Do Police Checks Expire?
A Nationally Police Check is requested for many purposes by people from all over Australia. It involves a criminal background check on an individual to disclose police information on a national police certificate. This is also referred to as police clearance. The question is often asked – do Police Checks expire?
As there are several occasions where a police check certificate is necessary, you might wonder if a police check ever expires. Here is everything you need to know about the validity of a police check, when to update it and who might request one.
How Long Is A Police Check Valid For?
There is no standard period of time that a police check remains valid for. The check does not include an expiry date, and only includes the date that the report was issued.
A Criminal History Check is considered a ‘point in time’ check. The information contained in the document is only accurate up to the date and time of issue. A police check does not expire officially, but the information may become outdated as time goes on, or miss out new information contained on an individual’s police record, if an offence took place after the certificate was produced.
The purpose behind the police check is relevant to determine how valid the document is. Organisations who request the check must decide themselves if the date on a police check is acceptable. They must also determine a timeframe in which they require an updated National Police Check. This is usually part of company policy and their own risk assessments as to what they will and won’t accept, and when it needs to be renewed.
What Does Point In Time Mean?
A National Police Check is classed as a ‘point in time’ check. A point in time check means that the information is only in date as of that moment. If a person commits an offence the day after receiving their police check certificate, this latest offence will not be included in the information. For this reason, police checks should be renewed regularly depending on the reason they are being used.
What Does A Police Check Result Look Like?
The National Police Checking Service generates a report containing the individual’s check results. An example copy of the document can be found on the website of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.
Some reports may include branding from whichever accredited service provider the applicant used, but the police information and check results must remain the same as they are found on police databases.
The document will state the following information:
- The date that the check was issued
- An outline of the police check process
- Details of the applicant (name, birth date, birth place etc.)
- The outcome of the results, either NDCO (No Disclosable Court Outcomes) or DCO (Disclosable Court Outcomes) and the details of the offence
Is A Police Check Valid For Multiple Jobs?
An Australian police check cannot be used for multiple jobs. As every police check requires the reason for requesting the document, the results can differ. Police authorities need complete disclosure of the reason behind a police check, so that they are able to assess the individual correctly, and apply the correct legislation. The fact that the check is job specific or purpose specific, means it is not suitable for reusing for different jobs.
Different legislation and information release policies apply to different occupations. Usually for child-related work, all prior convictions and charges will be released in the police check results. Alternatively, a check request submitted for an office worker would not require the same disclosure of certain past offences.
It is important to note, that in the time that a person works for one particular company, they could have received a charge on their record since their last police check when moving to a new company. Companies should always request a fresh police check to ensure the applicant’s police history is up to date and any new offences are recorded and acknowledged appropriately.
Jobs Within The Same Company
In Australia, national police clearance is part of the screening procedure for employees joining a company or organisation. On many occasions, an existing employee might seek to change roles within the company, whether for a promotion, a career change or to gain new skills.
In this case, the employee, although having already provided police clearance when they first joined the company, may need to obtain a new national police certificate. Despite the company remaining the same, a different role brings different risks. It’s important that current employees are vetted before switching roles.
It is possible that since beginning their job with the company, new information has been added to their criminal record. A new check will reveal any recent offences which could affect their suitability for the different role.
Is A Police Check Valid For Multiple Purposes?
A police check in Australia is not valid for multiple purposes. Each case should be individually assessed to ensure the right protocol is applied. A police check is only accurate up to the date it is received. As with employment screening, the same applies to any other purpose a police check is used for. A background check for the purpose of obtaining licences and registrations, voluntary work, immigration purposes, visa applications and adoption purposes each require a unique police check to assess the individual for the correct reasons. This not only assures the security of others, but ensures that you, the applicant, is assessed fairly.
How Do Employers Determine If A Check Is Valid?
In most cases, employers will have their own measures in place for risk assessments when it comes to hiring new staff, and their own protocol to adhere to. Most will require recent police clearance to rule out any possibility of missed offences being released in the document.
When applying for a job, you can always ask the employer for clarification on whether they are willing to accept a police certificate you already have.
Ongoing Employee Screening
In some industries, ongoing employee screening is in place. For example, in the aged care sector, a renewed police check is required typically every three years. This keeps information up to date, and again acts as a preventative measure for putting others in the community at risk.
If a person is employed and is currently involved with the police for whatever reason, they should communicate the situation with their employer if it could have an impact on their career.
Do Criminal Records Expire?
In Australia, criminal records do not expire. An individual’s record will never be erased completely, however, for some convictions, there is a time frame for how long an offence must be disclosed for. All states and territories in Australia have legislation which limits the disclosure or certain information after a certain amount of time. This is known as the spent convictions scheme or spent convictions legislation.
The period of time after an offence is known as the ‘waiting period’. This is the time after an offence occurred in which the individual does not commit any further offences. In Australia, this tends to be 10 years for crimes committed as an adult, and 5 years for crimes committed as a minor. After the waiting period, the conviction becomes ‘spent’. The conviction still exists, but it will not be disclosed on a national police certificate, unless under certain circumstances where the information is mandatory for safety reasons. A spent conviction will be spent automatically.
I Need A New Police Check. How Do I Get One?
The process for a National Police Check is the same no matter how many times you apply for one, or which service you use to apply.
A police check can be obtained from the Australian Federal Police, an Australian police station or through an agency accredited by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. Worker Checks Pty Ltd is an ACIC accredited provider of police checks.
The application can be done manually with paperwork or you can apply for a police check online. Each time you fill out a police check application, you will need to give the reason for your request.
Please note, applications should be submitted as and when needed with a designated provider. They should not be submitted to multiple NPC providers in the hope of retrieving a different result. All accredited bodies access the same system to view police records, and will retrieve the same information in equal time.
Does A Police Check Ever Expire?
In short, a police check does not expire, but it should not be relied upon for a long period of time. Much can change for any individual over time, and it is vital that new police history is recorded accurately.
It is important that organisations request recent police checks from individual’s to ensure accuracy and validity, to continue to support the security that a National Police Check provides.