ACRO work will see historic convictions for consensual acts wiped from police records
People with an historic conviction, caution, warning or reprimand for consensual gay sex can apply to have these records deleted or disregarded under provisions laid down in the new Protection of Freedoms Act which come into force on 1 October.
The Home Office introduced the measure in response to concerns that an anomaly in the criminal records system has for decades seen gay men unfairly stigmatised. Work will begin through the Association of Chief Police Officers Criminal Records Office (ACRO) to facilitate amending police records for people who the Home Secretary decides should no longer have a record kept of such historic offences.
When an application is made through the Home Office, ACRO will conduct an initial check of records held on the police national computer to determine if the conviction or caution has been recorded. Home Office case-workers will then use this information to formulate an initial view on whether the conviction should be disregarded.
A dedicated team will then consider each case and make recommendations to the Home Secretary who will have the final decision. If the applicant is successful, the Home Secretary will instruct ACRO to begin the process of removing it from all relevant electronic records held on national police databases.
It means offences will no longer appear on a criminal record certificates or be referred to in any future court proceedings. The move also means people will no longer be unfairly denied or discouraged from applying for jobs or volunteering roles because of the disclosure of a previously held conviction for a consensual act.
ACPO director of information Ian Readhead said:
“ACRO is proud to be a part of this work and dedicated staff will be working with colleagues at the Home Office to amend criminal records which will not only be removed from the police national computer, but also other archives including the court service.
“This is a very important piece of work to end discrimination.”
ACRO and the Home Office are also working with other bodies to run the application process for anyone who wants to get the conviction or caution removed from their record.
It is anticipated it will take at least 12 weeks to process applications in many cases.
The change was made under the Protection of Freedoms Act, which received royal assent on May 1, 2012.
Notes to Editors
• The ACPO Criminal Records Office (ACRO) was founded in 2006 following a decision by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to establish an operationally focussed unit that would work to make sure police forces are using information, including fingerprints, DNA and criminal records in the best way possible
• ACRO is made up of four key portfolio areas that each have responsibility for delivering services. These are the "Bureau", "International Development and NEU-ECR", "UKCA-ECR, Criminology and Forensic Research" and "Operations and Criminal Records"
• ACRO prides itself on its innovative approach to problem solving and is proud of the investment it makes in staff, having won the title of Sunday Times Best Place to Work in the Public Sector 2010 and achieving the highest rank for public sector organisations in the 2011 Best Place to Work in the Public and Third Sector awards
• The organisation also became the first in the UK to achieve an "excellent" grading from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC) immediately after inspection of PNC practices
• Home Office press release http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/media-centre/news/historic-convictions.
For more information contact
The ACPO Press Office can be contacted via 020 7084 8946/47/48 (office hours) or via 07803 903686 (out of office hours).
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is an independent, professionally led strategic body. In the public interest and, in equal and active partnership with Government and partner agencies, ACPO leads and co-ordinates the direction and development of the police service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In times of national need ACPO, on behalf of all chief officers, co-ordinates the strategic policing response.
ACPO’s 311 members consist of 223 chief police officers from the home forces of assistant chief constable rank (commanders in the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police) and above, plus 60 senior police staff members from the 44 forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Non home forces such as British Transport Police have 25 chief police officer members and there are three members from the Service Police.