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  • What is in a Police Check?

    The Police Check is a method of assessing a candidate's criminal records and legal dealings in Australia. The certificate issued after the application form is completed contains the list of all their Disclosable Court Outcomes per the jurisdiction laws of the State or Territory.

    The Police Check has become a standard means of evaluating a candidate's legal status concerning the role they seek. Most employers or decision makers now require a valid and current Police Check certificate as part of their application process.

    What will I find in a Police Check?

    The Police Check certificate contains all a person’s Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCO) per the State or Territory’s release legislation (Spent Convictions legislation). It includes all the convictions given by an Australian Court and recorded in their criminal records on the Australian Criminal Database.

    At the end of the Checking, the Police Check certificate will be returned with a DCO or NDCO.

    Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCO)

    The offences that show in your Police Check are known as DCOs. Generally, your DCO includes unspent convictions and other convictions committed under special sentences. The DCO will reveal details such as;

    What does not show in a Police Check?

    The Police Check only reveals convictions given by an Australian Court. Therefore, you cannot find;

    The Police Check will only cover criminal records that fall within the scope of Australia or issued by an Australian Court.

    Details that will not appear on a Police Check include;

    • Diversionary programs,
    • No findings of guilt,
    • Police cautions,
    • Infringement notice,
    • Restriction/court orders,
    • Convictions given by agencies other than an Australian court,
    • Overseas convictions,
    • Spent Convictions.

    What are Spent Convictions?

    The Spent convictions scheme is a nationwide programme where “eligible” convictions are wiped out of an offender’s record. However, the offender must satisfy certain conditions under the scheme and other conditions the Magistrate issued during the sentence.

    Furthermore, not all offences can be classified as “Spent” under the scheme. An offence that can be spent includes;

    • The offence did not incur imprisonment term of or more than 30 months,
    • The offender has settled all other conditions the Magistrate issues about the sentence,
    • The offender must not get another conviction during the rehabilitation period unless it restarts.

    Good Behaviour Period for spent convictions

    During the Good Behaviour period, the applicant must not re-offend or get a conviction. It is usually referred to as a crime-free period in other jurisdictions.

    The Good Behaviour Period is;

    • Five years for convictions in a juvenile court or if convicted as a juvenile. It is a three year period in the state of NSW.
    • Ten years for convictions in an adult court or if convicted as an adult.

    What are the benefits of the Spent Convictions Scheme?

    Offences "Spent" are automatically removed from an offender's criminal history at the expiration of the crime-free period. This is the most significant benefit of having your offence spent.

    Also, when your offences are spent, you no longer have to disclose or reveal them to anyone/employer even if they request them. You can refuse to reveal such a record under oath; the "Right of non-disclosure" is under the scheme.

    Employers cannot assess a person based on their Spent convictions unless it is of critical importance to the role or position that they apply for.

    The Spent convictions will no longer appear on your Police Check unless you get another sentence for the same offence.

    How long does the Spent conviction last?

    If your offences are Spent, they will never show up in your Police Check. The effects of having your conviction Spent is for life.

    Applying for the Police Check in Australia

    There are various ways to apply for a Police Check in Australia.

    • Online application

    The Online application requires just a PC, Tablet or mobile device connected to the internet. It takes about 15 minutes to complete the entire application form, including soft copies of the ID verification documents for a criminal history check.

    Candidates who apply online through accredited agencies like ANCC will receive their Police Check within 24 to 48 hours unless the check gets referred for manual processing.

    • Applying through a local police force

    Applicants can also apply through the Police authority.

    This method may be paper-based, and the applicant may need to present physical copies of the ID for certification.

    • Applying through the Local Post office

    The Post office can serve as a medium between applicants and the national check agency in processing a Police Check.

    How long does a Police Check application take?

    Police Check application completed online usually takes between 24 to 48 working hours before candidates get the soft copies of their certificate. However, applications can take as long as 15+ business days if the check gets referred for manual processing.

    Your Police Check application should generally get to you within the specified period unless it gets delayed. Over 70% of all applications are completed and returned to the applicants within the specified periods.

    However, 30% of all applications may be delayed due to specific procedures regarding the Checking.

    What can delay my Police Check application?

    There are various reasons why your Police Check application can get delayed in Australia. However frustrating it may be, there is nothing any agency or official can do about your applications taking longer.

    A Police Check application can be delayed if;

    The application is transferred to multiple jurisdictions

    If the applicant lists various addresses on their application, the National Checking Service may transfer the application to the relevant Police jurisdiction. It helps to confirm if the candidate has a record in any of their past State or Territory of residence.

    Error in the application or applicant’s details

    The Police Checking is generally completed by a check algorithm that automatically compares the candidate’s record with the data on the Australian Criminal Database. If the system detects an error in an application, it will stop the Checking until an official can manually supervise it.

    The official may also request the applicant to submit extra details/IDs relating to their initial application.

    Manual processing

    If the check algorithm can get stuck on an application, an official may have to supervise the process manually. This process is known as manual processing, and it usually slows down the application process.

    Manual processing can delay the application by an additional 5 to 15 days.

    There are many causes for an application may be flagged for a manual review, it includes;

    • Shared or Common data

    If the applicant shares specific details on the criminal database, the system may opt against making a decision. It will alert an official to supervise the process before proceeding with the Check.

    A Shared common name is not the fault of the applicant or the agency.

    • Complicated addresses

    The system may discontinue the process if it cannot make sense of the address or jurisdiction details. The NPCS needs all the addresses to make the proper references in the various States or Territory records.

    Having complex address details or frequent address changes may delay your Police Check application.

    • Inconclusive data

    The system will discontinue a checking process if there is inconclusive or incomplete data on the Police Check application.

    Applicants must complete all fields and requests on their Police Check application form before submitting the final application.

    When does a Police Check expire?

    Considering how vital a Police Check is in Australia, it is no surprise why people wonder how long the Police Check lasts.

    The Police Check is a point-in-time check; it is only current up to the date of issue. Candidates have to update/renew their Police Check certificate to include their recent conviction details and history. And this is why most employers and organisations generally do not accept Police Checks older than three months.

    The Police Check does not expire in the ordinary sense; it just becomes "obsolete" to the requester after a certain period. Employers may also request their staff to submit updated Police Checks at respectable intervals depending on their internal risk mitigation strategy.

    Where do you need a Police Check?

    Most organisations and agencies adopt the Criminal History Check as a standard check to determine a candidate's suitability for the role. Also, the legislation makes the Police Check a mandatory requirement if you are applying to specific sensitive sectors in Australia that are regulated.

    You also need a Police Check when applying to the following roles;

    • Working in vulnerable sectors or persons,
    • Working in Aged care,
    • Working as an educator, a teacher, or other child related roles,
    • Healthcare services and employment,
    • Licenses for firearms, weapons or related positions,
    • Probity Checks,
    • Work with the disabled,
    • Working as a security official,
    • Finance related roles.

    How can I obtain a police 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 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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