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Home Blog Why are old convictions showing up on my police check?

Why are old convictions showing up on my police check?

As national criminal history check results have become an important document all around Australia in assessing an individual's suitability for a role, many have become worried about offences that are disclosed on their checks.

While some people believe that it is impossible to know for sure which convictions are released in a criminal check document, others believe that all results will repeat convictions older than 10 years. However, both of these are false.

There are several reasons why an older conviction may show up in your police check. Below we outline some of the main reasons for this:

  1. The Police Check has Child/Vulnerable people rules applied;
  2. The Australian/Commonwealth laws have legislation in place for paid workers, volunteers, and other services that require direct interaction with children and vulnerable groups.

    Where an individual applies for a role in any of these “sensitive” sectors, the Australian government mandates in many instances the applicant to provide a police check (for child/vulnerable services purposes) in addition to a Working With Children or Vulnerable people check in some Australian states and territories.

    In some instances and for particular job roles, a police check may not be mandatory in the legislation however companies and organisations will mandate them as part of their recruitment policies to reduce risk to vulnerable populations that their workers come in contact with during the course of their work.

    Some of the roles that fall in this category include and are not limited to;

    • Teachers
    • Volunteer workers and caregivers
    • School bus drivers or other public vehicle drivers (e.g. drivers for taxi cab services, uber drivers, shuttle bus drivers or hire car drivers)
    • Nanny / caregiver
    • Child doctors, and other health services
    • Aged care workers who seek a check for the purpose of aged care work
    • Other child and vulnerable people workers
  3. Applicant repeats such offences;
  4. Even when an offence is recorded against an applicant, and whether or not it was ever removed from their records, the offence will generally still show up if the applicant repeats the offence.

    Offences in a police record don’t have a limit for when they will be recorded against an individual. The offences will be recorded as many times as the individual commits the offence. A police check document shows all convictions of the individual and their pending charges.

  5. The police authority considers it useful to the purpose
  6. When issuing criminal record checks results, the police authority employs all legislation of the State / Territory and those regarding the spent convictions scheme. Where the offence is lawful to be disclosed, the authority will list details of that offence in a check result.

    Also, where there is manual vetting for a national criminal history check, and the offence is considered adequate for the records to be released (e.g. previous serious driving offences showing on a police check application for a public vehicle driver), it will show up in the applicant’s national police check results. This is because even though the offence may have been committed a long time ago, the police agency that is vetting the check may still deem the offence to be related to the purpose of the check (the proposed job role stated on the criminal history check) and therefore release the offence to aid decision makers in making a sound hiring decision that is in the interests of community safety.

  7. Where the offences are not automatically spent
  8. In most cases (States/Territories) in Australia, when individuals apply for a criminal record check, all offences that qualify for the Spent Convictions scheme are removed from the applicant's records. However, this is not so for police checks in Western Australia (WA).

    In WA, applicants must apply separately to the WA police force to have any of their offences that qualify to be Spent to be removed from their national criminal history records.

    Where the offence is not automatically Spent, and the applicant does not apply for it, the records will be disclosed in the person's police criminal records. It should also be noted that there are certain offences that will never be considered under the “spent convictions scheme” policies and the offences will therefore always show up on a person's police check result. Further information on this is given below.

What are Spent convictions and offences?

It may be deemed unfair or sad to hold down an applicant for years (even sentenced) for "minor" convictions. For this reason, in most States/Territories they have legislations on the disclosure of the results on a national police check that allows some of "these offences" to be removed from an applicant's records. These offences are called Spent Convictions.

However, not all convictions may qualify under the Spent Convictions Scheme/Act in Australia. Only offences where some conditions are satisfied as required or stipulated by the court.

Convictions that are covered under the scheme are;

When is an offence considered as Spent?

The scheme proposes various ways by which an offence may be “spent”. Some of them include;

  1. The individual is granted a pardon for a reason other than that of a "wrongful conviction".
  2. The individual was not sentenced to prison for more than 30 months (commonwealth)
  3. Period of "good behaviour" or waiting period has ended without another conviction

Generally, the conditions or requirements that make an offence qualify for the Spent Convictions Scheme are;

The popular convictions for these offences are;

It also follows that;

Offences that are never considered to be “Spent”

Yet, some offences are never considered “Spent”. These offences are too “serious”, and will be revealed in the Police Check results no matter how old. Some of these offences are;

What Convictions are disclosed in a Police Check?

National police checks help employers, decision makers and their organizations to determine suitable candidates for the job. It contains a comprehensive and clear record of all an individual's releasable Disclosable court outcomes (DCOs), including pending charges, court orders and other offences not classified as spent charges.

The contents of the result do not change irrespective of how/where you applied for the document. Some examples of the convictions released in a national criminal history check are;

Can I contest the result of my check?

Yes, if you think the check contains a disclosable court outcome that does not belong to you or should not be present on the check, you have the right to dispute a check result. Disputing a check result does not necessarily mean your result will be amended, however it will be reviewed by the relevant police agencies and an outcome on your dispute will be issued. The outcome of a result dispute may result in any of the following:

  1. Result will remain the same and will not be amended; OR
  2. Further information will be requested from police agencies; OR
  3. Result will be amended and a new certificate will be issued.

To dispute a check result, contact the ANCC support team and you will be guided on the process.