How far back does a police check look?

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Background checks are not mandatory for most Australian companies, but over the past few years more and more companies are requiring police checks, just to be on the safe side.

Since this is all new for some people in the human resources field, they have a lot of questions about this process. One of the main concerns is how far back does a police check look? In other words, HR departments want to know if the results they’re getting provide an accurate picture of a job applicant’s life.

The whole picture

The first thing recruiting agents need to know about a nationally coordinated criminal history check is that the document they will receive is a collation of police and conviction history information about an individual that has been determined releasable by government agencies.

This means that the police check will look back at the candidate’s entire adult life.

If the job applicant has a clean record, the document will be marked NDCO, which means No Disclosable Court Outcomes. However, if a candidate has committed a less serious crime a long time ago, this will probably not appear on the results. This is because, under Australian law, such lesser crimes are considered spent after a number of years and won’t appear on an individual’s record anymore.

For Australian citizens, a less serious federal crime is considered spent after 10 years, while in the case of juvenile defendants such a charge is deleted from the record after five years. For New Zealand citizens, a conviction is considered spent after 7 years. Convictions for serious crimes stay on the record permanently. Even if the conviction was recorded in some other state or territory like Victoria (VIC), the conviction will still display on the individual police check regardless of the state or territory where the offence occurred.

The easiest way to conduct a background check

Another question some people in the HR field have is how to go about ordering a background check. Many still remember the times when people had to go down to their local police station and ask for a criminal history verification.

These days things go much easier as national police checks can be ordered online using the services of a reputable online Australian agency. These agencies are accredited with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC). An accredited agency has access to the police databases in all Australian states and territories, which means the document issued is 100% valid. Basically, it’s no different from the document obtained at the police station.

Since the agency accesses databases all over the country, the document will discover any sort of crime the job applicant might have committed even in another state.

More and more businesses are using online agencies for background checks as the process is very easy and the results come back in 2-3 business days.

All you need to do is upload the required information on a person, such as name, address, ID and photo. The results are emailed directly to the person in charge in the HR department.  One thing to keep in mind is that human resources personnel must obtain written consent for a police check from the prospective employee.

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