Justice Minister Claire Sugden MLA has announced an extension to AccessNI criminal records checks in some EU countries.
The change now allows AccessNI to check whether applicants coming from a number of EU countries who want to work with children in Northern Ireland, have criminal records in their home countries.
Working in partnership with ACRO Criminal Records Office, AccessNI will, where the applicant comes from Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania or Spain, check whether he or she has a UK criminal record and whether they also have a record in their home country.
Minister Sugden said: “This extension builds upon a pilot project to obtain criminal record information about applicants from Latvia and Holland. Following the pilot, I have decided to continue with these checks but to focus on those EU countries where most of our applicants come from.”
Employers can continue to obtain a certificate of good conduct from any country that any AccessNI applicant may come from. However, for the countries within the scope of this project, AccessNI will automatically, with the help of ACRO, obtain any criminal record information available and if relevant, disclose this on AccessNI certificates.
Minister Sugden continued: “This scheme will add to the safeguarding arrangements already in place by providing further reassurance to those employers that comprehensive checks have taken place to ensure that applicants are suitable for this work. If successful, I will consider extending the project to other EU states.”
ACRO Senior Manager Lucy Saunders said: “We’re pleased to have been part of this pilot with AccessNI which has developed the way in which we use criminal records information to protect the public.
“As a national police unit, ACRO’s mission is to keep communities safe in the UK and across the world. I’m sure the information we return to AccessNI from other European countries will prove massively beneficial to, and help reassure, organisations that support children when making decisions about who to employ.
“ACRO is the UK’s Central Authority for the Exchange of Criminal Records Information with other EU Member States, a responsibility that is delegated to us and a role we take extremely seriously. We manage hundreds of thousands of criminal records on a yearly basis and we do so effectively and securely.”