Police Check FAQs

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Everything you need to know about police checks

What is an Australian national police check?

An Australian national police check is a document summarising an individual’s disclosable court outcomes in Australia (if any). This information is sourced from the databases of all Australian police jurisdictions. An Australian police check may also be referred to as:
– Police check
– Police history check
– Police clearance check
– Police criminal check
– Police record check
– Criminal history check
An Australian national police check is not the same as an Australian Federal Police (AFP) check.

What information is disclosed in an Australian police check?

An Australian national police check is a ‘point in time’ check, meaning results reflect police records at the date and time the result is released. Information disclosed includes:
– Court convictions
– Findings of guilt with no conviction – this means that even if no conviction was recorded for an offence, it will appear on a police check
– Good behaviour bonds or other court orders
– Charges
– Matters awaiting a court hearing
– Driving offences where the candidate has been found guilty by a court – note that otherwise traffic offences are not criminal offences and will not be disclosed in a national police check.

What information is not disclosed in a national police check?

  • Traffic offences are not criminal offences and are not disclosed unless the individual has been found guilty by a court
  • An Australian national police check does not contain information about spent convictions

What is a spent conviction?

The Australian Commonwealth Spent Convictions Scheme means that certain criminal convictions are not disclosed after a period of good behavior. The Scheme applies to convictions for less serious Commonwealth, State, Territory and Foreign offences, and also covers pardons and quashed convictions. A conviction for a State or Territory offence may also be covered by a spent conviction scheme in the relevant state or territory. Importantly, any unauthorised disclosure and use of this information is also prohibited. Generally speaking, a spent finding is:

  • A criminal offence older than five years, if convicted as a child
  • An offence older than ten years in any other case

The above waiting periods are intended to demonstrate that the individual has been of good behaviour and has not re-offended during the five year or ten year period.

The Commonwealth Spent Convictions Scheme generally does not apply to more serious convictions, where the individual has been sentenced to imprisonment for more than 30 months.

What does ‘NDCO’ mean?

NDCO stands for ‘no disclosable court outcomes’.

This result indicates that there is no police history information held against the individual, or no information that may be released (for example, information regarding spent convictions).

What does ‘DCO’ mean?

DCO stands for ‘disclosable court outcomes’.

Specifically, the record of court convictions and findings of guilt, subject to the application of relevant spent conviction legislation.

Is a national police check different to an Australian Federal Police check?

An Australian Federal Police check is primarily used for Visa, immigration and citizenship purposes. It is used for applicants who live outside of Australia, and also overseas adoption purposes. In addition, if you are employed in Australian Commonwealth facilities or work in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Jervis Bay Territory or external Commonwealth territories, an Australian Federal Police check is needed.

For all other purposes an Australian national police check is acceptable throughout Australia. In most cases employers seek a national police check for volunteer and employment purposes.

How does WorkPro administer an Australian police check?

WorkPro is an organisation accredited by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) as a third party national police check partner.

Accredited in 2012, WorkPro is highly experienced in managing background checks across a broad range of industries.

WorkPro offers a simple, secure process, available on any device, and the ability to return results within minutes! Here is how our process works:

Step 1: Candidate request

A registered WorkPro customer sends an electronic request from the WorkPro platform to complete the Australian national police check application.

Step 2: Application process

The candidate receives the email request and completes the application online, providing relevant personal information, supporting identity documentation and consent.

Step 3: Identity and consent

Prior to 1 July 2018, police checks required an applicant to provide what was previously known as 100 points of identification. Today, following the implementation of the National Identity Security Strategy, a national police check now incorporates the requirement for an applicant to provide four forms of  identification against strict categories and provide express informed consent. Identity document categories are as follows:

  • One commencement of identity document
  • One primary use in the community document
  • Two secondary use in the community documents

Whilst a commencement document may be relatively easy for an Australian Citizen to provide, for non-Australian citizens, it may be more difficult to meet the criteria for this category.

  • Australian citizens may supply a current Australian birth certificate or passport.
  • Non-Australian citizens need to provide an alternative Commencement of Identity document such as an ImmiCard, certificate of identity issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs, certificate of evidence of residency status, or Australian visa document.

It may be necessary for non-Australian citizens to provide their work rights visa. To do this, applicants can utilise WorkPro’s integrated Department of Home Affairs VEVO database to complete a work rights check, instantly able to upload the result as their commencement of identity document. WorkPro is one of only a handful of companies integrated with the VEVO database, meaning the work rights check can be completed without the need to leave the WorkPro platform!

Step 4: Vetting and submission

Once the applicant provides evidence of their identity and informed consent, a WorkPro customer is expected to review the application,  compare, confirm and accept the authenticity of the identity documents, and submit the application via a secure on-line portal.

In keeping with our commitment to privacy, security and robust compliance, WorkPro additionally reviews every application and identity document to confirm the application and documentation is accurate, correct and the identity is compared for authenticity. Once confirmed, the application is submitted to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s (ACIC) National Police Checking Service Support System database. Here, a database search uses the applicant’s name, sex and date of birth to seek matches against persons of interest (POI) known to police.

Step 5: The outcome

NDCO

If no potential matches are found, an instant result or initial clear is returned, known as a ‘NDCO’ (no disclosable court outcome). This means there is no police history information recorded for the individual’s details as submitted and the result is returned to WorkPro’s secure portal. The customer is alerted via email that the result is finalised.

