Media statement: Criminal history checks

To help protect the Australian community, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) works with Australian police agencies to deliver the National Police Checking Service (NPCS). The service allows people to apply for a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check (check, previously known as a police check).

When an applicant submits a check, their details are checked against police information found in a national police database. 

If an application is marked as a potential match, it will be referred to the relevant police agencies for further assessment. If the police determine the applicant’s details match the police information, the application will require further assessment and the police will determine what information can be released in accordance with the coinciding state or territory spent convictions legislation and/or information release policies. Police also use the purpose of the check to further support what information can be released. This assessment process is referred to as ‘vetting’.

Due to NPCS processing requirements, and the manual nature of some matching decisions, check results may contain errors. If an applicant believes that the information contained on their police check is incorrect or does not belong to them, they can lodge a dispute with their employer or an ACIC Accredited Body and the police will review the disclosure decision. This dispute process helps the ACIC to administer our statutory responsibilities on behalf of the Australian community and provides an opportunity for an applicant to validate their check result. 

The NPCS facilitates a 2 staged vetting process; vetting and final vetting. The final vetting agency is responsible for the release of information on the applicant’s check. The final vetting police agency is determined by the state or territory where the applicant has applied to work or volunteer.

All disputes that are raised by applicants are reviewed and corrected where appropriate. Where results are attributed to another person in error (due to common names or identity theft for example), police jurisdictions will take steps to help prevent the issue occurring in the future.

The dispute process is a current requirement under the ACIC’s Access Agreement with Accredited Bodies. 

From 1 July 2024, the process for disputes will be strengthened further to ensure that applicants are provided with the opportunity to dispute the information contained on their police check (if it is incorrect or does not belong to them) directly with the Accredited Body that submitted their check prior to the results being released to an authorised third party. 

All police checks, whether submitted through police agencies or ACIC Accredited Bodies are processed by the ACIC. Both the police and ACIC Accredited Bodies provide an avenue to dispute check results.

Further information about the National Police Checking Service can be found on the ACIC’s website.