Joint Committee on Human Rights Minutes of Evidence

2. Letter from Hilary Benn MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Home Office, to The Chairman


  I am writing to let you have details of a further tranche of Government amendments for the third day of Report Stage (copy attached) which I have tabled today. The amendments relate to the Criminal Records Bureau.

You will recall that in a written statement on 27 February (Official Report, col: 32WS-36WS) the Home Secretary set out the Government's response to the recommendations of the Independent Review Team (IRT) which he appointed last September to undertake a fundamental look at the operations of the Criminal Records Bureau. A number of the Review Team's recommendations require primary legislation to amend Part 5 of the Police Act 1997 and we said at the time that we would bring forward appropriate amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill to address the most pressing of these.

In summary, the amendments:

      —  Recognise and upgrade the critical role of Registered Bodies in the Disclosure process (recommendation 2 of the IRT);

  —  Confer a power on the Secretary of State to mandate the electronic submission of applications by Registered Bodies (recommendation 3);

  —  Provide a mechanism for ensuring that the agreed criteria for determining which applications should get an Enhanced Disclosure and which should get a Standard are property observed (recommendation 4); and

  —  Facilitiate the better management co-ordination of the end to end business process by permitting the more flexible deployment of Agency and private sector staff (recommendation 1).

  The purpose and effect of the amendments—and in particular the new Schedule—are explained further in the attached explanatory notes. You will note that the detailed provisions reinforcing the role of Register Bodies in the Disclosure process will be set out in regulations. We will want to consider very carefully the responses to the consultation document we issued on 27 February before coming to a final view on these provisions.

We believe that these amendments are compatible with ECHR rights.

6 May 2003

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