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Criminal Records: EU Action

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 13 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the European Criminal Record Information system will allow the vetting of prospective employees by (a) airport authorities and (b) other sensitive employers; and what estimate she has made of the speed with which a request for information on a prospective employee’s record could be answered. (243296)

In October, the EU agreed a Council Decision on the establishment of the European Criminal Record Information System (ECRIS). This proposal is designed to provide a standardised format for the secure electronic exchange of criminal records information including the offence and the sentence.

Criminal record exchange in the EU is still currently governed by Council Decision 2005/876/JHA of 21 November 2005 on the exchange of information extracted from the criminal record. Under these arrangements, the UK Central Authority for Exchange of Criminal Records (UKCA-ECR) is automatically told by other member states of convictions of British nationals in other EU countries and can ask other member states for the previous criminal history of one of their citizens who is involved in criminal proceedings here. Responses to such requests should be provided within 10 days.

Where the UKCA-ECR receives this information, it is recorded on our police national computer. It will therefore be available to the Criminal Records Bureau and Disclosure Scotland.

When ECRIS is implemented, it will allow swifter exchange of criminal records information than is the case now.