Criminal Records in Australia

Find out the facts about conducting checks

If you take a look around the internet, you’d think obtaining Australian Criminal Records was as easy as ordering a pizza. Run a search, pay a fee, instantly discover everything about a persons chequered past. Easy right?

The Reality

Criminal Records are classed as “Sensitive Information” under the Privacy Act. They require the person in question to provide consent for release.

Official records may be access through State and Federal Police and a large number of Crimtrac authorised agents. These records are sold as “Police Checks“. These agents act as a middle man between the public and the Crimtrac (criminal records) database and charge a fee for their services. To obtain a police check through one of these providers you are required to have a consent for release form signed as well as 100 point proof of identity. Proof of Identity can be supplied via a number of means and depends on the provider. These include having an ID Check performed at a Post Office.

The time it takes to obtain a check varies greatly between providers. The base time can be anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 weeks, however checks flagged for manual processing may take longer.

Who can obtain a Criminal Record Check?

Anyone can obtain a copy of their own criminal history. Anybody can obtain a copy of another persons criminal history so long as they have permission and pass all checks.

It is now common place in many industries for an employer to request a check on shortlisted candidates before making their final determinations. A person does have the right to say no to having a check conducted. The likely outcome of which though is that they do not get the job.

Unofficial Records

There are a host of popular websites offering Australian criminal records checks. We have come across a number of types of unofficial sites, all varying in the data on offer. They include the following:

  • Data compiled from newspapers and the like relating to criminal matters.
  • Court attendance information.
  • Conduct a search and be taken to a genealogy database.

Whilst some of these services may have some interesting information on hand, they are incomplete at best.

For example, a court appearance can mean a lot of things. It is not an accurate representation of a criminal record. It is simply a representation that a person was in court on a given day. Do not mistake this type of information as criminal history.

Historical Checks

A number of family history websites contain historical criminal records databases. Under the Public Records Act, certain private records are closed for 75 years from the time the record was created. This is to prevent breaches of privacy. As such, records relating to criminal history are available from archives and the like up until 75 years ago.