Please be ready with your application reference number starting with 'P'. For example P1234567
One of the best things about applying for a Police Check online is that in most cases, a result comes out within 24 hours or so. It is helpful for most applicants, as sometimes, they have to submit their certificate as soon as possible.
However, even online Police Check applications get delayed. And This is not the service provider/bureau's fault; it just means that it would be hard to get the results in the expected time due to other factors that are involved in the checking process to strengthen the safety of our Australian community.
If your Police Check application is taking long, then there are a lot of potential causes for that. However, the commonest of these is that the application was marked for a manual review.
However, not all delays are caused by a manual review. Your application can be delayed if the central government agency or State or Territory Australian police agencies are making some verifications on your criminal records. For example, the checking agency may verify the previous area where a person resides to verify some outstanding records on the Police Check.
Furthermore, your application will also be delayed if you have complex criminal records. Having records in multiple States or Territories (crossing over various legislations) can be time consuming for the checking agency. Therefore, they will apply to the Criminal Database and the Police departments of each of these States or Territories to confirm;
Also, apart from these, there are some other reasons why a nationally coordinated criminal history check application will be delayed. But these listed here are the most typical reasons applicants may wait extra days before getting their certificates.
All Police Check applications, including forms, verification IDs, and other personal details, are compiled and submitted to a central Australian government agency. At the central government agency, they compare the applicant's record with those on the Australian criminal database.
Before sending your details to the central government agency, the approved service provider (for example, Australian National Character Check or a Post Office) will review your application to confirm that you submitted the correct documents and your application is compliant with the government’s requirements.
The applicant must also affirm their consent to having their information shared with the National Police Checking Service and Australian police agencies.
The Comparison is completed by a computer check algorithm supervised by various officials. The algorithm achieves a check by comparing the applicant's details with the details on the Australian Criminal Database and other relevant records.
If there is a match in the details;
It is not uncommon (around 30% of total applications), that the computer algorithm becomes "stuck" while processing some applications. It does not necessarily mean the applicant has a conviction record or has a failed Police Check; it just requires an official to supervise the check manually.
When an official has to supervise or work on a criminal history check manually, it is known as manual processing. After the manual supervision is complete, the application will continue with the regular procedure until the agency issues the certificate to the applicant.
The manual processing does not affect the Police Check certificate in any way; it will only push forward the time of issuance. When an application undergoes manual processing, it will generally (but not always) take an extra 5 to 15 days (sometimes more) for the applicant to get their Police Check.
When manual processing is ongoing, we know that a Police Checking process is underway. There are lots of reasons that can cause an application to need manual supervision. However, the common reasons are;
It is possible that an applicant will share data with another on the criminal database. The algorithm can be "confused" by the common data and find a potential match between two records. Where there is such an irregular "match", the computer will signal manual processing.
For example, John Bradley Citizen, date of birth: 20 February 1998 will undergo manual processing if Bradley Jonathon Citizens, date of birth: 14 June 1998 has a criminal record. In this example, manual processing is necessary since both individuals have a similar name and a similar date of birth. The check algorithm may even get a potential match if there is other matching data like similar or shared addresses or a similar previous name like an alias.
Clearing such complications can be challenging for the official supervising the check depending on factors like;
Where the applicant has a conviction record, the next issue is deciding where those records fall. All convictions in a criminal record are considered either;
Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCO), or
No Disclosable court outcome (NDCO).
Whether an offence (if any) is disclosed or not depends on the State or Territory’s legislation regarding spent convictions. It is only the DCOs that appear on the Police Check certificate.
Determining whether a record is Disclosable or not can lead to delays, especially where the applicant has a conviction record under various State or Territory laws.
The period a conviction happens can delay the Police Checking process. The older a sentence is, the more difficult it may be to retrieve such records for proper checking.
It is visibly difficult to extract old convictions from the various State’s criminal databases across Australia. Even after extraction, the agency will have to verify whether such offences qualify for the Spent Convictions Scheme in Australia.
Some old Police records may need to be vetted and concluded manually. These records may be in hard copies and can only be reviewed by an official manually.
Approved service providers carefully check all applications for compliance, however small details in the check may in some cases go unnoticed. If the computer check algorithm at the central government agency cannot process an application due to inconsistencies, an official may have to process such checks manually.
Some periods have a sudden surge in the number of people applying for a Police Check. In a surge of applications, the National Checking Service may not complete the Police Check in regular time.
The matching algorithm can also get "confused", linking the various convictions and States where the applicant has lived. Having multiple past addresses can also cause a problem when transferring the conviction records among the various legislations in the State.
No, the delays in a Police Check application are as irregular as they are spontaneous. These things can happen to anybody and at any time, though they are relatively scarce.
The delay you experience from the Police Check process has nothing to do with the service provider or agency. Approved services providers make the process smoother by keeping applicants up to date and using modern technology to enable applicants to submit their checks online. Approved services providers aim to provide criminal history check results in a timely manner to applicants, as we understand that such requests are generally urgent.
The process for completing a check in the central government agency is through a computer algorithm. It ensures that the process is more accurate and faster than a completely manual process. The process can be broken into steps explained below for every potential applicant.
The approved service provider submits all details and personal information collected from the applicant to the central government agency’s system.
It is advised that applicants always apply for a criminal history check at least a month before they need it. The National Check agency processes tens of thousands of checks (including renewals) each day. They can get overwhelmed, especially if the offences are complex.
There is little anyone can do for a delayed Police Check application. However, applicants that apply via Australian National Character Check (ANCC) can get real-time updates on the status of their Police Check via the track a check option on the ANCC website.
Also, if your Police Check is delayed, communicate the issue to the requesting party (your employer). If they prefer, you can offer them proof through the “Track a check” option (only if you apply with ANCC).
For the majority of applicants that apply online, their national criminal history check results are routinely available within 24 to 48 hours. And this is the case for over 70% of people.
Applicants whose applications are not completed within this period may have some complex factors in their application. The other 30% of applicants may have to wait up to 15 business days or more in some circumstances.
Community safety is at the forefront for police checks. The Police checking process is an independent function of the National Checking service. No external force or party can influence the Police Check process.
While it is frustrating to have your application delayed, it is regrettable that nothing can speed it up. However, applicants can continue to track and monitor their applications.
Before you submit your application form, check through the details and identification documents and make sure that your information is correct and up to date. Your name as displayed on all identification documents for the police check must match your legal name that is listed on the application form.
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.
The content on this website is communicated to you on behalf of Australian National Character Check™ (ANCC®) pursuant to Part VB of the Copyright Act 1968 (the Act).
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.