Here we'll provide regular updates on how to process AccessNI applications and the latest guidance received from AccessNI; we hope you find this information useful.

Eligibility for Digital Certificates – From the implementation of 17th July 2018 the default position is that all certificates, for all levels of disclosure, will be issued electronically provided the following fundamental requirements are met:-

  • The disclosure application must have been submitted via the on-line portal, using an applicant’s NIDA (Northern Ireland Data Account) account. This is because Digital Certificates are issued to the specific NIDA account. It is imperative therefore that applicants wishing to receive Digital Certificates create a personal NIDA account before they commence their online application.  These guidelines are detailed on the PIN Notification & ID Validation forms.
  • A new field has been incorporated into the application process, which, if selected by the applicant, will result in a paper certificate. Step 8 ‘Delivery Details’, the default position is to issue certificates electronically, unless a paper certificate is requested, the applicant can choose the address for certificate delivery.
  • Some organisations may input applicant’s details onto the online application, on the applicant’s behalf. The process requires an applicant to complete a paper form, which is then transcribed onto the online application by the employer. With the introduction of Digital Certificates, it is advised that organisations who are using this practice cease completing online applications on behalf of applicants and instead encourage applicants to create their own NIDA account.
  • The Disclosure certificate must have no criminal history information present to be made available digitally; at present some 95% of all certificates have no information on them. Certificates that contain criminal history information will continue to be issued through the postal service.
  • If an application has been submitted on paper, a Digital Certificate cannot be issued, as no NIDA account has been created for the applicant.

Once the digital certificate is issued, the applicant’s account will record ‘View Share’ on the ‘My applications’ screen.  The applicant can click on the link to view their certificate.  The applicant can also click the link to ‘Share’ a copy of the digital certificate by entering an email address for the intended recipient.  This function is only available for 3 days once the recipient has received the email.  The applicant will be able to ‘re-share’ their certificate (if required) after the 3 days have expired.  If the disclosure certificate is not issued electronically by AccessNI (either because information is disclosed or because a paper certificate has been requested), the ‘Share’ link will not be displayed on the applicant’s case tracking.

The ARC Disclosure Service will continue to email the results of all applications to the respective organisations.  We will still advise organisations to request applicants provide a copy of their certificate, either digitally or on paper.

AccessNI has now published its Privacy Notice in line with the new General Data Protection Regulations. You can find this at: https://www.justice-ni.gov.uk/publications/accessni-privacy-notice.  This notice contains information not only about how we use and process the personal information provided by applicants but also in relation to how AccessNI processes and stores the personal information of Lead and Countersignatories.

AccessNI is regularly contacting Countersignatories in respect of additional information which is required in respect of Spanish, Portuguese and French nationals.

You can help us by including on your applications to us, the following:-

  • Spanish nationals – their name should comprise of two family names.
  • Portuguese nationals – their full name should comprise of two forenames and two family names.
  • French nationals – if their place of birth is Paris, Lyon or Marseille then a district code is also required and should be added to the town of birth field on the application. The district is displayed on a passport or identity document in the following format “Paris 1er”, “Lyon 2eme” – this reads as either “Paris 1st”, “Lyon 2nd”. It is only the number that requires to be recorded on the application.

In addition, the parent’s forename and surname are also required for French nationals. We recommend that the application is processed as normal, but that this information, using the case reference number and name of applicant, is separately emailed to the ARC Disclosure Service ([email protected]).
Providing this information will prevent any unnecessary delay with the issue of the Enhanced Disclosure certificate.

AccessNI will also check criminal records of some EU citizens in their home countries.  This will happen where the applicant:

  • holds French, German, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovakian or Spanish nationality; and
  • is seeking to work with children in Northern Ireland; and
  • a check needs to be made of the list of those not allowed to work with children.

AccessNI will not only check UK criminal records, but also make a request for the applicant’s criminal record to be checked in their home country.  If there is any additional information available, this will be disclosed in the AccessNI certificate.

Organisations registered and listed as an Umbrella Body with AccessNI should always clarify with client organisations how a “position applied for” is eligible for an Enhanced Disclosure certificate.
It is not sufficient for an organisation to state that an Enhanced Disclosure check is required.

You must confirm to us how the position is eligible under AccessNI Regulations.

AccessNI has recently updated the Identity Checking guidance documentation available on the NI Direct website.  These new arrangements come into effect immediately.

The purpose of these changes is to ensure that the details on the application forms match the documents provided by the applicant.  It is one of the key safeguards to enable AccessNI to reconcile individual applicants to criminal record information or to identify if the Police may have information about that individual, or in the case of those working most closely with vulnerable groups, whether they are barred for such work.

The requirement to check than an individual has the right to work in the UK is still in place.  Where individuals have no right to work in the UK, it is not only a breach of law but, could lead to vulnerable groups in the community being put at risk.

In light of Brexit, AccessNI has updated the identity checking guidance and list of acceptable documents which are now available to use.  Details of these changes can be found by following the link below:

https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/sites/default/files/2021-07/accessni-applications-identity-checking-list-of-acceptable-documents-july-2021_5.pdf

The specific key changes are as follows:

  • The removal of EEA from the list of acceptable documents
  • A link to the Right to Work has been provided in the list of acceptable documents
  • An update to review identification documents using live video link as detailed in the guidance document
  • The removal of the Annex providing a list of EEA countries
  • Added additional details on the Primary Documents for applicants who are not UK or Irish Nationals

If you are submitting an application for a volunteer in a role which requires a standard or enhanced check, AccessNI will provide the check free to a volunteer, 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.”

AccessNI charges for a standard or enhanced check if:

  • an applicant is volunteering directly for a statutory organisation
  • an applicant is volunteering for a non-profit organisation in a position which delivers statutory services under contract or in a specific project, where that organisation receives government funding to pay for volunteers’ checks

A statutory organisation is an agency established by government. A not-for-profit organisation is a non-governmental body which does not distribute its surplus funds to owners or shareholders.

To find out more about information disclosed at different levels of AccessNI checks, including why some offences may not appear on Disclosure Certificates, please see full guidance on the AccessNI website.

Unless there is a bar, a conviction should not automatically disqualify an individual. An employer should consider if a conviction is relevant to the post.

Sometimes the applicant is committing an offence by applying for the post. An individual on one or both of the Disclosure and Barring Service’s barred lists is breaking the law if they apply to work in regulated activity.

For more information on employing someone with a conviction and the Disclosure and Barring Service visit the following NIdirect page.