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!