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Volume 504: debated on Wednesday 27 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance his Department issues to police forces on the types of information to be disclosed in soft data disclosures under enhanced Criminal Records Bureau checks. (312641)

[holding answer 25 January 2010]: Section 113 B (4) of Part V of the Police Act 1997 requires that in addition to criminal record information from the Police National Computer (PNC), enhanced certificates should include any other information which a chief police officer considers might be relevant to the job application in question.

This is usually non-conviction information deriving from local force records and is referred to as ‘approved information’; chief officers are obliged to provide such information for Enhanced certificates under the Act. Where disclosed, information of this nature is considered by the police to represent a factual record of previous events that an employer in the most sensitive type of occupation should be aware of in making an employment decision affecting the most vulnerable groups of people.

Factors that would be taken into consideration when making decisions to disclose would include, but not be restricted to, the position the individual is currently applying for, the age of the information, whether the information might be directly relevant to the assessment of the person’s suitability to work with children and whether it is reasonable to disclose the information, bearing in mind the human rights of the individuals concerned.

In making such assessments, the chief officers follow guidelines including, Home Office circular 5/2005, “Criminal Records Bureau: Local Checks by Police Forces for the Purpose of Enhanced checks”, and this has been augmented by a process known as the Quality Assurance Framework. The circular makes clear that consideration has been given to a person’s right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In this regard there is a section in the circular which details what factors should be considered in determining relevancy.

The Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) is a standardised approach to processing local intelligence information held by Police Force Disclosure Units and was developed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the CRB. QAF provides a step-by-step process framework that ensures that information is considered consistently and in the same way every time. Searches performed on local systems using the QAF Framework and document set produce an audit trail that can be used for quality assurance and to assure QAF compliance.