As an employer, there are a number of factors to consider if you need a criminal history check (or disclosure) for a position in your organisation. These factors may include the legal requirements for a check; whether you are entitled by law, to carry out a check on an applicant or if you want a check to be done as part of your internal recruitment process, in which case you will need to find out the level of check required.
AccessNI checks and the legal requirements
Basic AccessNI check
A Basic check is the disclosure of an individual’s unspent convictions. Any employer may ask potential employees to obtain a Basic AccessNI check as part of their recruitment process. For example, if the job requires access to airside or restricted areas of airports, a Basic check is sufficient.
Standard AccessNI check
A Standard check is the disclosure of an individual’s full criminal record, including spent and unspent convictions. Examples of positions eligible for a standard disclosure are:
- medical practitioner
- veterinary surgeon
You should always seek legal advice if you are planning to ask an employee to obtain a Standard check.
For more information about spent convictions, go to:
Enhanced AccessNI check
Sometimes an employer is legally required to obtain an Enhanced AccessNI check before employing an individual, primarily for posts that involve working with vulnerable groups including children . Employers must not knowingly employ someone who is not allowed to work in such an environment. An Enhanced check gives an individual’s full criminal history including spent and unspent convictions, cautions and any other material that the police consider might be relevant to the postition applied for and should be disclosed. An employer working in these areas may refuse to employ someone who does not agree to undertake an Enhanced AccessNI check. Only organisations registered with AccessNI can apply for this service.
When there is no legal requirement for an AccessNI check
For some occupations, whilst there may be no legal requirement to obtain an AccessNI check, an employer might decide to have a check carried because the law entitles them to do so for that specific job. For example, a job that includes caring for children in a supervised capacity does not need an Enhanced check, but an employer can arrange for one to be carried out, if they wish.
In all circumstances the employer is responsible for knowing the level of check required for each position and meeting legal obligations in all their recruitment procedures.
Summary of AccessNI checks
|Nature of work||Legal obligation||Level of check|
Working beyond the passenger security check in an airport
(for example, as an airport employee, in a shop or on the runways)
|Department for Transport Regulations||Basic|
|Working in a care or residential home with adults||DHSSPS standards||Enhanced|
|Working in domiciliary care with adults||DHSSPS standards||Enhanced|
|Working in a day care setting with children and childminding||DHSSPS standards||Enhanced|
|Taxi driving licence||Road Traffic (NI) Order 1981||Enhanced, but without a barred list check|
|Fostering of children||Childrens Act 1989 or Childrens(NI) Order 1987||Enhanced|
|Adoption of children||Adoption (NI) Order 1987||Enhanced|
For some other types of work, employers will require an AccessNI check as this is part of the terms and conditions of employment. For example:
|Nature of work||Type of check|
|Posts in the Northern Ireland Civil Service and certain other public bodies||Basic|
|Working within the security guarding sector||
*The Security Industry Authority will sponsor this
Applications for standard and enhanced checks must be submitted through an AccessNI approved Registered Body. A Registered Body is either:
- an employer/organisation
- an Umbrella Body, which is an organisation which processes criminal record checks on behalf of other non registered organisations
To find out more about Registered and Umbrella Bodies, go to:
All registered bodies must comply with the AccessNI code of practice. AccessNI will carry out checks to ensure this is the case.
All basic checks must be paid for - the current charge is £26.
If you require a standard or enhanced disclosure and the position being applied for is a voluntary post (that complies with the AccessNI definition of a volunteer) the check will be provided free.
AccessNI definition of a volunteer
Anyone who gives their time in a position in a non-profit organisation, free of charge, doing something for the good of the community or a voluntary group, for which they may get travelling and other out-of-pocket expenses, and which is not for their own benefit or for the benefit of a close relative.
The exclusions are:
- where the person is volunteering directly for a statutory organisation
- where the person is volunteering for a non-profit organisation in a position which delivers statutory services under contract or in a specific project, for which that organisation has received funding from the government which includes provision covering the costs of disclosures for volunteers
For further information on volunteers, click on the link below:
Legislation does not prevent you seeking further checks on staff you have already checked, nor does it prevent retrospective checking. As an organisation, you must decide whether this is required.
Can an applicant be given a job if convictions are disclosed?
Unless there is a legislative bar, a conviction should not automatically disqualify anyone. You should consider any conviction disclosed in terms of its relevancy to the post in question.
You should bear in mind that in some cases, the applicant may be committing an offence by applying for the post.
Recruiting people with conflict related convictions
For further information go to:
Applicants from overseas
For advice about checks on applicants from overseas go to:
Employers who intend employing applicants from overseas may wish to contact the country's representative in the United Kingdom. Details can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website:
Emigrating or working overseas
Before you emigrate or go overseas to work or study, you should find out about any criminal record check you'll need in that country.
How to query information on a Disclosure Certificate
For information on how to resolve a dispute about the content of a certificate, go to: