I am today publishing the report of the Independent Adviser for Criminality Information Management, Mrs. Sunita Mason, into the arrangements for retaining and disclosing records on the police national computer (PNC), together with the Government's response. I am placing copies in the Libraries of both Houses and in the Vote Office.
I welcome Mrs. Mason's helpful report and I accept the principles behind all her recommendations, although in some cases we will need to think further about how they should be delivered.
In looking at retention Mrs. Mason had regard to the recent Court of Appeal judgment in the "Five Constables Case" and in the light of the findings has recommended that the current retention arrangements should continue. We agree with that view.
On disclosure of records, while Mrs. Mason considers that the current arrangements for sending information to the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) should be maintained, she is not persuaded that employers always need to see old and minor records. She suggests that some rules are developed to filter out such cases and that a non-statutory panel be established to provide Ministers with further advice in this area. This impacts on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) and cannot be considered in isolation from that legislation.
Mrs. Mason also recommends wider reform of the ROA. The Government agree that the Act needs to be looked at afresh to see what might best be considered in today's context, and that work should include public consultation, before moving to introduce any reforming legislation.
The other major recommendation in the review is that further work should be done around the disclosure of soft intelligence as part of enhanced criminal record checks. Mrs. Mason is concerned that soft intelligence is disclosed too routinely in such circumstances and wonders whether the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) disclosure should be limited to conviction data. This is a complex area, but once again I am anxious to ensure that the disclosure process is proportionate and I will be asking officials to look at this further.