Glossary of Information
Access NI (Access Northern Ireland) supplies criminal history information to organisations and individuals, mainly to help make safe recruitment decisions. Some organisations or certain positions are required by law to consider the suitability of applicants to ensure that they are not barred from working with vulnerable groups either adult or child.
Enhanced Access NI checks may contain ‘additional’ information. Occasionally the Chief Police Officer may, if thought necessary in the interests of the prevention or detection of crime, release ‘additional’ information to the Countersignatory only, in the form of a separate letter and should not be revealed to the applicant.
Enhanced Access NI checks may contain ‘approved’ information. This is non-conviction information provided by the police from their local records. The Chief Police Officer in each force will decide what, if any, information to provide and similarly for DBS, previously called Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) will print this information on both the applicant’s and the Countersignatory’s copy of the Criminal Records Disclosure certificate.
A caution is a formal warning about future conduct given by a senior police officer, usually in a police station, after an individual has committed a criminal offence. This procedure is used as an alternative to a criminal charge and subsequent possible prosecution.
An individual within a Registered Body who is registered with the Access NI to countersign applications and receive the Disclosure, this is usually an authorised individual at United Medicare Limited.
Countersignatory reference number
The specific reference number allocated to each individual Countersignatory by the Access NI.
A record of convictions held on the Police National Computer for individuals convicted of crimes.
Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF)
Government department responsible for improving the focus on all aspects of policy affecting children and young people, as part of the government’s aim to deliver educational excellence (formerly the Department for Education and Skills).
Enforced Subject Access
Under current legislation, individuals can exercise their right to apply for access to information held on them including criminal record information under the 'subject access' provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998. Currently, some employers seek to obtain this information about employees and potential employees by compelling them to exercise their rights under the Data Protection Act. This process is known as 'Enforced Subject Access' and is undesirable because details of all convictions are revealed. Most employers are not entitled to ask for this information under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974.
Enhanced Access NI checks
Enhanced Access NI checks are for posts involving greater contact with children or other vulnerable adults. Such work involves regularly caring for, supervising, training or being in sole charge of these people. As well as all of the information contained in a Standard Disclosure, Enhanced Access NI checks may also contain information that is held locally by the police. Most healthcare worker and other Care Workers and those in care of Children would need this level of check.
This is an individual who has been convicted of a criminal offence and whose crime is now “spent” under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974.
The Exceptions Order to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 sets out those occupations and positions exempt from the provisions of the ROA. These are generally positions of trust; where there is a valid need to see an individual's full criminal history in order to assess their suitability for a position. This information is intended as general guidance only. It must not be regarded as a definitive interpretation of the Act. Anyone requesting further guidance should seek legal advice.
An exempted question is a valid request for any individual to reveal their full criminal history (including spent convictions) and is made possible by virtue of the Exceptions Order to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974.
For how long will Access NI or DBS checks be valid?
Each Access NI Disclosure or check will show the date on which it was issued. Access NI checks do not carry a pre-determined period of validity because a conviction or other matter could be recorded against the subject of the Disclosure at any time after it is issued.
A senior figure within a Registered Body who has overall responsibility for the use of the Access NI checks in their organisation, this is Dr M. Thiagarajan (Director).
Local Police Records
Police records, not held on the Police National Computer (PNC), containing non-conviction information.
A crime reduction charity, making society safer by finding practical solutions to reducing crime. Since 1966 NACRO has worked to give ex-offenders, disadvantaged people, and deprived communities the help they need to build a better future. They are committed to reducing crime by also helping ex-offenders back into society since there are many disadvantages for them.
Police Act 1997
The piece of legislation that brought about by the DBS which was previously called the CRB.
Police National Computer (PNC)
A national police database that contains information about criminal records i.e. convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings.
Portability refers to the re-use of an Access NI check or Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS), previously called the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) Disclosure, obtained for a position in one organisation and later used for another position in another organisation. This practice has not been endorsed by the DBS or Access NI due to the risks factors involved in the past but this is to be changed soon to allow this feature.
Organisations that have registered directly with the Access NI or DBS or Disclosure Scotland to use its services but there is lower Access NI criteria limit for number of Access NI checks above which an organisation is expected to perform to continue a registered body.
Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 enables some criminal convictions to become 'spent' after a 'rehabilitation period'. The latter is a set length of time from the date of conviction. After this period, with certain exceptions, an ex-offender is not normally obliged to mention the conviction when applying for a job or obtaining insurance, or when involved in criminal or civil proceedings.
Rehabilitation Period for Access NI purposes
A rehabilitation period is a set length of time from the date of conviction. After this period, with certain exceptions, an ex-offender is not normally obliged to mention the conviction when applying for a job or obtaining insurance, or when involved in criminal or civil proceedings.
A reprimand has replaced the caution for young people aged under eighteen years of age. A young individual given a second formal warning about future conduct is given a final warning.
Standard Access NI Check
This is also referred to as a Standard Disclosure or Standard Access NI. These are primarily for posts that involve working in an environment around children or vulnerable adults. Standard Access NI checks may also be issued for people entering certain professions, such as members of the legal and accountancy professions or for an other example a Receptionist in a Doctors Surgery. The Standard check contains details of all convictions held on the Police National Computer (PNC) including current and 'spent' convictions as well as details of any cautions, reprimands or final warnings. If a position involves working with children, the Access NI check will indicate whether information is held on three government lists of those who are banned from working with children or the vulnerable.
Under current legislation, individuals can exercise their right to apply for access to information held on them including criminal record information under the 'subject access' provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998.
The Access NI defines a volunteer to be ‘a individual who performs any activity which involves spending time, unpaid (except for travelling and other approved out-of-pocket expenses), doing something which aims to benefit someone (individuals or groups) other than or in addition to close relatives’.
What is an 'unspent conviction'?
A conviction is described as unspent if the rehabilitation period associated with it has not yet lapsed. A rehabilitation period is a set length of time from the date of conviction, according to the sentence imposed.
Working with children
The definition of this term is in two parts:
A child care position within the meaning of the Protection of Children Act. The Criminal Justice and Court Services Act (CJCSA) 2000 replaces the original definition in the Protection of Children Act with 'regulated position' for the purposes of Part II of the 2000 Act. Within the 2000 Act, section 36 sets out what the regulated positions are for the purposes of Part II of the Act; or
A position in which employment or further employment is prohibited or restricted by regulations made under section 218 of the Education Reform Act 1988.