Monday, 2 November 2015

Online Police Checks in 1 Hour - Fact or Fiction? ... Now in 30 Minutes or Less!

As technology continues to drive the way that industries operate, companies ever increasingly face the decision to either 'sink' or 'swim'; to embrace change and innovate or risk the chance of becoming obsolete and irrelevant. This of course only really matters if you are providing products or services for the market!

The Australian "Police Check" industry is no different from any other market or industry. To understand how this market works, one must first understand a few key Truths:
  • All Police Checks in Australia are conducted by a single agency called CrimTrac. CrimTrac is a federal agency that provides a myriad of services for the law enforcement community. Providing police checks is but one of its many functions and services.
  • Organisations who can administer police checking services (thereby issuing a "Police Check") can only do so if they have formal authorisation from CrimTrac. To gain authorisation, the organisation must meet a number of criteria and if accepted by CrimTrac, a formal contract / agreement is established. This agreement is standard in form for all agencies and dictates the processes by which organisations must operate.
  • Organisations who provide Police Checking services are roughly divided into one of three camps:
    • There are those who conduct Police Checks strictly for their own staff or contractors
    • Others serve as a third party to provide Police Checks as a service to other organisations
    • State police agencies provide police checks as part of their administrative services.
  • Regardless of which camp an authorised Police Check issuing body sits in, they all must comply with the specifications by which CrimTrac manages the program.
  • Finally, persons seeking to obtain a Police Check have a choice!
With all that in mind, what is the difference between Police Check issuing agents? The difference really comes down to cost and technology.

As stated above, CrimTrac is the central and only agency that can undertake National Police Checks. As such, one can logically conclude that the results of a Police Check do not vary based on the organisation which lodges the application for it. So a Police Check is a Police Check is a Police Check. And obviously the results of the police check will vary from person to person, but they will not vary from issuing organisation to organisation.

So why then do some agencies which issue Police Checks claim that they can deliver checks in "one hour". Is this true? Why do others claim they can complete most checks in 24-48 hours? Better yet, why do state police agencies claim it takes 2-3 weeks to process a police check application?

The answer is two-fold and comes down to:
  1. Technology
  2. Truthfulness
Let's consider the first point: technology. Most police check agencies process applications in one of two ways: paper based or software based. No doubt if you are accepting hand written applications as most state police agencies do, the police organisation will have to employ staff to take these handwritten forms, process them for completeness and then enter the details into the CrimTrac database (which all agencies do).

So regardless of whether you think the state police agencies should be doing this (instead of for example fighting crime) they provide a manual service. There are many other providers which also process manually for their internal staff.

The second mode of processing is completed via software. Agencies such as Veritas Check ( have developed purpose built software systems that are integrated with websites to allow users to apply for Police Checks online at a time and place of the applicants' choosing. In fact, through the use of technology that is tailored specifically for mobile devices, applicants can use their smart devices 100% to apply online, capture images of their identity documents, etc.

Technology is the key differentiator between agencies issuing police checks. For those agencies which have embraced change, they are able to process applications in a significantly shorter period of time than the state police agencies. Likewise, because the applicant enters the data, there is a greater chance that the information will be correct and hold ups will not likely occur due to inaccuracies of data entered by data clerks contracted by the state police agencies.

So let's now talk about the Truthfulness part. Why do some agencies boldly make a claim that they can deliver police checks in one hour, when other agencies who use similar technology make claims of 24-48 hours. How is this so if all are using CrimTrac to process details? If we first assume that the technology is similar (and it is...really...collect data via an online form; use inbuilt systems to vet the data, and send to CrimTrac - the same is true of the reverse when receiving results). The answer to this then lies in the fine print...

Read what CrimTrac states about their service delivery:

How long will my check take?
Our aim, along with our police partner agencies, is to process 95% of police checks within 10 business days.

Around 70% of police checks are completed almost instantly and the results are provided to the organisation that requested the checks within minutes.

The remaining 30% of police checks are referred to one or more police agencies. Sometimes this process takes longer than 10 business days.

Then, for each agency which claims "Police Checks in one hour", read their fine print! Page after page of disclaimer will ultimately state what CrimTrac says..."most checks - actually 70% - are returned instantly...the others within 10 days.

