Draft Police Act 1997 (Enhanced Criminal Record Certificates) (Protection of Vulnerable Adults) Regulations 2002

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Norman Baker: I am grateful to the Minister for his full answers to my questions. To take him back to a previous matter, did he say that guidance had been issued to police authorities in respect of non-conviction matters that are deemed to be appropriate to be passed on? If so, I should appreciate seeing that guidance. Will he also deal with my point about safeguards to protect individuals and to enable them, in certain circumstances, to obtain information that was passed on that may be incorrect?

Mr. Denham: Leaving aside the situation that I have just discussed, there will be an appeals procedure run by the CRB in respect of information that it supplies. The CRB has agreed a timetable and targets for resolving those appeals. If the hon. Gentleman were to apply for a job and only to be told that he had a conviction that he did not in fact have, there would be a set timetable within which the hon. Gentleman could appeal to have that information corrected. I shall write to him setting out the details of the time scales and so on that the CRB has set.

As for guidance, the current position is that ACPO guidance has been issued to the police service. I will check whether that guidance is publicly available. It is our intention to produce Home Office guidance on the matter and to make it publicly available.

Mr. Paice: I am grateful for the Minister's explanation. I share the view that the protection of the child or the vulnerable adult must be paramount, but so too must the rights of the individual who is making a job application. I want to challenge the Minister on two points: first, the original legislation predates the Human Rights Act 1998. What advice has he taken about whether non-disclosure to the individual concerned is compatible with that Act?

Secondly, I do not understand why an individual should not be told about matters that the Minister described as being the sort of matters that the police could disclose to an employer but not to an individual. Surely, it is perfectly reasonable for an individual to be told about convictions that do not appear on the police national computer. I would argue, too, that he should be told about acquittals. The argument can be

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narrowed down to a tiny part of the Minister's example of individuals under surveillance and investigation at a particular time. There is a case for arguing that that should be appealable, perhaps through a magistrates court. An individual who has lost a job because of something that the police told the employer, but not him, should have a mechanism to challenge it.

Mr. Denham: The hon. Gentleman has makes an interesting point. Normally, information that is available under enhanced disclosure will be made available to the individual. My earlier comments were intended to focus on exceptional circumstances, such as a continuing surveillance operation, where disclosure might not be appropriate. Therefore, in general—with the possible exception of intelligence matters, to which I have referred—I expect that most categories of enhanced disclosure will be made available to the individual, so that it will be possible for appeals to be made in the normal way.

We should focus on how to handle circumstances in which every reasonable person would accept that the content of what had been disclosed should not be disclosed to the individual. We could say to the

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individual, ''We have given some information but we are not going to tell you what it is'', but that course of action would be fraught with difficulties. Therefore our intention is that there should be independent scrutiny of cases of disclosure only to the registered person. In such cases, it would be unfair to make the individual responsible for deciding whether to appeal, because we cannot tell them what they have not been provided with.

We have further work to do on how that scrutiny will operate, but I hope that I have provided sufficient assurance, at least for today. We are aware of the matters that the hon. Gentlemen have raised, and we know that we must ensure that such cases are not open to abuse. I hope that I have addressed all of the issues that have been raised.

Question put and agreed to.


    That the Committee has considered the draft Police Act 1997 (Enhanced Criminal Record Certificates) (Protection of Vulnerable Adults) Regulations 2002.

Committee rose at three minutes to Five o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Cran, Mr. James (Chairman)
Atherton, Ms
Baker, Norman
Dawson, Mr.
Denham, Mr.
Flook, Mr.
Godsiff, Mr.
Marshall-Andrews, Mr.
Mole, Mr.
Paice, Mr.
Roy, Mr.
Soley, Mr.
Stoate, Dr.
Sutcliffe, Mr.
Williams, Mr. Roger

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Prepared 25 February 2002