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  • What does a police check involve in Australia?

    The Police Check is one of the essential background checks a candidate can apply for in Australia; it goes beyond exposing their criminal records and may reveal the relevance of such roles to the license or position they seek.

    There are many reasons you may need to obtain your Police Check in Australia, especially the fact that numerous Australian agencies and employers now adopt it. You will likely need a Police Check certificate anywhere you are in Australia, whether as;

    • Volunteers, especially for Vulnerable sectors,
    • Paid employments,
    • Licensing and Accreditation for some roles,
    • Registration into certain professional bodies,

    It also includes all job roles and positions and functions that fall under any of these.

    Can I do a Police Check by myself in Australia?

    Yes, those that need the Check apply mainly through approved service providers like Australian National Character Check.

    Although other bodies or persons (e.g. employers) may apply on behalf of the Candidate, they still need their informed consent before commencing such applications.

    What is the Police Checking about?

    When you apply for a Police Check in Australia, you must provide your details through the Informed Consent Forms. The forms collect personal data from the applicant, including;

    • Names,
    • Date of Birth,
    • Address(es), and all previous residences,
    • Mailing addresses,
    • Another necessary document relevant to the Police Check.

    After completing the application, the medium they apply through forward all applications to the National Police Checking Service (NPCS).

    The NPCS compares the applicant' data with the extensive data on the Australian Criminal Database. The Check will run through all the data on the Database quickly compared to a manual checking process.

    If there is a potential match, the Check algorithm will forward the Check details for human confirmation. The officials will then deliver the records to the Local Police jurisdiction and any other jurisdiction where the applicant has resided to confirm the Check through their Police History Information records. Usually, what the Police Checks for is a Person Of Interest (P.O.I); they try to determine if such persons are of significant interest to the Police or have disclosable court outcomes in the Australian legal system.

    After verifying for a P.O.I., the authorities adjust the Check to ensure that only the details that the jurisdiction permits to be displayed are disclosed on their Police Check records. The details released in a candidate's Criminal Record Check result are the disclosable court outcome of the person.

    What do I need to process a Police Check in Australia?

    Applying for the Police Check is a straightforward process in Australia, primarily through accredited online service providers. You need to provide;

    Furthermore, you must know the "purpose" of the Police Check before you apply for it. There is nothing like a "random" Police Check application; every Police Check has its purpose, whether for;

    • Volunteering,
    • Paid employments,
    • Licensing,
    • Accreditation.

    Lastly, the Candidate must provide their informed consent that allows the Accredited Body and the National Police Checking Service (NPCS) to use and interpret their details.

    Applying for a Police Check has become easier with the licensed agencies that allow you to apply and complete a Police Check online.

    What Identity Documents do I need to apply for the Police Check?

    The Police Check requests specific I.D.s that can verify all the information the Candidate fills on their application form. For every information you supply in the Informed Consent Form, there must be an I.D. that backs it up.

    To complete a criminal history check, a candidate needs to provide at least four (4) different examples of all three (3) categories of Identity Document.

    The three categories of I.D. document that every applicant must submit for a Police Check is;

    Commencement of I.D. document (1)

    These include any of the following documents;

    • A Valid Australian Birth Certificate issued by the State accredited registry
    • Valid Australian Passport,
    • Australian Visa from the immigration service
    • Australian Immicard that validates their immigration status in Australia,
    • Certificate of Identity document
    • Document of Identity; must be given by the Foreign affairs and Trade dept to any Australian citizen who has nationality of a commonwealth country for travel purposes
    • Certificate of evidence of resident status
    • Australian Citizenship Certificate

    Primary Use in Community document (1)

    It includes any of the valid and notable IDs under Australian laws like;

    • Valid Australian Driver's Licenses – it can be any of; learner's permit, a provisional license issued by a State
    • Australian Marriage Certificate - An Australian Registry must provide it for Marriages (not religious issued certificates)
    • Valid Australian Passport – with valid entry stamp or Visa
    • Valid Proof of Age of Photo Identity Card
    • Current Shooters or Firearms License
    • Persons under 18 can use a current Student ID with a signature or photo in place of other Primary Use in community documents,

    Secondary Use in Community document (2)

    These are additional and popular documents for all Australian citizens or residents. It includes external receipts and invoices given by agencies, companies and Australian special commissions.

    • Credit card that shows the various sources (when submitting more than one)
    • Document showing evidence of right to an Australian government Grant; Centre link or veteran affairs
    • Proof of enrolment with the Australian Electoral Commission
    • Photo identity card that must be issued by a valid Australian body
    • Maritime Security Identification card
    • Photo ID card; must be issued by an officer by a Police force
    • Australian Secondary Student photo identity document
    • Australian tertiary student photo identity document
    • Credit reference Check
    • Foreign government-issued documents (for example, driver's license, Passports)
    • Certificate of identity issued by a Foreign Affairs and Trade
    • Document of I.D. issued by the foreign affairs and trade
    • A travel document for conventions; secondary (United Nations) issued by foreign Affairs and Trade
    • Trusted referees reports
    • Australian Trade Association cards
    • State/Territory's government rates assessment notice

    What information is released in a Police Check certificate?

