Levels of check and what they disclose
An AccessNI check is a criminal history record check which provides different levels of information about you. There are three levels of check:
- a basic check contains details of all convictions considered to be unspent
- a standard check contains details of all spent and unspent convictions, informed warnings, cautions and diversionary youth conferences
- an enhanced check contains the same information as a standard check as well as a check of police records held locally and, for positions working with children and vulnerable adults, may include information held by the Disclosure and Barring Service
Fixed penalty tickets, parking fines, some motoring offences and other minor offending, such as failure to pay a TV licence, will not be included in any checks. Some old and minor convictions and non-court disposals on a criminal record may also be filtered and not disclosed on a standard or enhanced check.
An overview of disclosure information is available in the table below.
|Level of check||unspent convictions||spent convictions||barred lists||relevant police information||caution|
Types of criminal record information
If you admit an offence, the police can give you an informed warning without going to court. A warning is not a conviction. It stays on your criminal record for 12 months. This applies to both adults and under 18s.
If you admit an offence, the police can give you a caution. A caution is not a conviction. A caution is a warning which stays on your record for six years if you’re an adult, or two years if you’re under 18.
Diversionary youth conference
If an offender under 18 admits guilt, they can agree to a diversionary youth conference. They and their parent or guardian go to several meetings aimed at diverting the young person from criminal behaviour. The diversionary conference stays on their record for two years after date accepted.
If you’re prosecuted for an offence in court and found guilty, you have a conviction for that offence.
You might receive:
- a discharge
- a fine
- a prison sentence (including a suspended sentence)
- community service or other penalty
Spent and unspent convictions
If you are still in your rehabilitation period following a criminal conviction, your conviction is unspent. Any custodial sentence over two and a half years will stay unspent.
If you were found guilty of a criminal offence by a court, following the specified time-period your conviction will be considered “spent”. The specified time is the rehabilitation period.
Informed warnings and cautions are automatically spent.
An AccessNI basic check does not include spent convictions.
Find out more about when convictions are spent in the table below.
|Over 30 months in prison||never spent|
|Over six months but less than 30 months in prison||ten years (five years if convicted if person is under 18 at the time of conviction)|
|Less than six months in prison||seven years (three and a half years if person is under 18 at the time of conviction)|
|Fine or community service order||five years (two and a half years if person is under 18 at the time of conviction)|
|Probation||for the period of the order or one year whichever is longer|
|Detention in a place directed by Minister of Justice/SofS under Article 45 of CJ (Children) (NI) Order 1998||
six months or less – three years
over six months but less than 30 months – five years
|Attendance Centre Orders, remand home orders, training school orders, juvenile justice centre orders||one year after order expires|
|Care and supervision orders under Children and Young Persons Act (NI) 1998||date the order ceases or one year, whichever is longer|
|Hospital orders under Mental Health Act (NI) 1961 or Mental Health (NI) Order 1986||five years from date of conviction or two years after the order expires, whichever is longer|
|Disqualification and other orders imposing disability, prohibition or other penalty||date the order ceases|
|Absolute discharge||six months|
|Any other sentence for which the Order does not specify a specific period||five years (two and half years if under 18 at time of conviction)|
The following sentences will be regarded as immediately spent for the purpose of disclosure certificates:
- cautions including restorative and conditional cautions
- diversionary youth conference (DYC)
- informed warnings
Relevant police information
An enhanced check can disclose non-conviction information or 'soft intelligence’ if the police reasonably believe it is relevant to the role you’re applying for and that it should to be disclosed. This could be an incident which did not go to court or information about an ongoing police investigation.
If police disclose information on your certificate and you consider it was not relevant or it should not have been disclosed you can raise a dispute with AccessNI.
Barred list checks
The Disclosure and Barring Service keeps two barred lists:
- people who are unsuitable for working with children
- people who are unsuitable for working with vulnerable adults
People on these lists are barred from regulated activity with children and vulnerable adults. It is a criminal offence for someone on these lists to work or apply to work in regulated activity.
Find out more information about regulated activities, including a list of roles which are regulated.
Filtering criminal records
Sometimes details of your criminal record won’t appear on your disclosure certificate. This is called ‘filtering’. AccessNI filters convictions and cautions for minor or certain old offences from standard and enhanced checks.
Filtering does not remove convictions for serious offences or convictions that resulted in a prison sentence.
Offences exempt from filtering
AccessNI does not filter:
- a conviction or caution, diversionary youth conference or informed warning for a specified offence
- a conviction resulting in a custodial sentence (including a suspended sentence), regardless of offence
- a conviction for trying to commit a specified offence
- a conviction for encouraging or helping someone else to commit a specified offence
Specified offences are serious crimes that will always appear on an AccessNI check no matter when the crime occurred or the offender’s age when they were convicted. Specified offences include:
- murder, manslaughter, kidnap, hijack, money laundering
- violent or sexual crimes
- matters relevant to safeguarding or child protection
If you’re convicted of an offence abroad and the foreign authorities share this information with UK police, this offence could appear on your criminal record in Northern Ireland. AccessNI will not filter an offence if it is equivalent to any on the specified list.
