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Home Resources & Technical Articles Pre-Employment Screening Topics Police Checks What does manual processing mean for a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?

What does manual processing mean for a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?

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.


Police check certificates have become something of a prerequisite document for most roles, license, accreditations, or employment opportunities in Australia.

If you are the purpose you need them for are considered "sensitive positions'' it becomes all the more mandatory.

Gratefully, when you apply online, the application process for a police check is convenient and faster. Agencies such as the Australian National Character Check (ANCC) return completed Check certificates to applicants in a timely manner and the process can be completed online.

The online application methods via such agencies are by many considered to be the fastest and most convenient means possible for applicants to get their police check certificate.

After an application is submitted, it goes through a compliance check by ANCC’s verification team. If the application is filled out in compliance with government and police agency requirements, it gets forwarded through a secure server for a result. Whilst most applicants receive their check result within hours of completion, some applications may get referred for “manual processing”. This process occurs after an applicant's criminal history check application is submitted to the central government database for a result.

Below, we outline what it means when an application gets referred for manual processing.

What happens when my police check is delayed longer than three business days?

Roughly about 25% of the total applications for a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check usually take longer than three business days to obtain a result. The plausible explanation in most cases is that such an application is flagged by Australian police agencies for “manual processing”.

What is Manual Processing?

If an application is flagged for "manual processing", an official from a state or territory police agency must manually supervise the checking.

When you submit your details for the nationally coordinated criminal history checking process, the computer algorithms at a central government database compares your information to data on the criminal database. Where the computer experiences complexities in the search, it will flag such an application. After flagging such an application, a human at an Australian police agency must “complete” and vet the check process.

However, only a little fraction of applications are flagged for manual review - around 25% or so. Most applications pass through the checking process without hiccups.

If an application is flagged for manual review, it does not imply that the applicant will/has to fail their Criminal History checking.

What can make an application be flagged for manual review?

Lots of reasons can make the check algorithm flag your application. Since a computer system initially completes all checks, it may be difficult to tell apart complexities. Some of these complexities could be;

  • Common names or Shared names
  • Incomplete details in an application
  • Complicated addresses or frequent changes of addresses
  • If you have recently been to court
  • Prospective match with a disclosable court outcome
  • Previous traffic fines or charges
  • Other inconclusive data

As the computer system in the central government database will not make inconclusive results, it will simply flag these applications for “human/manual review”.

1. Where there is a potential Criminal record

The computer system will flag your application for a manual review in the presence of a Disclosable Court Outcome if;

  • Some complexities based on legal or jurisdiction standing may affect the period for preparing your Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check
  • More Checking may be required from the various Police database in the different State and Territory (Where applicants have lived in numerous States)
  • Verifying if an offence is disclosable, and to what degree should it be disclosable.

2. Where there is no Criminal History record

A National Criminal History record may also be flagged even when there is no disclosable court outcome (DCO) for the applicant. However, the reasons are quite different and more obvious than when there is a DCO. Some of the reasons are;

  • Common/Shared data, like Name; having common names like Williams, Douglas, Anita for example might lead to a “prospective match” in the search algorithm.
  • If you have also changed addresses frequently within a short period, it could also draw attention to your application.
  • If an applicant has lived in more than one State, their application will be "Checked" in those States. The more frequently you change States, the more time is required to complete your Check.
  • Previous unresolved infringements on traffic offences (or other databases) can lead to your application being flagged in the Criminal Traffic Police Background Checking Service for verification.

What happens to my application after flagging for “manual review”?

Although a time consuming action, there is nothing the requesting agency or any other person can do to influence this process. Flagged police check applications may be delayed for up to 15 business days.

Applicants can mitigate the risks associated with flagged applications by requesting their check well in advance of when they are needed.

How can you tell which application will be flagged for manual review?

No agency or official can tell beforehand which application may be flagged for manual review. It is a random and unexpected occurrence. Hence, no agency can influence the period when such applications will be completed.

However, we advise that all applicants remain patient if their application gets flagged for manual review.

How does an applicant prevent further delays in reviewing?

When filling the application either online or in-person for a police check certificate, always input the correct details. Crosscheck all the details you have filled in before submitting your application. ANCC’s compliance team will send a request for further information (RFI) if an application does not meet government requirements.

Also if you have lived in multiple States and Territories, you must provide enough details on all addresses, aliases, names (changes of names), and so on.

Applicants should ensure that the details and identification documents they submit for verification match the details they submit. For example, all identification documents should match your legal name, or alternatively you should provide an acceptable change of name certificate issued by the registry of births, deaths and marriages.

What is the best method to apply for a police check?

There are several methods for applicants to apply for a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check in Australia. All these methods will provide applicants with a valid, legal document at the end of the check. Although no method is “better” than another, applying online provides tends to be the easiest and fastest method of obtaining your Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check certificate.

When you apply via our online portal, you can complete all applications and payments within 12 minutes. Applicants can do it all via a PC, mobile device or Tablet as long as they have an internet connection.

After applications, the applicant will receive an electronic copy of their check mostly within 24 to 48 hours, with the option of paying for a hard copy.

Why police checks are important

It helps organisations make important recruitment decisions: Employers must protect the assets, life and resources entrusted in their care.

It helps individuals: Only those who have a police check can factually know their convictions at the Criminal records. It includes knowledge about charges, and other DCOs.

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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.

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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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