HC Deb 29 June 1972 vol 839 cc1640-2
6 and 33. Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether he will now consult with the professional bodies and oraginsations about whose members chief constables have been advised that they may forward information under the circulars issued by his Department, with a view to instituting a system whereby the affected individuals are given the same information;

(2) how many circulars have been issued by his Department advising chief constables to forward information about individuals to professional bodies and public authorities.

9. Mr. John Fraser

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish all circulars issued by his Department about the supply of information on misdemeanours of individuals to professional bodies.

17. Mr. Arthur Davidson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for reports from chief constables as to the practice of the police in providing information to professional and other bodies about a person's previous conviction; and if he will make a statement.

19. Mr. Willey

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what advice his Department has given about the disclosure of information to professional bodies by police authorities.

Mr. Maudling

The organisations to which reports are supplied have responsibility for people who are in positions of trust. These arrangements have been in force for a number of years. But I recognise that there is public concern about these arrangements and I am having them reviewed.

Mr. Huckfield

While I am grateful to the Home Secretary for that assurance, may I ask what he thinks of organisations which ask for such reports on their members from the police, and what does he think about chief constables who obviously exceed the advice he gives and supply completely irrelevant information, such as whether they feel that people have inferiority complexes? Will he do something to bring above ground this vast underground labyrinth of the peddling of personal profiles?

Mr. Maudling

I cannot accept the premises behind that supplementary question. The advice we give is that convictions recorded in open court should be made known. For example, where a person convicted of a crime against a child happens to be in charge of children, it is obviously something the employer should know. It is entirely information made known in open court that is supposed to be transmitted under this system.

Mr. Huckfield

Supposed to be.

Mr. Fraser

We welcome the fact that the right hon. Gentleman is concerned about the matter. Will he give an assurance that all circulars and advice about these official tale-telling procedures will be made public, and certainly that where a copy of the letter is sent to the professional body a copy will also be sent to the person affected, that it will deal only with relevant convictions and that it will not relate to matters other than convictions—that disclosure will not contain subjective comments?

Mr. Maudling

Certainly. As I have said, the purpose is to convey to those who should know publicly-recorded convictions. I do not think that could properly be described as tale-telling. I think there is a lot in the hon. Gentleman's second point that people should be told what is being said about them.

Mr. Willey

I welcome the right hon. Gentleman's initial reply. Will he in particular consider promoting an inquiry into the case of the midwife, because in that case there was apparently no prosecution and some of the information is allegedly false?

Mr. Maudling

I shall certainly consider that. I am very conscious of the need to avoid untrue information being circulated. Our view is that what should be made available in certain circumstances is details of convictions recorded in open court—nothing more.