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AccessNI

Volume 485: debated on Thursday 18 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the nature is of the implementation issues experienced by AccessNI upon taking over background checks from the Police Service of Northern Ireland on 1 April 2008. (244809)

Initially, AccessNI did not have sufficient staff to cope with the applications received. These problems have now been resolved and AccessNI is meeting all its service standards.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what work was undertaken by AccessNI in conjunction with other bodies in the UK to establish best practice prior to taking over the background checks form the Police Service of Northern Ireland. (244810)

AccessNI was established through a joint programme that comprised representatives from the Northern Ireland Office, the Department of Education, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

The programme team consulted with the Criminal Records Bureau and Disclosure Scotland.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what work has been undertaken to rectify the implementation issues experienced by AccessNI upon taking over background checks from the Police Service of Northern Ireland; and what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of such work. (244811)

Additional staff have been appointed and the working hours extended. As a result of these actions I can confirm that AccessNI is now meeting its service standards.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what (a) resources and (b) personnel have been made available to Access NI in its first year of operation; and what assessment he has made of AccessNI's ability to perform the functions it assumed from the Police Service of Northern Ireland regarding background checks. (245142)

AccessNI was established on 1 April 2008 and has been in operation for less than nine months. All necessary resources to enable AccessNI to achieve its service targets have been made available. This has included additional staffing, including both permanent and temporary, the creation of overtime at weekends and evenings and the provision of additional accommodation.

Initially AccessNI had a total of 22 staff but due to the heavier than expected workload this number increased to its current total of 57 (or 63 if Identity and Passport Service Staff are included). This number includes both permanent and temporary staff.

It is important to note that while criminal history searches for certain posts had previously been carried out by the PSNI, the checks carried out now are more stringent than in the past.

I am pleased to report that AccessNI is now meeting all of its service standards.