Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by the Police Federation



  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" thereafter.

3.  COST

    (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 spectacles/contact lenses.

    (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.

Jeff Moseley

General Secretary

16 January 2001

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