Information disclosed in a criminal record check

A basic, standard or enhanced AccessNI check will disclose different types of information about your criminal record history to an employer. Some cautions, fines, offences and spent convictions won't appear. But convictions for certain crimes stay unspent and will always appear on your record.

Different levels of check and disclosures

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 and police records held locally.  To work with children and vulnerable adults, the check may include information held by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)
Level of check unspent convictions spent convictions barred lists relevant police information caution
Basic yes no no no no
Standard yes yes no no yes
Enhanced yes yes yes yes yes

Penalties and fines excluded from checks

A criminal record check doesn't include:

  • a fixed penalty charge
  • a parking fine
  • some motoring offences
  • a fine for not having a TV licence

Types of criminal record information

Informed warning

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 young people under 18 years old.

Caution

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  that might divert the young person from criminal behaviour. The diversionary conference stays on their record for two years after the date accepted.

Conviction

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're still in your rehabilitation period following a criminal conviction, your conviction is unspent.  Any custodial sentence over two and a half years stays 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 doesn't include spent convictions.

Sentence rehabilitation period
Over 30 months in prison never spent
Over six months but less than 30 months in prison ten years (five years if convicted and person is under18)
Less than six months in prison seven years (three and a half years if person is under 18 when convicted)
Fine or community service order five years (two and a half years if person is under 18 when convicted)
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 when convicted)

Spent sentences are listed below:

  • 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 believe it's relevant to the role you’re applying for and that it should to be disclosed. This could be:

  • an incident that didn't go to court
  • information about an ongoing police investigation

If police disclose information on your certificate but you think it isn't relevant or shouldn't be 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.

To read about roles that are regulated, go to:

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)
  • a conviction for trying to commit a specified offence
  • a conviction for encouraging or helping someone else commit a specified offence

Specified offences

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 convicted.

Specified offences include:

  • murder, manslaughter, kidnap, hijack, money laundering
  • violence
  • sexual crimes
  • safeguarding or child protection matters

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 equal to any on the specified list.

Filtered offences 

AccessNI filters information about certain convictions and offences.

Conviction 18 or over at time of conviction Under 18 at time of conviction
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 records explain when filtering applies to cautions or convictions for minor offences. Real people's names aren't used.

Old and minor offence – conviction and fine

Arnold is 52. He was convicted and fined £50 for common assault in 2006. He didn't serve prison time or get 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 2005. In 2006 she was convicted and fined £100 for shoplifting. She didn't serve prison time or get 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.

Young person under 18 – conviction and fine for an old offence

Cole is 24. He was convicted of common assault in 2011 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.

Young person under 18 - conviction and suspended prison sentence

Delia is 24. She was convicted of common assault in 2011. 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 2004. 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 2013.

This caution will not be filtered. Flora was over 18 when cautioned. Her caution is eligible to be filtered in 2019, six years after the caution.

Under 18 – caution for a minor offence

Guy is 20. He was cautioned for shoplifting in 2015.

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.

Informed warning and a caution

Irene is 22. She received an informed warning for theft in 2015 and a caution for burglary in 2016.

She has two offences but none of this information will be on her check. Unlike convictions, more than one caution or informed warning can be filtered. The offences aren't on the specified list. 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 doesn't remove information about your criminal history from your record. It means certain details aren't 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

Sometimes before a disclosure certificate is issued, AccessNI will ask for an independent review of criminal record information. An independent reviewer will do the review. The reviewer isn't employed by AccessNI.

If you were under 18 when convicted, the conviction is now spent and there is no information on adult offences, any criminal record information will go to an independent reviewer.

They'll write and ask if you want to say anything about the disclosure of this information. If you want to give information to the reviewer, you have 14 days to reply.

The independent reviewer might also ask for more information from:

  • police
  • the probation board
  • the Youth Justice Agency

Once the reviewer considers all the relevant information, they'll issue a certificate with: 

  • 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 and tell you the independent reviewer's decision and your certificate will be issued.

If you  disagree with the decision, you can raise an appeal with AccessNI and ask for the certificate to be considered by the Independent Monitor.  The Independent Monitor's decision is final.

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