Ford launches consultation on criminal records

Date published: 18 June 2015

Justice Minister, David Ford, has launched a consultation on draft guidance for the operation of a review mechanism of AccessNI’s criminal records filtering scheme.

David Ford said: “The review mechanism is one of a number of provisions in the Justice Bill designed to modernise and improve the arrangements for criminal record checks carried out by Northern Ireland’s disclosure service, AccessNI. It aims to strike an appropriate balance between the protection of those in our society who are vulnerable, and the need to support the rehabilitation of adults and young people who have offended.”

At present AccessNI can, in certain circumstances, remove convictions or other information from a standard or enhanced criminal record disclosure certificate before it is issued.   This is known as filtering. A new review mechanism will allow an individual to seek a review of the information remaining on a certificate, after the filtering process has been applied.

The review will be conducted by someone independent of AccessNI and government. The draft guidance is designed to inform the work of the reviewer, and to provide information to anyone with an interest in this issue. It sets out the detail of how the review mechanism will operate, including its scope and the steps involved, as well as the role of the independent reviewer and others in the process.

David Ford: “Those who have been involved in minor offending should, where possible, be given the opportunity to move on with their lives and make a positive contribution to society. I believe that the filtering review mechanism will ensure that disclosure is proportionate, only disclosing information on offending where that is relevant and appropriate.”

The Department is keen to hear from all those who have an interest in this issue, including those organisations whose functions or activities include supporting those who may wish to use the review mechanism.

Notes to editors: 

1. The consultation will run from 18 June 2015 to 24 September 2015.

2. View the draft guidance at the consultation section.

3. All enquiries should be sent to

4. The Justice Bill makes provision for amendments to the Police Act 1997 to allow for an independent review in relation to information disclosed on the standard and enhanced criminal record certificates issued by AccessNI after the filtering process has been applied.

5. For all media enquiries, please contact the DOJ Press Office on 028 9052 6444. Out of hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.

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