There is more than one kind of criminal background check, and they’re not all created equal. Learn more here.

When you’re hiring a new employee, it’s common to have criminal background checks on your to-do list. It’s a commonplace and widely accepted practice to investigate the background of your employees thoroughly, to protect your company, your employees, and your customers.

However, if you thought that criminal record checks were a one size fits all situation, think again. There are actually several different security clearance levels common in Australia, and they all require and deliver different things.

Name Searches

Name searches are the most basic type of criminal record check that you can do in Australia. As the title suggests, this is a high-level search based on the applicant’s name, that will bring up any current cases or convictions associated with a particular name. The problem with this is that a subtle misspelling could mean you don’t get the information you need, and someone with a common name may bring up convictions for others with the same name.

Fingerprint and Name Searches

Fingerprint searches are a lot more accurate, but there are more permissions required and legalities to attend to before you can run one, and those may differ by area. Fingerprint checks are much more reliable though, because as we all know, there are no two people with the same prints, and records attached to fingerprints are much more likely to be correct! This is especially important for use in determining security clearance levels.

Regional Versus Federal

Another complication when it comes to conducting criminal record screening is that there are very often differences between the records held in one region or territory, and the ones held by Federal police. Which means that someone could well have committed crimes in another area, that won’t show up on a scan in your area.

Spent Records

Under the spent convictions scheme, people who were guilty and convicted of crimes in Australia that fit certain guidelines may be eligible to have their spent records hidden. They may only be required to disclose those records under very specific conditions, such as for military security clearance levels.

Military and Youth Records

Military and youth records are some of the most difficult (if not impossible) to access. In fact, unless you are hiring for a very specific job where these records are required, chances are you will not be able to get access to them.

International Criminal Records

Finally, with so much international mobility these days, it’s not uncommon to find that people may have criminal records in other parts of the world. These cases may never show up on Australian record searches, and if you are dealing with candidates who have lived abroad, you may need to dig deeper to find the truth.

Make Sure You Have Permission

With Australian privacy laws being what they are, you will almost always have to get written permission from a candidate before you can access any criminal records, or any other personal information for that matter.  The granting of your request for security clearance levels by government and other organizations will depend on the way that you request permission, and whether that information is relevant.

It’s always best, when dealing with sensitive information like this, to make sure that it’s relevant to your hiring needs, and that you have the policies and practices in place to protect each individuals’ personal information. Because if you don’t, you might well find yourself in trouble with the law!

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