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Police Records

Volume 407: debated on Wednesday 25 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which private companies are to be given access to confidential police records; whether they will be given access to police files; what undertakings a private employee must give before being given access to confidential information; and what protection is available for private individuals where malpractice is proved against a private employee. [115279]

In line with a recommendation of the Independent Review Team that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary appointed last September, we have come forward with a provision in the Criminal Justice Bill specifically to empower the Secretary of State to delegate functions under Part V of the Police Act 1997 under which the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) has been established. The power is purely discretionary, but will give us the flexibility, should it be needed, to deploy both civil service and private sector staff working in the CRB to best effect. No decision has been taken to delegate any functions currently undertaken by civil servants, including those functions that require access to police records. Were such functions to be delegated they would be subject to appropriate contractual safeguards to prevent any unauthorised disclosure. In addition, under the provisions in the Criminal Justice Bill it will be a criminal offence for any person to whom the Secretary of State's functions are delegated to disclose any personal information save in the course of the person's duties.