East Antrim Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs has welcomed news that the Justice Minister plans to introduce a new service known as “update” for AccessNI applicants, which will reduce bureaucracy and costs, before the end of the year.
Mr Beggs said:
“I know myself how bureaucratic the current process is whereby an individual who is applying for a job or as a youth volunteer, has to go through a new AccessNI application for every role that volunteers may assist with. For example, this could mean that a youth worker with the Education Authority, who also volunteers with the BB, GB and a local youth club, would require four separate AccessNI applications. The new plan would provide a rolling update to the service which employers and youth organisations would have access to. This move will provide a more streamlined service for AccessNI certificates, reducing the cost and paperwork involved.”
The Justice Minister said “You (Mr Beggs) have asked what plans are in place to ‘remove this costly bureaucracy’, but continue to provide protection for vulnerable groups. This is a matter of concern to me and I have, since taking up post as justice Minister, raised this with my officials… The Justice Act (NI) 2015 makes provision to enable AccessNI to offer applicants the option of having a certificate that can be updated by joining what will be known as the Update service. At present, I plan to introduce this service before the end of this year, but it is dependent on a number of external factors and we are relying on the Disclosure and Barring Service in England and Wales to help us deliver this.”
Roy Beggs, a member of Stormont’s Justice Committee added “The change to the AccessNI service will mean that employers will be able to conduct a free online check to see if information from previous certificates has changed. Applicants who pay for their disclosure checks will have to pay a fee of £13 per annum to join the new ‘Update Service’, but this could prove more affordable than having to obtain a new certificate for each new employment. I am advised that volunteers, who are currently not charged for an AccessNI check will also be able to apply to join the service and will not have to pay this fee.”