If you apply for certain jobs or voluntary positions, you might need an AccessNI check. You will be told when a basic, standard or enhanced check is necessary. Individuals can apply for basic checks. Only an employer registered with AccessNI can apply for standard and enhanced checks (with, or without, barred list checks).

Legislative basis 

The Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) (Disclosure) is the legislation that allows for an enhanced criminal record check for those engaged in regulated activities with children and vulnerable adults. 

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (Northern Ireland) Order 2007, ('SVGO') as amended (in particular, by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012) sets out the activities and work that are ‘regulated activities’, which a person who has been barred by the Disclosure and Barring Service must not do.

Vetting is carried out in Northern Ireland if a member of Church personnel engages in a regulated activity (Section 3.2). An enhanced check can disclose non-conviction information or ‘soft intelligence’ if the police consider it is relevant to the role. This could be an incident that did not go to court, or information about an ongoing police investigation.

An enhanced check also includes a barred list check for anyone applying to do paid or voluntary work that is a regulated activity. A barred list check involves checking whether the individual is part of barred lists of people who are prevented from doing certain types of work. 

Regulated activity with children

A child is defined by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Order (SVGO) as anyone who has not attained the age of eighteen years.

Article 9 Regulated Activity

Article 9 provides that regulated activity relating to children and vulnerable adults is as set out in Schedule 2 of the SVGO. Regulated activity broadly speaking includes work (paid or unpaid) which involves certain close contact with children or vulnerable adults.

Schedule 2 Regulated activity relating to children 

Part I defines regulated activity in relation to children for which individuals need to be monitored and where employers must make a check of their status.

Part II defines regulated activity in relation to vulnerable adults for which individuals need to be monitored and where employers must make a check of their status

The amended definition of  'regulated activity'  comprises:

Regulated activity excludes family arrangements, and personal, non-commercial arrangements.

Some relevant conditions:

An activity is a regulated activity relating to children if

The period condition is satisfied if the person carrying out the activity does so at any time on more than three days in any period of 30 days. The period condition is also satisfied (in the case of no. 1, 2 & 3 above) if the person carrying out the activity does so at any time between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m, and the activity gives the person the opportunity to have face-to-face contact with children.

Article 10 Regulated Activity Providers

Article 10 defines a “regulated activity provider” for the purpose of the SVGO, on whom a number of obligations are imposed by its other provisions. A regulated activity provider is an individual or organisation responsible for the management or control of regulated activity, who makes arrangements for a person to engage in that activity. 

The regulated activity providers will be those with the ultimate responsibility for the regulated activity, not every individual in the management chain will be responsible for making the check of a person’s status. 

There is no need for a contract to be in place for an individual or body to be a regulated activity provider, and the definition applies to both paid and unpaid work.

A person (P) is a regulated activity provider 

P is not a regulated activity provider if he is an individual and the arrangements he makes are private arrangements. 

Arrangements are private arrangements if 

It is immaterial whether P is also acting in any capacity other than as a family member or friend.

Article 11 Barred persons

Article 11 makes it an offence for a barred person to seek to, offer to or engage in regulated activity, even where that activity takes place occasionally or for a short period of time. It would be a defence if the person can prove that he did not know, and could not reasonably be expected to know, that he was barred.

Church-based activities

The bishops of Northern Ireland have established a Central Northern Dioceses Vetting Office, which processes all vetting applications to AccessNI for persons engaged in regulated activities on behalf of Northern dioceses. 

The Vetting and Barring Co-Ordinator acts as the authorised signatory, and makes decisions about fitness for roles based on the returned disclosure. 

An application is completed by the local safeguarding representative and forwarded to the Central Northern Dioceses Vetting Office for processing. 

As the requirements in vetting have been amended, staff in the vetting office can provide advice and support in deciding which check is required for Church personnel.

Visiting individuals in a Residential Care or Nursing Home, on behalf of the Catholic Church, regardless of the role (which may include distributing Holy Communion), will continue to be vetted under AccessNI’s pre 2012 legislation, as Residential Care and Nursing Homes are defined as “Specified Establishments” within the legislation. It is therefore only in these circumstances that a Minister of Holy Communion can be vetted.

As before, a Minister of Holy Communion, assisting a priest in the Church during Mass DOES NOT require to be vetted as this is NOT a “Regulated Activity.” Vetting for this role will not be carried out.

Access NI have informed the D&C Vetting Office that distributing Holy Communion to the Sick & Housebound in their own home, is NOT a “Regulated Activity”. Vetting for this role can therefore no longer be carried out.

Andy Thomson, Vetting and Barring Co-Ordinator 

Down & Connor Safeguarding & Vetting Office

120 Cliftonville Road


BT14 6LA

Contact Us:

Safeguarding: 028 9049 2798

E-mail: office@soddc.org

Vetting: 028 9049 2783

E-mail: vetting@soddc.org

Registered bodies with AccessNI

When an organisation applies to become a registered body, AccessNI checks:

AccessNI can impose penalties on a registered body that breaks the conditions of registration.

