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Criminal Records Data

Volume 448: debated on Wednesday 28 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements are in place for sharing criminal records data of individuals from European Union countries admitted to the UK under the Workers Registration Scheme; and if he will make a statement. (79472)

There are currently no arrangements in place for sharing criminal records of individuals from EU member states under the Workers Registration Scheme. The scheme exists to monitor the labour market impact of nationals of the new member states taking employment in the UK. It does not regulate their entry nor their fitness to take a particular job, and those registering under the scheme are not asked to provide details of criminal convictions.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what consultation has taken place with law enforcement professionals in the UK on the European Union pilot project on the sharing of EU citizens’ criminal records; and if he will make a statement; (79419)

(2) whether the UK plans to take part in the European Union pilot project on the sharing of the criminal records of EU residents; and if he will make a statement.

The European Union has put in place a Council Decision on the sharing of criminal conviction information between member states. There has been active consultation with the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Association of Chief Police Officers (Scotland) and the Police Service for Northern Ireland to ensure that the UK has arrangements in place to comply with the Council Decision.

It is proposed for the future enhancement of these arrangements to introduce an electronic method for exchanging criminal record information. To this end there is currently a ‘pilot’ taking place between Germany, Belgium, Spain and France. Further consultation with the relevant parties will be carried out before a decision is taken on whether to join the pilot.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions UK officials have had with law enforcement officials in (a) Bulgaria and (b) Romania on the implications for crime and law enforcement in the UK for those countries accession to the European Union in January 2007; and if he will make a statement. (79421)

I have asked law enforcement authorities to work together to assess the impact of accession on the UK’s crime and law enforcement and to take necessary mitigating action. Cooperation on law enforcement is a key part of the UK’s relationship with Bulgaria and Romania. We continually engage with Bulgarian and Romanian law enforcement officials. The Commission Monitoring Report of 16 May recognised recent progress in tackling organised crime but highlighted the need for further action in preparation for accession. In our contacts with the Bulgarian and Romanian Governments we have repeatedly stressed the need to address the concerns of the Commission. We are also providing some capacity building support to the Bulgarian and Romanian law enforcement authorities.