4 Times You Need a National Criminal History Check
Don’t be alarmed if you’re asked by an employer or organisation to provide a national criminal history check. Sometimes also called a criminal record check or background check, there are lots of different reasons why a person might be asked to apply for one. In fact, in many industries and organisations, it’s standard practice.
To ease your mind and help you prepare for the day the request comes, here’s all the information you need to know, including what a national criminal history check is, when you’re most likely to need one, and the other types of police check you may need to apply for.
What Is a National Criminal History Check?
A criminal record check is basically what it says on the tin. It is a check of a person’s criminal background that is carried out by the National Police Checking Service (NPCS). It is sometimes referred to simply as a “name check” because the authorities base their search on your full name and similar personal details.
Those that apply for a criminal history check will receive a certificate via email that states one of two things. If, for instance, a person doesn’t have a criminal background, their certificate will show that they have No Disclosable Court Outcomes or NDCOs. If they do, the certificate will state that there are Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCOs) and list them accordingly.
The idea is that, if you have no previous convictions, then you can present an organisation or employer with evidence of police clearance. Among other things, this makes it easier for people with no criminal background to get jobs in certain sectors.
Criminal history checks are very common in Australia, with a lot of organisations making them a condition of employment. Again, this tends to be the case in specific industries, which we’ll look into in more detail shortly.
When Will I Need to Provide a National Criminal History Check?
You can be asked to provide a criminal history check regardless of the industry you want to work in or the job role you’re applying for. Generally speaking, it’s up to the hiring manager at each institution to decide whether or not an applicant needs to provide a national police certificate.
However, for certain positions and job roles, it is far more likely and may even be a requirement. The following four examples are the times you’d most often be asked to provide a national criminal history check. Note that they do not include checks for immigration, visa, and adoption purposes. In these instances, you need to provide a different type of check.
1. Working With Vulnerable People
Applicants for jobs where the individual would have to work closely with vulnerable people should expect to provide a police check before their job application can be progressed. In some cases, police checks may also be required regularly throughout employment. This applies most commonly to the following industries:
- Immigration services.
- Community services.
If you were hoping to work with children, sick or disabled people, older people, or other vulnerable individuals, having a police record could damage your chances. This is because any evidence of criminal wrongdoing on your national police check could flag you as a threat to the safety of the people you work with.
During the application process for a criminal history check, you will be asked to state whether you’ll have contact with any vulnerable groups in the role you’re applying for. If you state that you will have contact with vulnerable people, the NPCS will make sure to include the appropriate convictions on your certificate.
In some states and territories, you might be asked to apply for a Working With Children Check in addition to or instead of a national police check. So, if you want to work with young people and you’re applying for a police check in Victoria, New South Wales, or somewhere else, double-check the requirements.
2. Working With Valuable Assets
Safety is paramount when working with vulnerable people, and the same applies to workplaces that deal with valuable assets. In the sorts of jobs where you’d be responsible for, say, money or sensitive data, then it’s important that your employer determines from the outset whether you can be trusted. This is most likely to apply in the following sectors:
- Financial services.
- Security services.
- Real estate.
Having a criminal history in these industries can be a barrier to employment. However, you should know that there are legal protections in place for people with past convictions who are looking for work. Only in situations where it is considered ‘lawful and reasonable’ can an employer refuse to hire someone based on the results of their police check online.
Say you’re denied a job in a bank because of your criminal record. If the convictions listed were, for example, for fraud or theft, then it would be considered reasonable for a company not to hire you. This is because it would hinder your ability to fulfil the inherent requirements of the role. If, on the other hand, your conviction was a traffic charge, this could constitute discrimination
3. Voluntary Work
It’s not just paid positions that require police screening. In some cases, you will also be asked to provide a police check when applying for volunteer roles. And, generally speaking, the same rules apply here as they do for paid work. So, you are most likely to have to provide a police check when the voluntary work you do involves vulnerable people or valuable assets.
The key difference when it comes to volunteer criminal background checks is the fees attached. While the cost will vary between providers, across the board, volunteer checks should be cheaper than standard employment checks. To ensure you pay the right price, you will be asked to state the check type on your application.
