Understanding Criminal History Checks

When applying for a new role, it is common practice for your potential employer to request to perform a criminal history check on you. If you’ve not completed one before, it can be an overwhelming task. Here, we’ve put together some notes to help you better understand what a National Police Checks is and why it’s important that they are conducted.

What is a National Police Check?

A National Police Checks search involves identifying and releasing any relevant Australian Federal Police (AFP) information subject to relevant spent convictions, non-disclosure legislation and information release policies. Each of these criminal history checks can only be undertaken with the informed consent of the person being checked.
The process involves: 
  • searching a central index containing the names of persons of interest to police
  • possible match(es) referred to the relevant police services for evaluation of their records; and
  • issuing a National Police Certificate

What does a criminal history check include?

A criminal history check either indicates that no records are held or contains information obtained from police agencies that can be disclosed. A criminal history check provides a summary of a person’s police history information in Australia and usually includes:
  • court appearances
  • findings of guilt with no conviction
  • good behaviour bonds or other court orders
  • charges
  • matters awaiting a court hearing

What does a criminal history check not include?

Criminal history checks do not contain information about spent convictions. A spent conviction is a criminal conviction that has been removed from a person’s criminal record because it has lapsed after a period. Whether a conviction is spent will vary on state and federal legislation, but generally a spent finding is a criminal offence older than 5 years if convicted as a child, or an offence older than 10 years in any other case.