What is a National Criminal History Check?
A national criminal history check is a point in time name based check of an individual’s criminal history record. The process involves CrimTrac searching against a central index of names of persons of interest to police services to identify a potential match. Where a potential match is identified the name is referred for evaluation to the respective state or territory police service holding the record. The relevant police service(s) then releases the criminal history information obtained to CrimTrac for onward transmission to CCER. Criminal history information is released subject to relevant Commonwealth / State / Territory spent convictions / non-disclosure legislation and / or information release policies.
Why are Police checks available?
Police checks are increasingly sought by employers as a prudent pre-employment or pre-engagement check and are regarded as an important tool as part of a risk management regime. They are undertaken principally to ensure that persons in positions of trust, specified fields of endeavour and / or required to meet legislative requirements are adequately screened for criminal records.
How do I verify identity?
Before requesting a police check you must ask applicants to verify their identity. This must include original documents adding to a minimum of 100 points as required by the 100 point check under the Financial Transaction Reports Act 1988. A list of acceptable identification documents is provided by CCER. If an applicant is unable to provide documents to meet the identification requirements due to their personal circumstances or special needs, contact CCER for assistance.
What about applicant consent?
A police check cannot be completed without an applicant’s consent. You must always request an applicant’s consent, whether they are new to your organisation or you already employ them and it is a renewal check. Applicants provide their consent by completing the National Criminal History Check Application Form.
How long does a police check take?
Approximately 75% of all police checks will be returned within 24 hours where there is no potential match; the remaining 25% that result in a potential match will be referred for further processing. These checks can take up to 10 business days. The police check result will provide all ‘disclosable court outcomes’ recorded under an applicant’s name and any other aliases provided from police records in all Australian states and territories. ‘Disclosable court outcomes’ include all findings of guilt (with or without conviction) released in accordance with state and federal legislation.
What are the limitations on disclosure?
A range of commonwealth, state and territory legislation governs the disclosure and sharing of criminal history information. In most jurisdictions, spent convictions legislation and legislation prohibiting identification of juvenile offenders limit disclosure of criminal history information. Spent conviction schemes usually apply to certain convictions only, mostly offences with short custodial sentences or lesser penalties. The schemes exclude people sentenced for more serious crimes or for long periods of imprisonment. Exclusions from spent conviction schemes apply for certain types of roles such as for those working with children or vulnerable persons (partial exclusion).
What happens when a result reveals criminal history information?
Where results from a police check reveal any ‘disclosable court outcomes’ recorded under an applicant’s name a risk assessment will need to be conducted. This process involves:
Employers need to be mindful that discrimination in employment on the ground of criminal record can be a basis for a complaint of discrimination under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 and may also be unlawful under some state and territory anti-discrimination laws. When conducting a risk assessment it is important for employers to consider the inherent requirements of a position and assess whether the criminal record(s) are relevant to the essential tasks, circumstances and requirements of the job. CCER is able to assist with this process.
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