Offences which are filtered
AccessNI will filter information as follows:
|Conviction or disposal||18 or over at time of conviction/disposal||Under 18 at time of conviction/disposal|
|Conviction for single non-specified offence||filtered after 11 years||filtered after five and a half years|
|Cautions for non-specified offences||filtered after six years||filtered after two years|
|Diversionary Youth Conferences||n/a||filtered after two years|
|Informed warning for non-specified offence||filtered after one year||filtered after one year|
Examples of filtered records
The examples of filtered criminal records below describe made up people and explain when filtering applies to their cautions or convictions for minor offences.
Old and minor offence – conviction and fine
Arnold is 52. He was convicted and fined £50 for common assault 2001. He did not serve prison time or receive a suspended sentence. This is his only conviction.
This will be filtered because the offence is not on the specified list and the conviction is more than 11 years old.
More than one offence – convictions and fines
Basia is 50. She was convicted and fined £100 for common assault in 2001. Subsequently in 2002 she was convicted and fined £100 for shoplifting. She did not serve prison time or receive a suspended sentence for either offence.
These convictions will not be filtered. Although over 11 years have passed since the convictions, Basia has more than one conviction so all convictions are disclosed.
Under 18 – conviction and fine for an old offence
Cole is 24. He was convicted of common assault in 2007 and fined £200.
This will be filtered because the offence is not on the specified list and the conviction happened over five and a half years ago when Cole was under 18.
Under 18 - conviction and suspended prison sentence
Delia is 24. She was convicted of common assault in 2007. She received six months’ imprisonment suspended for two years.
This conviction will not be filtered because Delia received a prison sentence.
Specified offence - conviction and fine
Ely is 30. He was convicted of possessing prohibited images of children in 2001. He was fined £500.
This is a single office which happened over 11 years ago. This conviction will not be filtered because it is a specified offence.
Over 18 - caution for a minor offence
Flora is 25. She was cautioned for shoplifting in 2012.
This caution will not be filtered. Flora was over 18 when cautioned. Her caution is eligible to be filtered in 2018, six years after the caution.
Under 18 – caution for a minor offence
Guy is 20. He was cautioned for shoplifting in 2010.
This caution will be filtered because Guy was under 18 when cautioned and over two years have passed since the caution.
Caution and conviction for minor offences (under 18 and adult)
Helga is 21. She was cautioned for shoplifting in 2010. She committed another offence in 2011. She was convicted and fined £100.
The caution will not be disclosed as Helga was under 18 when cautioned. Her separate conviction will be filtered in 2022, provided she has no further convictions.
Irene is 22. She received an informed warning for theft in 2010 and a caution for burglary in 2011.
None of this information will be on her check even though she has more than one offence. This is because unlike convictions, more than one caution or informed warning can be filtered. Neither is on the specified list and more than two years have passed since the caution and one year since the informed warning.
Other information on a standard or enhanced check
Filtering does not remove information about your criminal history from your record. It simply means that certain details are not shown on your AccessNI check.
Sometimes AccessNI filters a caution or conviction but the offence appears on your certificate under “other information”. This happens when police believe a caution or conviction might be relevant to a job and should be disclosed on your certificate.
Independent review of criminal record information
In some cases, before a disclosure certificate is issued, AccessNI will ask for an independent review of criminal record information due to be disclosed. The review will be completed by a person separate from AccessNI, called the Independent Reviewer.
If you were under 18 at time of your conviction(s), those convictions are now spent and there is no information on adult offences, any criminal record information found will automatically be sent for an independent review.
As part of the review, the Independent Reviewer may write to you to ask if you would like to say anything about the disclosure of this information. If you do decide to give information for the review, you will have 14 days to reply. The letter from the Independent Reviewer will tell you how to do this.
The Independent Reviewer may also ask for more information from the police, probation board or the Youth Justice Agency.
Once the Reviewer has considered all the relevant information a decision will be taken to issue the certificate with either:
- all the criminal record information held about you
- some but not all of the criminal record information held about you
- none of the criminal record information held about you
AccessNI will write to you and tell you the Independent Reviewer's decision and your certificate will be issued.
If you are not happy with the decision, you can raise an appeal with AccessNI and ask for the certificate to be considered by the Independent Monitor. The decision of the Independent Monitor is final.
More information on the Independent Reviewer and Independent Monitor can be found on the Department of Justice website.