In a world where security concerns are paramount, the demand for reliable background checks has never been higher. For individuals seeking employment, applying for visas, or aiming to establish trust, understanding the significance of a police clearance certificate is crucial. In South Africa, the South African Police Service (SAPS) is responsible for issuing these certificates. But what does a police clearance show?
This article aims to unpack details about police clearance certificates from SAPS, shedding light on their purpose, components, and the valuable information they provide. Whether you’re an employer seeking a trustworthy candidate or an individual navigating the complexities of visa applications, this guide will equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions and ensure the safety and security of your endeavours.
What does a police clearance show?
When it comes to deciphering the content of a South African police clearance certificate, it is essential to understand the comprehensive nature of the information it presents. This document serves as an official record of an individual’s criminal history within the South African legal system. It provides valuable insights that can help assess their trustworthiness and suitability for various purposes.
Types of information typically revealed in a South African police clearance include:
Criminal records and convictions
A police clearance certificate from SAPS showcases any criminal records and convictions of the individual. This includes details of offenses committed, the date of conviction, and the sentence imposed by the court. It serves as a vital tool in evaluating a person’s criminal history and their adherence to the law.
Outstanding warrants or charges
The certificate may reveal any outstanding warrants or pending charges against the individual. This information alerts potential employers, visa authorities, or other relevant parties to the fact that legal matters involving the individual are still unresolved.
Previous arrests and pending cases
A police clearance certificate can disclose information about an individual’s past arrests and any ongoing criminal cases. This allows interested parties to assess the individual’s behavior and legal entanglements, enabling informed decisions regarding employment, visa applications, or other situations that require trustworthiness.
History of domestic violence or restraining orders
In cases involving domestic violence or restraining orders, a police clearance certificate may provide insight into an individual’s history in these matters. This information can be crucial for employers or organizations seeking to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees or clients.
Involvement in fraudulent activities or financial crimes
A South African police clearance certificate may also reveal any involvement of the individual in fraudulent activities or financial crimes. This includes offenses such as identity theft, embezzlement, or other forms of financial fraud. Such information is vital for financial institutions, employers in sensitive positions, and organizations dealing with sensitive data.
Limitations of information on a police clearance
While a South African police clearance certificate provides valuable insights into an individual’s criminal history, it is important to acknowledge its limitations. Recognizing these limitations helps to maintain a balanced perspective and make well-informed decisions based on the available information.
Some notable limitations of the information provided includes:
Exclusion of juvenile records
One limitation of a police clearance certificate is that it typically does not include an individual’s juvenile records. As such, offenses committed during their youth may not be reflected in the certificate. It is important to consider that individuals can undergo significant personal growth and rehabilitation over time.
Unreported or undiscovered offenses
Police clearance certificates are based on official records, which may not capture unreported or undiscovered offenses. Instances where a person has committed crimes without being caught or convicted, will not be reflected in the certificate. This highlights the importance of comprehensive background checks that go beyond relying solely on police clearance information.
Limited jurisdictional scope
A South African police clearance certificate is specific to the jurisdiction of the South African legal system. It may not encompass offenses committed outside South Africa or other jurisdictions. For a complete understanding of an individual’s criminal history, it is crucial to consider conducting checks in relevant jurisdictions where they have resided or worked.
Time limitations and relevancy of the disclosed information
Police clearance certificates provide information up until the date of issuance. As time passes, the relevance of the disclosed information may diminish. It is important to consider the recency of the certificate and whether it accurately reflects an individual’s current circumstances and behavior.
Understanding these limitations underscores the need for a comprehensive background check and risk assessment approach. While a South African police clearance certificate offers valuable information, it should be supplemented with other checks, such as reference checks, interviews, and additional verification methods, to ensure a well-rounded evaluation of an individual’s suitability and trustworthiness.
How is a police clearance issued?
All applications for police clearance certificates start with the basic step of having your fingerprints taken. Most people think you can only do fingerprints at the nearest police station. But, you can actually have your fingerprints taken anywhere as long as there is a lawyer, notary, or commissioner of oaths present to sign and stamp the fingerprint form, verifying that the prints are authentic.
The fingerprints must be verifiably those of the applicant and must be submitted in original ink. This ensures they are easy to scan and save as images at the Criminal Records Center (CRC). Digital fingerprint forms and files are not accepted in South Africa. Click on the above image to see the full Police Clearance application form.
Along with your fingerprints, it is also essential to submit a copy of your South African Identity Document along with the completed application form. If you are a foreigner in need of a Police Clearance Certificate for South Africa, you will still follow the same steps. However, instead of an ID document, you will simply submit a copy of your foreign passport and use that number instead of an ID number.
Where to apply for a South African PCC
Although one can apply for a police clearance certificate through your local police station, this is often a very timely approach. Police stations do not directly send off applications on the day you submit them. To save on internal courier costs, police stations wait until they have received a set number of applications before couriering them to the CRC in Pretoria. There is also a delay between when the applications arrive at the CRC and when they are captured on their SAPS system.
The other option is to use a South Africa concierge service, like Apostil.co.za, to handle everything on your behalf. As a trusted resource and registered courier with the CRC, we know exactly where to apply for these documents and can have the applications captured on the system as soon as possible.
We also know who to follow up with when things need to be moving smoothly. Very importantly, we can obtain corrections done quickly when the SAPS CRC makes a mistake on your certificate; this happens more often than you would think.
Do you need help obtaining your Police Clearance Certificate?
Get in touch with Apostil.co.za today. We lodge applications on behalf of our clients and handle everything on their behalf, significantly speeding up the time it takes to obtain your PCC.
As a civilian, you cannot directly submit your police clearance application form to the CRC. Only registered couriers can do this. Apostil.co.za is a registered courier with a contract with the CRC. This ensures we can help our clients obtain their documents in the fastest time possible.
Obtaining an urgent South African Police Clearance certificate
Apostil.co.za can assist you in getting your South African Police Clearance (PCC) in between 5 and 30 working days of applying (excluding courier time). Fill in the form on this page to start.