§ Mr. Chris Smith
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements are made for individuals to check the accuracy of factual information about themselves relating to convictions, unsuccessful prosecutions and arrests held by the Criminal Records Office; what guidance he has issued on this matter; whether he proposes to take any steps to allow individuals to have greater access to such information held on automated and non-automated records; and whether he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Hurd
Records of convictions for recordable offences are kept centrally at the National Identification Bureau at New Scotland Yard (formally the Criminal Records Office). Central records are kept of arrests only after a charge has been preferred in respect of a recordable offence. Central records are in general only kept of prosecutions which do not lead to a conviction in the case of persons who have been convicted before. The disclosure of information from police records is a matter for chief officers of police. The policy adopted by chief 209W officers—and embodied in the consolidated circular to the police on crime and kindred matters—is that police records are confidential and information is not disclosed to anyone, save in exceptional circumstances. A person may of course seek details of his or her own convictions by application to the court concerned. A start has been made on the computerisation of conviction records at the National Identification Bureau which are at present held on a microfiche system. The Data Protection Bill, now before Parliament, will change the situation by providing for subject access to personal data, including the records referred to, when held on computer systems. The Department will be considering, in consultation with chief officers of police, the implications of the Data Protection Bill for manual records of convictions.