About criminal record checks

If you apply for certain jobs or voluntary positions, you may be asked for an AccessNI check. You will be told when a basic, standard or enhanced check is necessary. Individuals can apply for basic checks. Only an employer registered with AccessNI can apply for standard and enhanced checks.

When will an employer require an AccessNI check?

Employers are responsible for knowing when a job or volunteering role requires an AccessNI check. There are three levels of check.

  • basic
  • standard
  • enhanced

An employer can ask all job applicants to apply for a basic check during the recruitment process.

Basic and standard checks are not suitable for roles working with children or vulnerable adults.

You must be 16 years of age or older to get a standard check or enhanced check and you must apply through an AccessNI registered body.

The only exception is for family members of an applicant, under 16, where the applicant is registering as a childminder or is seeking to adopt or foster a child.

Find out more about the different levels of AccessNI checkwhat information they disclose and how to apply.

If you’re self employed

You can only apply for a basic check. You cannot get a standard or enhanced check because these checks must be submitted through a registered body.

Only a registered body can verify compliance with legal processes about disclosing the requested information.

If you’re a volunteer

You can apply for a basic check. The fee is £26.00 which you or the voluntary organisation must pay.

If you're a volunteer in a role which requires a standard or enhanced check, in some cases AccessNI will provide the check for free. For more information, see the following nidirect page:

Transgender applicants

AccessNI has a special application process for transgender people who don't want to reveal their previous gender and names to the organisation requiring the disclosure.

If you are transgender and want advice about job applications where an AccessNI check is required, or you need help completing the AccessNI application, you should contact AccessNI on 0300 200 7888 and ask for the Operations Manager.

Working with children and vulnerable adults

If you are applying for a job or volunteering in a role providing services to, or having close and regular supervision of children or vulnerable adults you will normally need to get an enhanced check.

An enhanced check must be applied for through a registered body. The organisation or body that you are working for will tell you what you need to do.

If the position is home based, registered bodies must indicate this on the application. You have a home based occupation if you:

carry out some or all of your work with children or adults in your home
live with someone who is being, or has been AccessNI checked because they work with children or carry out some or all of their work from home

Here are some examples of home based occupations:

  • childminding, fostering or adoption of children

Disclosure certificates

When AccessNI searches and checks your criminal history, they provide a disclosure certificate with any criminal records. Unspent convictions appear on a basic disclosure certificate. Cautions, spent and unspent convictions appear on a standard or enhanced certificate.

A clean criminal history is described as “no information found”.

Only you will receive a copy of the disclosure certificate unless you have given specific permission for us to send it to your employer. 

For disclosure applications submitted through registered or responsible bodies using the online application process, AccessNI will update the case tracking service that both you and your employer can see.

For disclosure applications submitted on paper, your employer will not know when the certificate has issued. You should therefore consider telling your employer when you receive the certificate.

Your disclosure certificate is valid during the recruitment process for a specific role or job. Information about your criminal record history is accurate on the day the certificate was issued.

A disclosure certificate should not be transferred from one role to another.

Find out more about information disclosed on your certificate.

If you think there’s information on your certificate that shouldn’t be there or is incorrect, you can raise a dispute with AccessNI

Lost or damaged disclosure certificates

While you must not transfer a check from one job to another, if you do lose or damage your disclosure certificate you can ask AccessNI to reprint it for you, as long it is within 90 days of the certificate being issued. A reprint is free.

If 90 days have passed a fresh criminal history check will be required for a new disclosure certificate. You or your employer will need to pay for the second check.

What an employer can't ask you to do

Whether you are an existing employee or are applying for a job,  an employer cannot ask you to request information on your criminal history directly from the police. It is an offence for an employer to do so.

If employers need to check criminal history information they must go through Access NI.

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