The role of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s (ACIC) National Police Checking Service (NPCS) is to manage the system that Australian Police Agencies and Accredited Organisations use to submit National Police History Checks. It is important to know the ACIC does not directly receive application forms or submit police checks on behalf of individuals.
To enquire about a National Police History Check (commonly referred to as a police check) application that has been submitted, please contact the Accredited Organisation or Police Agency that submitted the original police check request. This information can be found on the receipt that was issued upon payment.
As an individual, you may need to get a police check, for:
- pre-employment screening
- volunteer work
- occupational related licensing purposes
- immigration/citizenship purposes
- visa applications
- adoption applications.
Frequently asked questions
Who can lodge a police check?
An Accredited Organisation that has undergone training administered by the NPCS can request a police check on behalf of an individual. If an individual is wanting to organise their own police check, they will need to go through an Australian Police Agency or an NPCS Accredited Organisation.
Is there a list of accredited organisations?
List of Accredited Organisations - March 2017
List of Accredited Broker Organisations - December 2016
Is there a list of police agencies?
- Australian Federal Police
- New South Wales Police
- Victoria Police
- Queensland Police
- South Australia Police
- Western Australia Police Service
- Northern Territory Police
- Tasmania Police
What is the process to get a police check?
1. An individual seeking a police check will submit their check details and complete an application form (or online submission), which includes a provision for the 'informed consent' of the applicant for the purpose of the check. Application forms are available from Accredited Organisations or Police Agencies.
2. The Accredited Organisation or Police Agency will lodge the application form and satisfy the applicant’s identity by using the 100 points of identification.
3. Providing 'informed consent' means an individual understands and agrees to their personal being submitted for the police check, including the disclosure of police history information relevant to the individual.
4. The individual's details are submitted to the National Police Checking Service (NPCS) for processing.
What happens once a police check is submitted?
The personal information of an individual is checked against a central index of names to determine if a potential match exists and upon confirmation of a match, whether there is any police history information that can be released to the organisation who requested the police check.
What is the NPCS process?
The result of a police check will be released to the Accredited Organisation or Police Agency that lodged the check with the NPCS. The result released will either be:
- No disclosable court outcomes: This result indicates there is either no police history information held against the individual detailed on the form, or no information that can be released with respect to the category and purpose of the check.
- Disclosable court outcomes: This result indicates there is police history information that can be released and will be listed on the police check result.
The Accredited Organisation or Police Agency that lodged the police check should provide the result to the individual whose history was checked.
If the check was submitted via an:
- Australian Police Agency — a National Police Certificate (NPC) will be issued to the individual or organisation that requested the check.
- Accredited Organisation — they will receive the result through a check results report.
How long should a check take to process?
The NPCS aims to process 95 per cent of police checks in 10 business days, noting that:
- Around 70 per cent of police checks are completed in real–time and the results are returned to the organisation that requested the check within minutes.
- Around 30 per cent of police checks are referred to one or more police agency due to similarities in the name of an individual. Sometimes this process takes longer than 10 business days due to the complexity of the check.
The NPCS team recommends Accredited Organisations and individuals permit as much time as possible for the completion of a check. To ensure the police check is processed quickly, please complete the required forms in detail and provide as much accurate personal information as possible.
Why is a police check referred to the police?
When a police check is submitted to the NPCS, biographic details such as an individual's name and date of birth are checked against a central names index using a matching algorithm. This is to determine if there is a match to any person of interest who may have police history information.
A potential match may be found by the system using the name matching algorithm if an individual shares similar details with other individuals recorded in police systems, particularly if the individual has a common name. The relevant Police Agency that receives the potential match will then manually process the police check to determine if the details are a match or not. If it is a match, the police will make a decision to determine what information is allowed to be released. If it is not a match, the result will be returned with 'no disclosable court outcomes'.
How will an individual know when a police check result is ready?
The Accredited Organisation or Police Agency that requested the police check on behalf of an individual should notify them once the results have been received. If the check result is not received, the individual should contact the organisation that requested the police check.
What information will be in my check result?
No disclosable court outcomes
If an individual has no police history information, or none that can be released due to the category and purpose of the check, the result will show ‘no disclosable court outcomes’.
Disclosable court outcomes
If there is police history information that can be released, the result will show ‘disclosable court outcomes’. The disclosable police history information will be listed on the National Police Certificate (NPC) or check results report and may include:
- court convictions, including penalties and sentences
- findings of guilt with no conviction
- court appearances
- good behaviour bonds or other court orders
- matters awaiting court hearing
- traffic offences.
The type of police history information that is released depends on the purpose and category of the police check and any relevant spent conviction legislation or information release policies by which Police Agencies are bound.
Who sees an individual's information on a police check result?
The following organisations may have access to an individual's information in a police check result:
- authorised police staff who determine if the name is in fact a correct match by accessing criminal history record systems, as part of the vetting process
- authorised ACIC staff who may need to access the police check request or results as part of providing the National Police Checking Service (NPCS) to Accredited Organisations and Police Agencies
- authorised staff of the Accredited Organisation or Police Agency that requests the police check and receives the result from the NPCS
- a third party organisation, either with an individual's explicit informed consent or through relevant legislation.
How can an individual ask questions about a police check result?
Any questions about the status of a police check should be directed to the Accredited Organisation or Police Agency that lodged the initial police check. If they are unable to provide an answer, the query may be passed on to the NPCS Customer Support team by the organisation for further clarification.
How can an individual dispute the results of a police check?
If an individual believes the police check result issued is incorrect, they can:
- Contact the Accredited Organisation or police agency that submitted the original police check and provide reasons or evidence for disputing the result. Individuals should provide as much information as possible, including documents that support their claim.
- The Accredited Organisation that requested the police check may discuss the police check result with the individual to assist them with completing a dispute form on their behalf.
- When the investigation of the police check result is complete, the police will advise the NPCS Customer Support team of the outcome. The NPCS Customer Support team will then inform the Accredited Organisation of the outcome, enabling them to discuss the results with the individual.
To read a detailed description of the dispute process, click on the link below.
The dispute process
How long is a police check result valid?
There is no standard time frame that a check is valid — a police check is a 'point in time' check, meaning the results only reflect police records on the date that the check is released. The organisation that requires the check will typically determine the acceptable length of time and this can vary.
Can a check result be used to apply for other jobs?
No. Police checks undertaken through Accredited Organisations or Police Agencies are for the specific purpose identified in the police check request. Any police history information released is based on the purpose and category of the check for which it is lodged.
A Police Agency will issue a National Police Certificate (on secure paper) and a Broker will often issue a certificate. While applicants may choose to use these certificates on numerous occasions, the purpose and category can impact the amount of information released and therefore it is not recommended.
For example, a police check conducted for the purpose of becoming a volunteer netball coach cannot be used later to apply for a job as an administration officer. The purpose of the check impacts the amount of information that is released, as there may be different legislation or information release policies that apply. Additionally, a police check is a 'point in time' check, meaning the results only reflect police records on the date that the check is released.
Can an individual receive a copy of the police check result?
Yes, in certain circumstances. In the first instance, contact the Accredited Organisation or Police Agency who submitted the police check to discuss this. The result cannot be used to apply for other positions and is valid for the purpose and category for which the police check was initially issued.
What is a working with children and/or vulnerable people check?
All Australian states and territories have legislated schemes for screening people who will be engaged in jobs or activities that involve working with children and/or vulnerable people. Find links to these state and territory schemes.
How is a police check submitted for individuals under 18?
If an individual is seeking a police check and is under 18 years of age, an application form including the informed consent form must be signed by a parent, guardian or legal representative before the police check can be processed.
Police Agencies in each state will also need to consider rules to determine what information can be released about juveniles, such as spent conviction legislation and information release policies.
Can a police check be submitted without consent?
An individual must provide informed consent for an Accredited Organisation or Police Agency to request a police check on their behalf.
Under certain, limited circumstances, police can use the NPCS without consent for law enforcement purposes and the administration of justice. An example is to determine eligibility for jury duty.
If an individual believes a national police history check has been completed without their informed consent, please visit our Privacy page for more information.
How is a complaint lodged?
Should you wish to lodge a complaint about the NPCS, in the first instance, please contact the Accredited Organisation or Police Agency who lodged the police check on your behalf.
If you are unhappy with the response received, please contact the NPCS Customer Support team using the contact details on our contact page.
In the event that you would like to escalate your complaint further, you can do so through the Commonwealth Ombudsman.