Why Australian Police Check Results May Get Delayed
Around 70% of all police checks in Australia come back within one or two business days. In some cases, results will be delivered in just a few minutes. For the 30% of police check submissions that take longer, why is this?
There are several reasons why a national police check may take longer than expected. Now that police checks are so common, especially by employers, more people than ever are submitting applications. For the vast majority, police checks are received quickly.
Here’s everything that you need to know about why your national police check might have been delayed.
Why Are Police Checks Delayed?
When you apply for a police check, the National Police Checking System (NCPS) will scan through all of the police records on file. It will be looking for information that matches what you have provided on your application. The system is automated, and results are often very fast.
In some cases, the NCPS isn’t capable of delivering results automatically. This is more likely if an application is complex. When that happens, the application will be flagged. It will then need to be reviewed manually. A member of the police force will go through your application to determine any decisions.
Manual processing will mean that applications for a national police certificate will be delayed. Getting results will likely take longer than the usual 1-2 business days.
The Most Common Reasons for Police Check Delays
When an application is flagged for manual review, the causes can vary. Some will mean quick resolutions, even with a manual check. Some will take longer, and may cause very lengthy delays. Here are the most common reasons for police check certificate delays.
If any details on an application share similarities with other records on the police database, then it will likely be flagged for manual review. Common names, dates of birth, or even old addresses that match someone with a criminal record are some of the most frequent reasons for a police check in Australia to be delayed.
If you have similar details as someone with a criminal record then it will take longer to confirm who you are.
The NCPS is updated very regularly. Despite this, there is still the chance for older, outdated information to still be stored on police records. If you make an application for a police check and it reveals that there is an issue with updating, manual checks will need to be conducted.
Incorrect Police Records
This is one of the least common reasons for a police check in Australia to be delayed. In rare cases, there may be an issue with the wrong information being stored by police. If there is information on your files that is wrong, or incomplete then an investigation will need to be carried out.
Although rare, this delay can mean the longest wait. Most police check delays mean a waiting time of up to 15 business days. Incorrect police records can mean much longer waits. The more complex the issue, the longer the manual review will take.
The NCPS is designed so that it’s accessible by all Australian police forces and any Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) accredited providers like Crime Check Australia. This means that the police and those providers can more easily carry out police checks.
That means information has to be kept up to date at all times and by all police agencies. For reasons that may be out of their control, one police force may experience a delay in either updating or transferring information. If that happens, then police check results will tend to take longer.
During busy periods, police may not have the resources to conduct manual police check reviews quickly. The results of a police check in Australia are incredibly important to get right. There are strict guidelines regarding when info can be released, and busy teams can slow down applications. During particularly busy periods, manual reviews can take a month or (in some cases) even longer.
It’s important to remember that if your police check application is delayed, it doesn’t mean that you have a criminal history that can be released. It’s likely that a delayed check will be investigated and will then result in a ‘no disclosable outcomes’.
What Does it Mean When a Police Check is Referred?
Referred simply means that an application is one of the 30% flagged for a manual review. The application will be passed to the relevant police agencies where it will be checked by police officers. The state’s police force will then determine the facts of the application.
The most common reason for police checks to be referred for manual review is due to the applicant sharing a name with someone who has a criminal history. For example, someone called John Smith is more likely to experience a delayed police check result. In those cases, police will need to check the identity of the applicant. They need to ensure that they are not the same person on their records.
If the applicant has a name that is not in common use, then the risk of there being any kind of duplicate identity is slim. However, if any information on the application is matched to any existing information then it will be more likely to be referred.
The reason why referrals are so important is that the consequences of issuing a police check with the wrong details on it can be extremely serious. It could mean that someone is employed in a role that they should be barred from, such as working with vulnerable groups. Accuracy is vital. Manual reviews can be frustrating but they are necessary.
Should I expect a delay on my Police Check if I have a Criminal record?
Even if a police check shows that the applicant has a criminal history, it doesn’t always mean that the national police certificate will be delayed. However, that criminal history may delay getting the results of a police check for a range of reasons.