Umbrella bodies for AccessNI applications

If an employer needs less than 20 checks in a year, they can use an umbrella body to make applications to AccessNI. Most umbrella bodies charge fees for their services. An umbrella body is a registered body that manages standard and enhanced checks for non-registered organisations, generally (open) or in a particular sector (closed). 

When an employer requires an AccessNI check

Employers are responsible for knowing when a job or volunteering role requires an AccessNI check. There are three levels of check:

An employer can ask all job applicants to apply for a basic check during the recruitment process.

You must be 16 years of age or older to get a basic, standard or enhanced check. You must apply for these checks through an AccessNI-registered body.

The only exception is for family members of an applicant, under 16, where the applicant is registering as a childminder or wants to adopt or foster a child.

To read more about different levels of checks and how to apply, go to:

If you’re self employed

You can only apply for a basic check. You cannot get a standard or enhanced check because these checks must be submitted through a registered body.

If you’re a volunteer

You can apply for a basic check. You or the voluntary organisation must pay the fee. If you're a volunteer in a role needs a standard or enhanced check, in some cases AccessNI will provide the check for free. For more information, go to:

Working with children and vulnerable adults

If you apply for a job or volunteer in a role providing services to, or having close and regular supervision of children or vulnerable adults, usually you'll need an enhanced check. An enhanced check must be applied for through a registered body. The organisation or body you are working for will tell you what to do.

If the position is home based, registered bodies must say this on the application. You have a home based role if you:

Home based roles include:

Disclosure certificates

When AccessNI searches and checks your criminal history, they provide a disclosure certificate with any criminal records. Unspent convictions appear on a basic disclosure certificate. Cautions, spent and unspent convictions appear on a standard or enhanced certificate.

A clean criminal history is described as “no information found”.

When your disclosure certificate is issued

Only you will receive a copy of the disclosure certificate unless you gave AccessNI permission to send it to your employer. 

For online disclosure applications submitted through registered or responsible bodies, AccessNI will update the case tracking service that you and your employer can see.

When a disclosure certificate is valid 

Your disclosure certificate is valid during the recruitment process for a specific role or job. Information about your criminal record history is accurate on the day the certificate was issued.

You can't transfer a disclosure certificate from one role to another.

If you think there’s information on your certificate that shouldn’t be there or is incorrect, you can raise a dispute with AccessNI

Lost or damaged disclosure certificates

If you lose or damage your disclosure certificate, you can ask AccessNI to reprint it for you, as long it is within 90 days of the certificate being issued. A reprint is free.

If 90 days have passed, you will need a fresh criminal history check for a new disclosure certificate. You or your employer will need to pay for the second check.

Asking police for criminal records

If you're already an employee or you're applying for a job, the employer mustn't ask you to get your criminal history from the police. It is an offence for an employer to do this. If employers need to check criminal history information, they must use  AccessNI.

More useful links

Contact AccessNI

Contact the AccessNI customer helpline to get advice or help with an application by phone on 0300 200 7888.

Enhanced check

An enhanced check discloses an individual’s full criminal record, giving:

Some old and minor convictions and non-court disposals on a criminal record may be filtered. Fixed penalty tickets or parking fines aren't included in an enhanced check.

Enhanced checks are normally required where the applicant will work or volunteer in a role providing services to or having close and regular supervision of children  or vulnerable adults.  

An individual cannot apply for an enhanced check. An application for an enhanced check must be counter-signed by an AccessNI-registered organisation.

You must be 16 years old or over to get an enhanced check.  The only exception is for family members of an applicant, under 16, where the applicant is registering as a childminder or wants to adopt or foster a child.

Apply online for an enhanced check through a registered body

You need an nidirect account to apply online for an enhanced check. You can only apply if the organisation that asked you to get the check gave you a personal identification number (PIN). Your application must be approved by the AccessNI-registered organisation before sending to AccessNI for processing.

Before you start

When you create your nidirect account, you’ll receive a confirmation email immediately. Once you activate your account you can log in and apply for an enhanced check. You’ll need:

AccessNI account

If you created an AccessNI account before 17 July 2018, you can't use this to apply for a check. You must create an nidirect account and log in to apply. You can link your AccessNI account to your nidirect account. Log in to your nidirect account and follow the instructions for linking accounts.

Disclosure certificate

If you have no criminal history to disclose, you’ll receive a digital disclosure certificate. You can view the certificate from your nidirect account.  If the certificate discloses criminal record or other information or you requested a paper copy, you’ll receive a printed certificate by post.  

To send a copy of your digital certificate to an employer, select the share button on your nidirect account and include their email address.  When you share your disclosure certificate with someone, it will only be visible to them for three days.

Privacy notice

To find out how personal information you send to AccessNI will be handled when using this service, go to:  

Create or log in to an nidirect account or apply for an enhanced check

(external link opens in a new window / tab)

Additional information

When you apply online for an enhanced check, you’ll get an email confirming the registered organisation received your application for approval. When your application is approved, AccessNI will process it.

To track your application’s progress, log in to your nidirect account.

Accessibility statement

To find out how accessible the nidirect AccessNI service is and what is being done to improve accessibility, see accessibility statement for AccessNI.

More useful links