Disputing an AccessNI certificate
If you think there’s information on your certificate that’s wrong or shouldn’t be there, you can raise a dispute with AccessNI. How your dispute is handled depends on the level of criminal record check and what information you are disputing.
Time limit for disputing a certificate
If you disagree with information on your disclosure certificate, you must raise a dispute within 90 days of AccessNI issuing the certificate.
Disputing personal information
If your dispute is about incorrect personal information on your certificate, such as the wrong title (Mr instead of Mrs), misspelling your name or incorrect address, you should contact AccessNI by email or letter. You should include:
- 'dispute' as a reference or as the email subject
- your name, address and personal details
- certificate reference number
- as much information about the error as possible
AccessNI will review your certificate and check your application. If the mistake was caused by AccessNI, they'll issue an accurate certificate free.
If the mistake was caused by incorrect information given by you, your employer or the organisation that submitted the application, you'll need a new certificate. Depending on the level of check, you or your employer will need to send the criminal record check application and pay the fee.
Disputing police information on an enhanced certificate
If you think police information on an enhanced certificate is incorrect, shouldn’t have been disclosed, or isn’t relevant to the job or position you’re applying for, you can raise a dispute by completing the AccessNI certificate dispute form.
You should include as much information about your dispute as you can. You should also say if you've already spoken to the police about police information on your certificate.
You can ask someone to help you with completing the form. If they are a solicitor or other professional person they should also complete their details on the form.
AccessNI will review your dispute. They can work with the police to make a decision.
If you dispute the certificate because you feel the information shouldn’t be there or isn’t relevant, AccessNI will ask the police to review their decision. If the police agree that the information should not be there, AccessNI will re-issue your certificate free.
If the police believe that the information should still be there, but that their disclosure should be written differently, they'll contact you. If you agree with the new wording, AccessNI will re-issue your certificate free of charge.
If you don't agree with the police decision, AccessNI will send your dispute to the Independent Monitor for review.
You must raise a dispute with AccessNI before it can be referred to the Independent Monitor.
The Independent Monitor will consider your case. They can ask the police:
- to review your dispute again
- for information they have considered as part of their decision to disclose
- the reason why this information was put on your enhanced certificate
Once your case has been reviewed, the Independent Monitor will decide whether the police information should stay the same, be amended or be removed.
If the Independent Monitor decides that the information should be amended or removed, AccessNI will re-issue your certificate free.
If the Independent Monitor decides that the police information should not be amended or removed, AccessNI will tell you about this decision. Your certificate will not be changed.
The Independent Monitor's decision on your case is final. You can't appeal their decision.
You can apply for a judicial review through the courts if you still feel that both the police and the Independent Monitor have made the wrong decision. You should ask a solicitor for legal advice about doing this.
Disputing criminal record information on a standard or enhanced certificate
If you feel that the criminal record information disclosed on a standard or enhanced certificate shouldn’t be there or isn’t relevant to the position you’re applying for, you can ask for the certificate to be reviewed by the Independent Reviewer.
The Independent Reviewer can only consider criminal record information on the certificate that is ‘spent’. A spent conviction is when you were found guilty of a criminal offence by the court but did not reoffend for a specified time after your conviction. To read more about spent convictions, go to:
To ask for a review of criminal record information:
- you must do this within 90 days of AccessNI issuing your certificate
- you must complete the AccessNI certificate dispute form online
You can ask someone to help you fill in the form. If they are a solicitor or other professional person, they should also give their details on the form.
The Independent Reviewer will review the offences on your certificate and the information you have provided in the dispute form. They may ask for other information about your criminal record from:
- the probation board
- the Youth Justice Agency
Once the reviewer has considered all the relevant information, they'll make one of the following decisions:
- uphold the decision to disclose your criminal record information on the certificate
- disclose some but not all of your criminal record information
- no longer disclose any of your criminal record information
You'll receive a letter to explain what action has been taken and why. If some or all of the criminal record information on your original certificate is no longer to be disclosed, AccessNI will give you a new certificate free.
The Independent Reviewer’s decision on your case is final. You can't appeal their decision.
You can apply for a judicial review through the courts if you still feel that both the police and the Independent Reviewer have made the wrong decision. You should ask a solicitor for legal advice about doing this.
Resolving a dispute
AccessNI aim to respond to 95 per cent of all disputes within 14 calendar days. Disputes about police and criminal record information may take longer.
Sometimes police may need your fingerprints to resolve a dispute. When fingerprints are needed for identification, AccessNI will explain what happens.