Tip of the Week

How long does our criminal record check take?

When you apply for or renew an SIA licence we check to see if you have a criminal record. We do this by submitting something called a 'disclosure request' to one of the UK‘s three disclosure bodies: Access NI (Northern Ireland), Disclosure Scotland and the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

There are some things that you can do to speed up the criminality check:

  • We may send you a disclosure request form for you to complete and return to us. If we do, please make sure that you follow the instructions we enclose with the form. If you don't and you complete the form incorrectly it will delay your application.
  • We may ask you to submit a disclosure request through the Access NI website. If we do, please make sure you ask for a standard disclosure. If you ask for a basic disclosure or an enhanced disclosure we will not be able to accept it. Also, you will be charged the fee that Access NI would normally charge us.
  • If you live overseas or you have spent six continuous months or more outside the UK within the last five years, visit the ‘Overseas Criminal Record Checks' page of our website before you apply. You will need to provide evidence of a criminal record check from the relevant country or countries and this can take time, so it is better to get this started before you apply.

Receiving your criminality disclosure is not the end of the process. Many of the other checks we do result in yes/no answers - for example:

  • Identity – you either are who you say you are, or you aren't.
  • Qualification – we either have a record of your qualification or we don't.

Our criminality checks are different, because the fact that you have a criminal record doesn't answer the question of whether we should grant you a licence. We need to look at what that record contains and assess it for patterns of behaviour and/or a potential risk to the public.

Assessing criminality is not something that can be done by a machine, so your application will be queued for review by one of our decisions officers. This will not happen straight away as we deal with c12,000 applications every month and we assess disclosures in the order in which we receive them.

This is why the criminality check can take longer than other parts of the licensing process.