    The details you find in a Police Check result are the Disclosable Court Outcomes under the State laws. All other violations that are "Spent" or committed under specific programs of the State scheme are the Non-Disclosable Court Outcomes of the Candidate's criminal records. If an applicant has no criminal history at all, it will also show up as a “No disclosable court outcomes” on the criminal history check.

    The Disclosable Court Outcomes of the person will release the following details that are on their criminal records;

    • Court Convictions

    All convictions issued by a court enter your criminal records on the Australian criminal Database. Unless your sentence is committed for other diversionary or Conditional Release programs, it will always appear on a Police Check certificate in Australia.

    • Sexually related assault

    While some convictions are "spent" and removed from a criminal record, an offence of sexual assault/violation will always appear on your Police Check. The certificate will also disclose the kind of punishment that the court orders.

    • Traffic-related offences

    Infringements or tickets settle not all traffic offences. If the Police charges you before a Magistrate, and you receive a conviction, it will remain on your Criminal history and Police Check records. Offences like Drug driving, Driving under the influence or manslaughter from traffic violations all enter the person’s criminal history.

    • Finance related offences

    Offences of fraud, misappropriation, theft, robbery and other finance-related crimes are always shown on the Police Check. These types of violations will hardly qualify for any legal pardons under the State laws.

    • Assault Charges

    Anyone charged with violating a person’s right in public, including participating in any action that would have or did cause them injury, is guilty of an assault charge. All serious or aggravated charges of assault in Australia will remain on the Candidate's criminal history in Australia.

    • Pending charges

    The Court can include your ongoing charges in your Police Check record, especially related to the role. Also, if the pending charge is of community risk or potential danger, the Court will record it in their criminal records.

    • Arrest Warrant for a Criminal Offence

    A pending warrant for a criminal offence, may appear on the Candidate's Police Check. Immediately after the police execute a warrant for an arrest due to a criminal offence; it automatically enters the offender's criminal record.

    • All other unspent convictions

    All your unspent convictions will appear on the Police Check, regardless of how old the conviction is. However, Spent convictions are permanently removed from your criminal records and national criminal history.

    • Good Behaviour Bonds

    If the Court commits your sentence for a Good Behaviour Bond, the details remain on your criminal records for the Bond duration. Only the Court can issue a G.B.B. depending on the peculiarities of the offence.

    What details do not show up in my Police Check?

    Convictions or criminal records outside the Australian jurisdiction or legal courts will not enter your criminal records in Australia. Other items that do not enter a person's criminal record or police check include;

    • Diversionary programs

    Depending on certain factors, the Court may decide against sentencing you or ordering other punishments. Instead, the Court will commit you to some diversionary programs or conditional release orders.

    • No findings of guilt

    It means where the Court does not find you guilty of the charge; the case is dismissed, and the issue closes without any damage to your criminal records.

    • Police cautions

    The Police can issue on-the-spot warnings or Cautions for less severe offences. The Police usually considers that the offence is less severe to bring before a Magistrate.

    • Infringement notice

    Some minor violations in Australia are settled with infringements, tickets or other on-the-spot settlements. While these may show in Police, Traffic or related records, it does not appear on the Candidate's criminal records.

    • Restriction/court orders

    If the Court issues an order restraining a person from an area or another person, they must obey the conditions and details of such order. During or at the end of the order period, it will not show up in their criminal records.

    However, a breach of the order may lead to a court conviction and Court summons.

    • Convictions given by agencies other than an Australian court

    Any conviction by a religious, cultural or social group outside of the Australian Court or laws does not form part of the Candidate's criminal records in Australia.

    • Spent Convictions

    The Spent Convictions Scheme is one of the schemes that help offenders recover from the negative "stigma" of their records. Under this scheme, certain convictions are removed from the Candidate's criminal history records.

    A conviction will only be Spent once the Candidate has satisfied a period of good behaviour without getting another conviction or a violation that will compromise the scheme. Also called the;

    • Crime-free period,
    • Waiting period,
    • Qualification period,
    • Eligibility period,
    • The period can vary depending on the States or Jurisdiction in Australia.

    The Crime free period for offences generally are;

    • Ten years of "crime-free period"; for a conviction by an adult court.
    • Five years of "crime-free period"; for a conviction by a juvenile court (three in NSW).

    It must also follow that;

    • ✔ The individual does not get another conviction within this period, or else the period restarts
    • ✔ The term of imprisonment imposed is not more than 30 months (Should be 30 months or less).
    • ✔ The conviction does not lead to a further court hearing.

    How long does a Police Check take to process in Australia?

    The application medium or method can influence the speed or efficiency of a Police Check application in Australia. For example, applying for the Police Check online tends to be quicker and more convenient than applying for a Police Check through any other physical or manual medium.

    Australian National Character Check delivers Police Check results to applicants within 24 to 48 hours of their application unless their check gets referred for manual processing. However, applying through a Police or the post office may require physical visits and paper-based applications, and it can take up to 10 to 15 business days.

    Can my Police Check application get delayed?

    Yes, some errors or inefficiencies in your application may cause delays in the process. Also, if your application is for any reason flagged for a "manual review", your Police Check application may be delayed for an additional 5 to 10 business days.

    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 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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