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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Pre-Employment Screening Topics National Police Checks Difference between national police check and AFP police check

    Difference between national police check and AFP police check

    Getting your police check in Australia is not as hard as it once was. With a mobile, PC, Tablet device, you can apply for, and receive your check result within as little as 24 hours (70% of instances) when you apply through services like Australian National Character Check. The remaining may take up to 15 business days.

    However, there are some misconceptions some people make about national police checks and their purposes.

    Whilst a national police check or nationally coordinated criminal history check (NCCHC) is predominately suitable for employment, volunteering, licensing and accreditation purposes, an AFP Police Check is predominantly suitable for Immigation, Visa, Commonwealth employment, overseas employment & overseas adoption purposes.

    Some people may also think the results issued by an approved online service provider are inferior to those issued by the Australian Federal Police. That is not correct.

    Below we outline the main purposes for why people will need a national police check and why others will require an AFP police check.

    What is a Police Check?

    All national criminal history checks are issued by a central government checking system (and in the case of a potential match, they may sometimes be manually vetted by state or territory police forces) irrespective of the state/territories/agencies that you apply through. A police check in Australia contains details of all convictions, pending charges, finding of guilt given by a legal Australian court.

    Information contained in police checks in Australia is sourced from a single, national criminal database.

    Therefore, in general circumstances and depending on the purpose of the check, it does not matter whether you get it by applying through the AFP or accredited service providers like ANCC.

    There are however specific purposes in which a check should only be obtained via the AFP. Those purposes are shown below.

    What do you need either of the police checks for?

    Police checks are a standard requirement to ascertain suitability for a role. It is even mandatory for some roles like in aged care.

    Here are some of the general purposes for which you need a police check from either the AFP or via an accredited service provider like Australian National Character Check (ANCC).

    Check purposes for obtaining from the Australian Federal Police (AFP)

      ✔ Overseas employment purposes

      ✔ Immigration and visa purposes

      ✔ Commonwealth employment purposes

      ✔ Firearms licenses and co

      ✔ Other approved purposes as stipulated on the AFP website.

    Check purposes for obtaining from services like Australian National Character Check (ANCC)

      ✔ Employment and General Recruitment purposes

      ✔ Volunteering and Educational placement purposes

      ✔ Accreditation purposes (CPV Drivers, teachers, and co)

      ✔ Contract purposes (Real Estate, Freelancing)

    Do organisations have preferences for the Police Checks they accept?

    Generally no, however there are exceptions. Since all criminal history check results are sourced from the same central government database, organisations are not interested in where the check comes from (as far as it is valid and from an accredited source).

    However, for some reasons or affiliations, some agencies may favour a source in their requirement due to the required purpose of the police check.

    For example, immigration, visa-related, overseas employment, employment with Commonwealth agencies, overseas adoption or some licensing agencies may request you to submit a Police Check result that is issued by the Australian Federal Police (AFP). This is because accredited online service providers do not provide checks for the above purposes. The above purposes are only within the jurisdiction of the AFP or in some cases, state and territory police forces.

    Where should I get my Police Check from if it’s requested?

    If you are requested to submit a criminal background check result for the purpose of employment, volunteering or various accreditations, then you can apply online through the online process of Australian National Character Check or other online service providers.

    This method is not only easy for tightly scheduled workers and related, but most applicants get their results within 24 hours unless their check gets referred for manual processing by the central government database due to a potential match. In the case of a check being referred for manual processing, the result may take up to 15 business days to process.

    With an internet-connected device, you can complete your application in less than 12 minutes. The upgraded online payment options even make the whole process easier and faster than ever.

    To obtain a check for employment, volunteering, accreditation and other similar purposes, you can apply via the portal of the ANCC.

    However, if it is requested, or preferred, that you submit a check from the AFP or a state or territory police force; please contact the local police office directly.

    It should be noted that Australian National Character Check (ANCC) is not affiliated with the AFP or a state or territory police force. Applicants that wish to apply for a national criminal history check via the AFP or a state or territory police force must do so directly through their websites.

    What specific offences are shown on each check?

    Police checks in Australia carry individual previous and pending convictions recorded in Australia. Checks that are obtained via accredited service providers like ANCC are used for the purposes of employment, volunteering and some accreditation purposes and the convictions on those checks are released in accordance with Australia’s spent convictions legislation.

    For checks that are issued by the AFP for the purposes of Immigration, Visa and some other purposes, the checks are not limited to the spent convictions scheme and thereby as a Department of Home Affairs requirement, those checks disclose all convictions of an individual including older convictions that would otherwise be considered spent convictions in a standard criminal history check.

    What convictions are generally shown in both checks?

    Some of the convictions that will show up in a national criminal record check either given by an accredited service provider or the AFP are;

    • All Sentences and Convictions
    • Pending court charges and offences
    • Other offences not under the Spent convictions scheme
    • Convictions/Charges against corporate organizations
    • Sexually related offences
    • Traffic offences for which an individual is convicted in a court

    The State where you apply and the purpose for a criminal check determines the convictions that are released. However, spent convictions will not be disclosed in a background check; these convictions are either considered "lesser offences" or the offender has satisfied prescribed conditions.

    The popular convictions for these offences are;

    • Ten (10) consecutive years of the waiting period has elapsed since the person was convicted of the crime (in an adult court).
    • Five (5) consecutive years of the waiting period has elapsed since the person was convicted of the crime (in a youth court/as a juvenile). Three (3) years in the New South Wales

    It also follows that;

    • The individual must not be convicted of any punishable offence during this waiting period, or the period restarts
    • If a jail term is imposed, the crime-free period begins after the jail term
    • Convictions stipulated by the court to be considered as Spent if the individual meets Special conditions (community works, therapy, self-quarantine, and co.)

    Where is my criminal history check result valid?

    A national criminal history check that is issued by the AFP or Australian National Character Check are both national checks and are valid Australia wide in the following Australian states and territories:

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