4. Acquiring a Licence
In some industries, you’ll need to acquire the appropriate licences before you can begin work. To fulfil the requirements for some of these licences, it may be necessary for you to provide a police check, too. This is to help uphold the highest possible health and safety measures in key industries.
Keep in mind that different licencing requirements might apply for the different States and Territories across Australia. So, if you need a licence because you want to work as a taxi driver, you might be asked to provide a police check in South Australia if that’s where you’re based, whereas you might not in the Northern Territory.
Can I Refuse to Provide a National Criminal History Check?
Regardless of the purpose, you are completely within your rights to refuse to provide a police check when an employer or potential employer requests one. You are never legally mandated to apply for a police check when asked and the requesting party can never force you to do so.
To safeguard applicants, a police check cannot be carried out on an individual unless they provide consent during the application process. However, in some industries such as the ones outlined above, your refusal to provide consent could reasonably be given as a reason not to hire you.
Other Types of Police Check
A standard police check in Australia will usually be sufficient when you’re applying for a job, but you will need to apply for different types of police checks if you need them for different purposes. These include visa applications and employment in high-security industries. Here’s what you need to know about the other types of checks.
Australian Federal Police Checks
An Australian federal police check or AFP is similar to a national police check in that it is used simply to determine if a person has past convictions on their criminal record. The distinction lies in the purpose. You see, while it’s unlikely you’d be asked to provide an AFP for employment purposes, you would need one for:
- Immigration purposes, including Visa applications.
- Overseas adoption.
- Overseas employment.
- Employment with the Commonwealth government.
To apply for an AFP, you will need to visit the Australian Federal Police website. While national police checks can be carried out through one of several accredited bodies, whether they be volunteer police checks in West Australia or checks for paid employment in Queensland, AFPs will only be valid when acquired through the official AFP website.
Fingerprint checks can only be conducted in person from a local police jurisdiction in Australia. To apply for this type of check, a person is required to get their fingerprints taken and fill in an offline application form. The form and the original copy of the fingerprints must then be sent by post. It is not, therefore, a process that can be completed online.
You will only ever be asked to apply for a fingerprint check when there is a “legal or regulatory requirement for such a check to be conducted.” When that’s the case, you will have to pay an additional charge, supplementary to the cost of a standard police check.
Name Check and ASIO Security Assessment
Just like a standard police check in NSW or other Australian Territory, this type of check takes a person’s details and uses them to search for any former convictions on their criminal record. In addition, an Australian Security Intelligence Organisation assessment will also be carried out.
Specifically for applicants looking to work with companies that are licenced to handle security-sensitive Ammonium Nitrate, they are used to determine whether someone has a history of politically motivated violence.
How to Apply for a National Criminal History Check
Each type of police check should be completed through the appropriate authority or accredited third-party organisation. For an AFP check, fingerprint check, and name check with ASIO assessment, you have to apply directly through the dedicated police authorities. But, with a national criminal history check, you have a lot more options.
Several organisations are certified to process national police checking applications and Crime Check Australia is one of them. When you apply through our easy-to-use online platform, the process only takes around five minutes and, in most cases, you can expect to receive your certificate within just one business day.
To fill in your application form, all you need to do is follow five simple steps:
- Enter your full name, contact details, and some information regarding the purpose of your police check.
- Pay the fees using your Visa, Mastercard, or AMEX credit card on our secure online portal.
- Input additional personal information and five years of address history.
- Upload copies of four forms of ID with a selfie of you holding one identifying document.
- Provide your consent and then submit the application form.
We’ve designed our system to be as user-friendly as possible. If, however, you run into any problems, you can contact us through our online form, email address, or phone.
When Do I Need a National Criminal History Check?
There are four main reasons why you might need a national criminal history check. These include when you’re applying to work with vulnerable people or valuable assets in either a paid or voluntary capacity. You may also need to provide a check to acquire a licence for job roles in certain sectors.
When you’re asked to provide a police check, just be sure that you go for the right one. There are several different types of checks, all of which need to be applied for via the proper channels. However, for a standard check, you can apply quickly and easily on the Crime Check Australia website. Click here to start an application.