Police certificates are issued to individuals wanting to either obtain a visa or to emigrate to a certain country. This document specifies whether the applicant has a criminal record or not in the UK. This certificate is required by relevant embassies or high commissions for their visa process.
The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) ACRO Criminal Record Office are the administration who issue police certificates. The document will not only be watermarked but it will contain an ‘ACRO Criminal Records Office’ hologram on the certificate.
Legalisation processing will require a dated and signed certificate with a wet ink signature of an ACRO/NPCC official. Otherwise, they can be certified with an original wet ink signature of either a practicing solicitor or notary public in the UK. This can be done either on the original document or a cover sheet can be attached onto the document securely.
You can apply for a police ACRO through the following below:
Details of people, crimes, property, and vehicles are held on the Police National Computer (PNC) which can be accessed electronically by the police, criminal justice organisations, government departments and criminal records disclosure services.
For legalisation purposes a photocopy, scan or PDF file will not be suitable; only original documents will be accepted.
Individuals may wish to print disclosure documents straight from the DBS websites, however these should not be legalised as they are not for official use.
An individual’s criminal record copy is known as a disclosure document. There are three categories of checks that can be requested: (1) basic, (2) enhanced and (3) enhanced with barred lists.
A disclosure document can be requested from Access Northern Ireland, Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) for England and Wales, and Disclosure Scotland.
An Access Northern Ireland document will not be signed by an official when it is issued. The applicant will need to state that the document will be submitted for legalisation to get the signature. This document will have a watermark running through the document and will be on headed paper.
For legalisation purposes the original document is required to be dated and signed with an original wet ink signature by an official from ANI. Alternatively, the document can be certified with an original wet ink signature of either a practicing solicitor or notary public in the UK. This can be done either on the original document or a cover sheet can be attached onto the document securely.
A DBS will not contain a signature of an official. These documents will be produced with a watermark on headed paper.
For legalisation, a DBS document will require certifying with an original wet ink signature of either a practicing solicitor or notary public in the UK. This can be done either on the original document or a cover sheet can be attached onto the document securely.
A Disclosure Scotland document is issued on headed paper containing a watermark through the page. The watermark will contain an image of the Scottish flag and will have ‘The Scottish Government’ affixed along with it. An applicant will need to state that the document is to be used for legalisation purposes if they require a signature by a DS official.
The original document is required to be dated and signed with an original wet ink signature by an official from DS for it be used for legalisation purposes. It can otherwise be certified with an original wet ink signature of either a practicing solicitor or notary public in the UK. This can be done either on the original document or a cover sheet can be attached onto the document securely.
The ACRO document will state one result from the below table of possible results in a police certificate.
|NO TRACE||You have NO convictions, cautions, final warnings, or reprimands recorded on the PNC|
|SUMMARY OFCONVICTIONS||You have a criminal record, and all your convictions are shown on your certificate|
|NO LIVE TRACE||You have a criminal record; however this information does not appear on the certificate because it has been stepped down*|
|FURTHERINFORMATIONSTEPPED DOWN||You have a criminal record; however only relevant criminal record information appears on the certificate because some convictions have been stepped down|
* The step-down method is used by the ACRO office when a previous criminal record is no longer necessary. More information about ACRO Step-Down Model.
If an applicant is being investigated in relation to a criminal offence, the document will contain an impending prosecution. It may be stated that the individual is ‘under investigation’.
A subject access request (SAR) is an individual’s lawful right to access personal information that is held about them on police computers. This can be requested to get a copy of personal data held about an applicant on the police database. The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) ACRO Criminal Records Office are the team that generally issue SARs. In should be noted that certain police forces in Northern Ireland, England and Wales may issue their own SARs. Individual forces in Scotland will deal with a subject access request themselves – issued on Police Scotland letter headed paper.
For the purpose of legalisation, the SAR will need to be dated and must have a wet ink signature of an official from ACRO, NPCC or a police force. It can also be signed by a Public Access Officer, Police Scotland Disclosure Officer, Data Protection Officer/Assistant, Information Management Unit or Crime Scene Investigator.
The document can also be certified as an original document with the original wet ink signature of a UK solicitor or notary public. This can be done directly on the document or by affixing a cover sheet onto the document. If a PDF document is being issued, a practising solicitor/notary will need to certify the document as a true copy of the original.
A SAR can also be issued by the National Identification Service (NIS) and the National Crime Agency (NCA).
A subject access request issued by the NIS must be submitted for legalisation with the original document signed which will need to be dated and bear the signature of an official from the NIS. Certification by a practising solicitor or notary public will also be accepted by the Foreign Office.
A subject access request issued by the NCA can be submitted for legalisation with either the original or photocopied document. It must be certified by a practising solicitor or notary public in order for it to be acceptable for an Apostille stamp.