My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The House will wish to know that we have today published the Government’s response to Sir Ian Magee’s independent review of criminality information.
As I have said previously, we are grateful for the work that Sir Ian has done on the review and our response accepts the rationale behind all of his recommendations. These and the actions highlighted in our response encourage the better use, sharing and management of criminality information so that we can continue to reduce the risk of harm to the public whilst ensuring that information is held securely and shared only where it is lawful and proportionate to do so.
My introduction to the response is also the Government’s statement of intent on the improved management of criminality information and its use to reduce the risk to the public. It sets out a number of examples of work we have already put in train to further protect the public, for example:
the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has created a central criminal records office, which is providing a focal point for several agencies involved in multi-agency public protection arrangements to protect the public against violent and sexual offenders;
the establishment of a UK Central Authority has enabled the exchange of criminal conviction information between EU member states and the UK; and
the Criminal Records Bureau, the Independent Safeguarding Authority and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre are strengthening the information framework for protecting children and other vulnerable groups.
We are building on these achievements and have begun a programme of work to take forward Sir Ian’s recommendations. This will often not involve doing new things, but instead means factoring the principles of the review into existing or planned pieces of work that we are already committed to delivering; for example, work to support the deportation of EEA nationals in appropriate circumstances and the developing identity management strategy.
Everyone in the public protection network needs to recognise how their jobs contribute to protecting the public and they need to be provided with the training and resources necessary so that they can properly make their vital risk-based decisions relevant to public protection.
This is not just about solving yesterday’s and today’s problems; it is also about trying to make sure that similar issues do not arise in the future. This will require long-term change to how public protection network organisations operate and more work across organisational boundaries.
This will take time, but we have also set ourselves clear short-term milestones. We are already establishing robust ministerial governance structures and will appoint an independent advisor to ensure we maintain momentum. By the end of January 2009 we will agree a strategic direction for criminality information management and will provide new guidance on managing risks across the whole public protection network by April. We aim to implement a number of steps to improve our business processes by the middle of next year, and by September staff training on managing criminality information will be enhanced.
This will take us some considerable way to meeting our key objective, which is to provide frontline public protection network staff with the information they need, in the format that they need, at the time that they need it so that they can protect the public. Our response to Sir Ian’s review is an important aspect of meeting that challenge.
Copies of the documents have been placed in the Vote Office.