a definite end or even finish. Sometimes, the prosecutors are unable to provide substantial evidence to prove the guilt. If the Court considers the court proceeding stale and pointless, they can close the case and consider it inconclusive.

However, If the Charges are dropped, it does not necessarily mean the defendant is free; it means the Court has closed that particular case/matter. And there will be no record of the matter on the Australian Criminal Database.


  • Penalties imposed by other societies

Penalties from a professional body cannot cause you to have a record unless the matter is settled in Court. It corroborates that only an Australian Law Court can find you guilty of an offence, not a panel/court by an organisation or society.

It does not matter the pedigree or influence of the group or association in Australia; only the Australian Legal Courts can alter your criminal records.

Does my police check certificate show a “Pass/Fail”?

No, there is nothing like a pass/fail when it comes to police check results in Australia. However, people use these terms commonly to distinguish between a result that has the DCO or not.

You cannot pass or fail a police check until you know how the requesting party will interpret the results. Most decision-makers don't only look at the number of convictions a candidate has; they also consider other factors like;

Furthermore, the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check may not always be the ultimate background check or assessment all decision-makers use. It may be possible to get the role or application if you qualify in other aspects.

What are eligible convictions?

Only certain offences (minor) can be wiped off from the criminal records. Usually, the offences that qualify for the Scheme are those handled in a Magistrate Court that did not attract an imprisonment term more significant than 30 months (this is lesser in some states).

How long does the record on my police check last?

A police check is a point-in-time check. The results last as long as you and the requesting party are fine with it. However, as a person's criminal record is subject to change, most employers request renewals of your police check within respectable periods of time.

For new candidates, most employers or decision makers do not accept police check certificates older than three months from the day of issue. Others may extend this time period to six months, however time periods for the validity of a police check will depend on the decision maker and their risk mitigation policies. For existing employees, most organisations require annual renewals.

What other factor affects the details of my police check result?

There is no physical factor or application means that affect your police check result in Australia. The result from the check is only a reflection of the details of your criminal records.

Only the disclosable records on your criminal records in Australia will appear on the police check certificate.

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 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.

You may include a link on your website pointing to this content for commercial, educational, governmental or personal use.

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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ANCC® enables individuals and approved legal entities to apply for a nationally coordinated criminal history check, which is commonly referred to as a national police check. The nationally coordinated criminal history check is valid all over Australia and can be used when applying for Employment, Probity, Licencing, or Commonwealth check purposes. Get discount police checks online. We beat prices!

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