Skip to main content

Criminal Records: Vetting

Volume 508: debated on Tuesday 23 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department with which countries the United Kingdom has bilateral agreements on exchanging criminal records information for employment vetting purposes; and if he will make a statement. (323590)

We do not currently have any bilateral agreements in place but we are in negotiation with a number of countries.

We have reached provisional agreement to exchange criminal record information with Australia and New Zealand for employment checking purposes with an applicant's consent. We are aiming to conclude negotiations around the exact mechanisms for doing so by the end of 2010. We have also reached agreements in principle with Ireland and France in relation to those seeking to work with children.

Within the European Union, under the terms of Council Framework Decision 2009/315/JHA on the organisation and content of the exchange of information extracted from the criminal record between member states, the United Kingdom is told by other member states when a British citizen is convicted of an offence within their jurisdiction. Member states are required to take the necessary measures to comply with this Framework Decision by 27 April 2012. Similarly, information may be received through Interpol channels in relation to British citizens convicted outside the EU. Conviction information received through either channel is recorded on the Police National Computer and so will be disclosed in the same way as convictions in United Kingdom courts.

In many countries individuals, and in some cases third parties, can request criminal records certificates for employment checking purposes. We are currently looking at where we can strengthen the guidance for employers to encourage them to ask to see such certificates, particularly in relation to those seeking work with children and vulnerable adults. We aim to put in place all the information that we have on this process in relation to each country to help employers and prospective employees obtain certificates and understand what is disclosed on them. However, obtaining criminal records is only one aspect of pre-employment checks and good practice is also for employers to obtain character and employment references.