Memorandum submitted by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)

 

Re: National database for personal licence holders.

 

 

Thank you for this opportunity to submit the view of ACPO on the creation of a National Database for personal licence holders. The lack of such a database has caused concern to police forces nationally since the introduction of the Licensing Act 2003 and its full implementation in 2005. It was noted, in the original draft legislation, that such a database would be considered following the assent of the bill. The issues centre on the fact that personal licences are issued by local authorities independently without reference to other authorities, applicants can go to any authority for a license. Therefore if an individual has a licence revoked in one area there is nothing to stop them going to another authority to apply for another. Additionally, if an individual were convicted of a relevant offence there is no way that the court would be aware of the fact that they hold a licence unless they declare it. In such circumstances the first time this might come to light is when the licence is due for it's 10 year renewal. A related issue concerns the notification of Temporary Event Notices (TEN'S), the number of TEN's an individual can issue is limited under the legislation, however, at present there is nothing to prevent an individual using their maximum allocation in one local authority area then moving on to another.

 

It is our view that responsibility for delivering the database lies with the DCMS. There are, however, a number of options available as to who might manage it on a day-to-day basis. For example, LACoRS- as the local authority co-ordinator, are already in the position of maintaining regular contact with local authorities nationally and may be able to use their established links to create and/or maintain the database. Other options worth consideration might be for an individual local authority taking on the responsibility in exchange for extra funding, or an established agency such as the SIA or DVLA who are already involved in similar work. Looking to the commercial sector there is at least one company who currently supply a licensing IT package to a significant number of forces nationally, it might be worth considering an option where a commercial enterprise might be interested in developing such a database.

 

In relation to the obstacles to such a database the initial challenge would be the back record conversion and then how to ensure data is kept current. As far as I am aware there is no standard IT used by local authorities, so data feeds could be problematic, having said that all authorities are currently required to maintain records so there should be a technical solution. Having established a database the issue would be maintaining the two-way flow of information, not all relevant offences are recordable so there would need to be a way of getting the details from court onto the database. There would also need to be a procedure for checking individuals, who come to notice for a relevant offence, to establish if they hold a personal licence. This would need to be done at, or prior to, court appearance as the legislation requires that the court consider revocation of the licence at the time of conviction.

 

Whilst there are clearly challenges in establishing this database I again refer to the drafting of the original legislation and this issue of a national database needs to be considered and either implemented or closed down.

 

November 2008