Commonly referred to as an Australia Federal Police (AFP) check, the national police check compares the applicant’s details against a central database of police history information to determine if there’s any information that may need to be disclosed.
To ensure that your business isn’t vulnerable to various risk factors, conducting an AFP police check as part of pre-employment screening should be a regular feature of your recruitment process.
So what does an AFP police check entail, and how can it help you ensure that you’re making a well-informed hiring decision?
What Is an AFP Police Check?
An AFP police check involves identifying and releasing any relevant information held by the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
An AFP police check can be conducted for various reasons, including but not limited to:
- job recruitment;
- hiring volunteers for not-for-profit organisations;
- where an employee works with children or vulnerable groups;
- legislation-mandated work-related checks; and
- Australian permanent residence or citizenship applications
In each instance, an AFP police check can only be undertaken with the informed consent of the person being checked.
The AFP police check process involves:
- searching a central index containing the names and date of births of persons of interest to police;
- to see if the details of the candidate in question match with police history information; and
- issuing a National Police Certificate detailing the relevant information
What Information Is Listed On The National Police Certificate?
Following the AFP police check, a National Police Certificate is issued containing a list of the candidate’s offender history including:
- any charge found proven guilty in court;
- details of the court that heard the charge, the date and any penalty or sentence;
- findings of guilt by a court, even if no conviction is recorded;
- court convictions, even if no sentence or penalty was given;
- good behaviour bonds and similar court orders;
- pending charges (i.e. the candidate has been charged with an offence but has not yet appeared in court);
- current investigations in which the subject is a suspect;
- Children’s Court convictions and guilty findings;
- traffic convictions and guilty findings; and
- on-the-spot fines issued by police that ended up in court
However, the National Police Certificate does not contain information regarding a candidate’s spent convictions.
A spent conviction is a criminal conviction that has been removed from a person’s criminal record because it has lapsed after the proposed federal legislative period. While it differs from state to state, the period after which a conviction lapses, is generally either:
- five years if the individual was convicted as a child; or
- ten years in other cases
Why Do AFP Police Checks Typically Form Part of The Recruitment Process?
When recruiting for a position, employers generally want to gather as much information as possible about the potential candidate to ensure they are making a well-informed decision.
Not only does conducting an AFP police check to aid your hiring decision, but it also safeguards the interests of your business and aids in mitigating risks such as:
- employee misconduct;
- damaged; and
- injuries caused by employees
An AFP police check can be used to identify whether a candidate has previously committed any criminal misconduct such as fraud or theft.
Applicants that are found to have had a previous offence during pre-employment screening are generally considered a significant hire risk due to high re-offending rates. According to the latest Justice Report on Government Services, almost 55% of released prisoners reoffend.
For example, a recent study reported that retail employers are losing an estimated $2.7 billion a year as a result of employee theft.
What Happens If A Candidate Has a Criminal History?
It is illegal in Australia to discriminate against a potential candidate based on their criminal record unless it directly relates to the job and its duties.
For example, suppose your organisation is recruiting for a position in a bank. The potential candidate has an offender history in which they were charged for embezzling money and committing fraud. In that case, it’s likely that it won’t be illegal not to hire that candidate based on the information obtained from the AFP check.
Whereas, if the employee was found guilty of committing a traffic offence, and they were not hired because that offence is shown on their National Criminal Certificate, that would be potentially illegal.
The responsibility of deciding what is considered relevant information is at the discretion of the employer. Always seek your own HR and legal advice for these types of circumstances.
How Do You Submit an AFP Police Check?
Your business can obtain an online AFP police check on a potential candidate through an AFP authorised organisation..
We are an approved account holder with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and can submit National Police Checks on behalf of clients. VerifyNow is also accredited with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) to submit Criminal History Checks on behalf of organisations to assist with employment screening or individuals.
We believe that all organisations can safeguard their business and improve their hiring quality by conducting an AFP police check on prospective employees.
Conducting an AFP police check on potential job candidates can:
- determine whether a candidate has previously committed any criminal misconduct;
- mitigate employee misconduct risks such as fraud or theft;
- reduce potential liability for negligence; and
- protect your business’s reputation
AFP police checks are only ONE part of the entire pre-employment screening framework that organisations should adopt. There are much more depending on the role you’re hiring for such as:
- employment history and integrity checks;
- psychometric testing;
- financial regulatory checks; and
- qualification checks
If you’re looking for help with conducting an AFP police check or improving your pre-employment screening process, get in touch with us.