When Applicants Have a Criminal Record
If you submit an application for a police check and you are expecting that the results will show previous offences, you can still expect a fast response. In some cases, results can be delayed depending on the type of criminal offence and the details of your records. The following can cause police check delays if you have a criminal history:
- A varied criminal history that includes different legislations, any possible legal technicalities, spent convictions, and the jurisdictions of different police forces.
- Where and when the offence occurred (different states and territories have their unique legislations that can cause delays in assessing whether offences should be disclosed).
- The purpose of the police check can also be a reason why the results of a police check are delayed. This is more common if the reason for the police check is due to pre-employment screening and the employment being sought is more sensitive.
Is it possible to prevent a police check delay?
Once an application has been submitted for a police check, the process immediately passes to the police force. Whether you are applying in-person at a police station with all of your documents or you’re using a police checking service like Crime Check Australia, delays will be out of your (and our) control.
However, you can reduce the likelihood of a police check delay. Some rules need to be abided by to make an application. Those rules need to be adhered to. If you want to reduce the chances of a delay, you need to provide all of the documentation and proof of ID requested.
Before you submit your application, double-check all of your documents. Those documents need to be valid to prove your identity. Even a small mistake like a document being slightly out of date will cause a delay.
If you’re applying for a police check using Crime Check Australia, make sure you have provided all of the information that is asked for, and that the information is 100% correct and up to date. If all of your info and documentation is correct then the chances of your police check being delayed will be greatly reduced.
Can I Speed up a Manual Police Check Review?
If an application for a police check is delayed and needs to be reviewed manually then there’s usually nothing you can do to speed up the process. The police will never release the results of a police check until they are confident that everything is legitimate and the essential information has been collected and approved.
There are rare instances where a police check can be accelerated. This doesn’t happen very often, but there is precedent if you need your police check for any of the following:
- You have in-demand specialist skills
- There is an emergency or a disaster where your skills are needed
- Medical reasons
- Political reasons
- Cases where the well-being of a child is a consideration (such as emergency child placement or adoption)
Does Crime Check Australia Have Any Influence over Police Checks?
Like any ACIC accredited agency, we go over all applications and make certain they are compliant with the police check regulations. Once we are satisfied that the application is complete, we then forward the application to the police. This is usually done on the day of the application.
In most cases, police checks will come back within hours, but there can be a delay of 1-2 business days depending on how many applications the police are processing at the time. The application will then be in the hands of the relevant police agencies and is out of our control. No accredited agencies will be able to affect the speed of the process.
Providing the Wrong Information
Some people will make a police check application and knowingly provide false or potentially misleading information. When you submit a police check application, you are asked to provide very specific personal information. If it is discovered that the applicant has provided false information for any reason, the consequences are more than just a delayed police check.
False, misleading information, or even information that you have deliberately omitted, means that an offence has been committed. According to the Criminal Code Act 1995, it’s likely that you will face prosecution.
Disputing National Police Check Results
If an application has been flagged for manual review, it may come back to the applicant with information that they didn’t expect to see. In instances where you think that the information on your police check is wrong, then you can dispute it.
Your first step will be to contact Crime Check Australia. You can do this easily using our contact page. You can phone, email, or post your details, or use our contact form. Once we have received your information, we will then need to discuss the details of your dispute. The more information that you can provide, the more assistance we can give you in settling your dispute.
From there, Crime Check Australia will then contact the relevant authorities (such as the ACIC or the Ministry of Justice) to begin an investigation. We will then keep you updated on your claim and notify you whenever a decision has been made by the relevant authority.
In the vast majority of cases, police check results are fast. It can take minutes or one business day for most applications. Delays on police checks occur with around 30% of applications. How long it takes to pass a manual review will largely depend on the circumstances and the reasons why it was flagged.
You can reduce the chances of your criminal history check being chosen for manual review by double-checking all of the information on your submission. Check that all of your documents are valid and that all of the fields on the application have been filled out correctly (and that the spelling is correct).
This dramatically improves your chances of getting your police check certificate quickly.