Memorandum by the Police Federation
CRIMINAL RECORDS BUREAU
The Police Federation of England and Wales represents
approx. 124,000 officers, up to and including the rank of Chief
Inspector. We welcome the opportunity to respond to the Home Affairs
Committee on the setting up of the Criminal Records Bureau. We
wish to make it clear that we agree with the purpose of the CRB
to broaden access to criminal records, for the benefits and safeguards
this will have for society. However, there are some areas of concern,
which we will draw to the attention of the Committee.
(i) An "enhanced criminal record certificate"
is issued where an applicant will have access to "vulnerable
persons" and will always be disclosed to the applicant.
That certificate will provide
(a) Details of conviction and caution records
held for use by the Police.
(b) Information, which, in the Chief Officers
opinion, might be relevant for the purpose for which the certificate
has been provided.
(ii) This information may consist of factual
non-conviction evidence, for example, details of any arrests or
investigations, which did not result in the conviction of the
applicant and will be included on any certificate.
(iii) Additionally, If the Chief Officer
believes there is "non conviction evidence" that ought
to be disclosed, which, should not to be included on the certificate
"in the interest of the prevention or detection of crime"
(Section 115(8) Police Act 1997) then the disclosure may be made
to the registered body only. Such evidence may consist of intelligence
gathered or information received concerning the applicant or his
associates. We agree that such information should never be disclosed
to the applicant as it may jeopardize any future police operation
or prosecution of the applicant or his associates. However, we
have concerns regarding possible access to it at a later date,
under Data Protection legislation when stored by the registered
body. Access to such information can be denied under the Data
Protection legislation for the protection and detection of crime.
However, our legal advice is that this exemption will not apply
to the registered body because this will not be the purpose for
which they are processing the information. There is every possibility
that applicants will access, via the registered bodies, the "information"
provided by the police. If this becomes a reality then it will
be likely that Chief Officers will decline to provide the "information"
(i) There will be additional resourcing by
the police service to meet the demand, particularly, for the "enhanced
certificate" and the additional disclosure information to
the registered bodies. As most information and intelligence is
gathered and stored locally the burden will fall on Basic Command
Units. Our concern is that if additional funding is not made available,
operational policing staff will be sacrificed to source the demand;
(ii) The resourcing of the provision of such
information is essential to ensure accuracy, as applicants will
mount civil claims for loss of employment opportunity if the information
provided is inaccurate.
(i) Our experience is that people will often
use false or incorrect personal details to hide their identity.
Frequently, we resort to fingerprint examination to identify persons
in our custody, as simply changing a date of or place of birth
can avoid identification. The Police National Computer can search
descriptions of "scars, marks and tattoos" and, although
we have not had sight of any proposed application forms, our submission
is that they contain the following information to enable a thorough
search of the PNC:
Date/Place of birth, colour, height, hair colour/description,
build, marks/scars/tattoos, shoe size, left/right handed, wears
(ii) Further, for the enhanced disclosure
it is vital that the individual is positively identified because
of their access to "vulnerable persons" and the potential
trust and responsibility of the positions involved. The only inherently
reliable methods of doing this are by fingerprints or DNA. The
National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS) will
be in place in most forces during 2001 and will offer a fast method
of checking fingerprints. There will be a cost implication for
the checks to be done which should be borne centrally and not
by the individual forces.
16 January 2001