So buyer beware! Who are you going to trust...the police check agency which is telling you a half-truth, or the one providing you with the correct information for you to make an educated decision!

Saturday, 15 August 2015

AFP Police Checks for Citizenship or Immigration Purposes

For persons requiring a police check in support of an immigration, citizenship, or visa application with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, you will need to obtain an police check issued by the Australian Federal Police (AFP). This is also referred to as an "AFP police check".

The DIBP requires persons to be of "good character" and will determine or make the assessment of your character based on the outcomes of your national police history check or police check. Is this a fair consideration by the DIBP? It of course depends in part on what you consider fair.

For those persons applying for citizenship or seeking to enter Australia on a visa, many persons already living in Australia would think that this is a fair assessment criteria. In law abiding countries, where persons paying their taxes expect their monies provided to their government to spent on services that are critical to the running of the society, it is fair to expect that the recipients of those services are themselves worthy. If criminals or persons who in the past have broken laws are recipients of the benefits of those in society who work hard to provide for their families and also pay taxes, then justice is due.

Likewise, for those persons who pay their fair share of taxes, it is not unreasonable for them to expect the government to spend their hard earned dollars wisely.

On the contrary, if the law abiding citizens did not pay taxes, then how could government expect to run? Lawlessness and chaos would reign and society would eventually fail.

So what does this have to do with AFP Police Checks? The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) needs to have a single standard by which they can assess applications for entry into Australia. This standard, they state, is that applicants will be judged and must be "of good character". The DIBP uses the results of police checks to make this determination.

Because privacy laws vary from each in Australia, some information may or may not appear for the same applicant depending on which state their application is lodged. As a result, police checks for the DIBP must be issued by the Australian Federal Police. These "AFP Police Checks" are thus a single source of truth by which all applicants for immigration or citizenship are assessed.

So is this a fair assessment? Given that all applicants are assessed by a similar process, using a single standard, then one MUST assume that the assessment is fair.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Should Police Checks be Mandatory for Politicians?

Given the recent news regarding Mr. Billy Gordon, the member for Cook (Queensland), one must consider whether all politicians should be required to have a police check conducted on their background and furthermore, whether the results of these checks should be made public.

Let's consider this in two parts

- Should a police check be required of all elected persons?
- Should the results of these checks be made public?

Firstly, no person should be forced to undertake a mandatory police check. As we live in a free society, the choice is up to an individual as to whether they do or not. Having said that though, there could be consequences of opting out of a check

In many places of employment, police checks are mandatory. Within the health and aged care industries for example, police checks are one way that providers can mitigate risks to those persons in their care. While a police check is only a indication of past behaviours, they do not guarantee that the person in question is not or will not commit a punishable offence. Police checks in this case are just one step in a process to reduce harm or the likelihood of harm to persons in the care of others. It is an employer's responsibility and duty of care to ensure that steps are taken as precautions.

Perhaps in the case of employment or volunteering, the individual may not be assessed as suitable to work. Is this fair? Certainly it is. Again, employers or organisations seeking to engage persons to assist in the delivery of services have a duty of care to ensure that only those persons engaged are of a character deemed suitable
Is this discrimination? Perhaps it is in a sense, however all persons are entitled to have a police check. if a person opts out, then they themselves have made a decision which ultimately impacts an ability to assess a person in terms of suitability

So should politician be required to undertake a police check prior to serving as an elected official? Using the argument above, they should of their own will have one conducted, however if they opt out, the electorate should judge accordingly. This is simply a matter of leadership.

So should the results of a politician's police check be made public? Only if the person consents to their record being made public. Again, every individual has a right to maintain privacy of their personal information - even politicians. Making the decision to release or not to release a police check is therefore the politician's personal choice.

Each politician, however, should be judged by the voting public in terms of whether they choose to release their police check results or not. Obviously, a clean record makes a statement. An unreleased record, also makes a statement
Veritas Check provides applicants with an ability to apply for a police check in as little as 10 minutes. For as little as $23.00 for the completion of a check for volunteers, why wouldn't you obtain a police check?