Referred and matching for persons of interest

An initial check may return as ‘referred’ when a potential match against a person of interest (POI) is returned. In this case, the check is referred to the police agency where the relevant information is held, and the agency determines whether the applicant is the same person as the POI – this is known as ‘matching’.

In some circumstances, the police agency may need additional information to assist with making a matching decision. If this is the case, the agency will raise a request for further information, generally in the form of additional personal details, such as previous addresses, photo ID or asking an applicant attend a police station to submit a fingerprint sample.

If the police agency determines that the applicant is not a match with the person of interest, the referral result is NDCO.

Confirmed match and vetting of disclosable information

If the police agency determines that the applicant is a match with the person of interest, the check moves into the vetting stage. Here, relevant legislation and information release policies are applied to determine the type and amount of information about the candidate that can be released. The check then goes into the final vetting stage.

The police agency in the state or territory in which the accredited organisation (that is, WorkPro) has its registered business reviews vetted results and applies its own legislation and policies to determine what information may be released to the accredited organisation.

DCO

This information is returned as a ‘DCO’ (disclosable court outcome) result. This means there is police history information recorded for the individual’s details as submitted. Specifically, a record of court convictions and findings of guilt, subject to the application of relevant spent conviction legislation in the relevant jurisdiction.

Step 6: Delivery of results

At the end of the process, a National Police Certificate (NPC) is issued, outlining the results of the check:

  • NDCO No police information held against the applicant or no information that can be released according to the purpose and category of the police check
  • DCO Police information is available that can be released

What documentation do candidates need to supply?

To comply with National Identity Security Strategy and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) requirements, WorkPro’s online system enables applicants to provide the following documents in order to successfully complete an Australian national police check:

  • One ‘commencement of identity’ document, for example a valid Australian passport
  • One ‘primary use in the community’ document, for example a valid Australian driver’s licence
  • Two ‘secondary use in the community’ documents, for example an Australian Medicare card
  • A linkage of identity photo, that is, a photo including both the applicant and the relevant document
  • A signed informed consent document (electronic or physical signature)

A list of the documents can be reviewed here.

At least one of the documents must include a photo of the applicant. In addition, the documents must show the same name as the claim, or evidence of a change of name is also required.

The following are not acceptable:

  • Expired documents
  • The same document twice

How long does an Australian police check take?

Using WorkPro, 85 per cent of checks are returned within 20 minutes of submitting the national police check! However, in some cases a final outcome may take up to 15 business days.

Why do some national police checks take additional time to process?

There are many reasons as to why some police checks may take longer than others to process, including:

  • The individual has a common name, or a name that matches with many potential persons of interest
  • Transferring information between various state and territory police agencies before the information can be vetted and/or released
  • The relevant police agency has inaccurate or incomplete records which need to be investigated before the check can be finalised
  • Old police history associated with a possible match requires manual collection and processing of hardcopy records
  • Workloads within each police agency

How long is an Australian police check result valid?

Records are kept for 90 days within WorkPro, the certificate is then permanently destroyed and the record automatically archived in line with the Privacy Act. The information is accessible for twelve months, after which time the record is permanently destroyed as per the requirements of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

Is there a minimum candidate age requirement for an Australian national police check?

Yes. A candidate must be at least 16 in order for a police check to be completed. In addition, anyone under the age of 18 must have the informed consent of a parent, guardian or legal representative.

Can an Australian police check be conducted without the applicant’s consent?

No. The candidate must provide signed and informed consent in order for a national police check to be completed. By doing so, they are consenting to the specific purpose of a police check. If another national police check is required for a different purpose, they must consent again.

Consent can be provided in the form of a digital signature, and is collected as a part of WorkPro’s application process.

Will the applicant receive a copy of their result?

Yes. The applicant will receive a copy of their National Police Certificate.

In addition, it is an Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission requirement that the applicant is automatically and immediately advised if there is a disclosable court outcome, and provided with clear instructions on how to dispute the outcome if it contains an error. The WorkPro platform automatically ensures this requirement is addressed.

Are online police checks secure?

Given the personal and sensitive nature of the information being collected as part of a police check, concerns may arise regarding the security of systems and processes.

To help protect the Australian community, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) works with Australian police agencies and accredited bodies to deliver the Australian National Police Checking Service. WorkPro is proud to be an ACIC accredited business.

WorkPro connects to ACIC’s database and our software is secured in line with ACIC’s stringent security and audit terms. In addition, we regularly undertake internal and external testing to ensure our software remains in line with ACIC and Australian Government legislated requirements.

WorkPro’s system manages the security, archiving and destruction of information in accordance with national Privacy Standards and ACIC’s terms of service. Not only does this create a safe system for applicants, it reduces the administrative burden for businesses.

What is an ACIC accredited organisation?

An Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) accredited organisation is an organisation that ACIC have assessed and approved to administer the police checking service on behalf of individuals and customers. ACIC accredited organisations are entrusted with direct access to the National Police Checking Service Support System (NSS) to submit applications and retrieve police check results for consenting applicants.

Accredited organisations include Australian federal, state and local government agencies, private sector businesses, not-for-profit organisations and screening units for working with children or vulnerable people.

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