When applying for a job or voluntary position, you may be asked to obtain a criminal history check. The employer or organisation will be able to advise you which level of check is required. You can also apply for a basic check yourself.
Who asks for the check
Your employer may help you to get this check, or they might ask you to get this yourself. If you are required to obtain your own basic check, you can pay by cheque, postal order or electronic card.
In some circumstances you may be required to obtain a criminal record check as part of a licensing application. In this case the relevant regulatory authority will advise which level of check is required.
Information for volunteers
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 (according to the AccessNI definition of a volunteer) then the check will be provided free of charge. A disclosure is the process undertaken by AccessNI to find an individual's criminal history information.
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
To find out further information about volunteers click on the link below:
Information for self employed people
The only check available to self employed people is the basic check. Self employed people cannot obtain standard or enhanced checks as these must be submitted through a registered body who can verify that necessary legislative entitlements have been met for disclosure of this higher level of information.
You can see a policy statement on checks for self employed people by clicking the link below:
How to apply for an AccessNI check
To apply for a check you will need to:
- complete an application form (the application form you need to complete depends on the level of check needed – basic, standard or enhanced)
- provide documents to verify your identity
To download application forms and guidance click on the link below:
Paying for the check
Some organisations may pay for the check for you, or you may have to pay a processing charge for your application. Check with your employer.
What level of check to get
Your employer will advise which level of check is required under the recruitment process.
An individual can also apply directly to AccessNI for a basic check. An individual can’t apply for a standard or enhanced check.
Check turnaround times
AccessNI publishes information every week about current turnaround times. To read these, click on the link below:
AccessNI aims to deliver 90 per cent of correctly completed enhanced application forms within four weeks of receipt and 90 per cent of correctly completed standard and basic application forms within two weeks of receipt.
For some checks, particularly at the enhanced level, the search process can take time as AccessNI may need to liaise with other external authorities. You should draw no inferences from the time it takes to deliver a disclosure.
The question of whether or not you can start work is for the employer to consider with due regard to the risks. However, in some cases employers might be breaking the law by allowing you to start before the results of the disclosure are known.
What happens after the check is carried out?
After AccessNI has carried out the criminal records check they will issue a disclosure certificate containing the information found. For basic checks, the certificate will go directly to the applicant. Standard and enhanced disclosure certificates also go to the employer.
How long checks are valid for
Your disclosure is valid only during the recruitment process for which it was applied. AccessNI does not recommend that disclosures are transferred from one post to another as the information on the disclosure can be guaranteed correct only on the day on which it was issued.
Can the disclosure certificate be re-used?
A standard or enhanced disclosure should not be re-used. This is because every application to see spent convictions, or other approved information, should be submitted on the basis of the specific role or position. Risks to safeguarding arise if this requirement is not strictly followed as information not disclosed for one position may be disclosed for another position, and vice-versa.
A full policy statement on the reuse of certificates, known as portability, can be read by clicking the link below:
What to do if you don't agree with the information on the disclosure certificate
Disputes against the content of a disclosure certificate need to be resolved prior to taking a recruitment decision.
If it should prove impossible to resolve matters by other means, the AccessNI disputes procedures will apply. Click on the link below for further information: