Minister Shatter to prepare legislation to exchange criminal records data with other countries
The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter, T.D., today published the Scheme of a Criminal Records Information System Bill. The Bill will codify the procedures to apply in relation to the exchange of criminal records data with other states. The Bill also creates a specific obligation on the Gardaí to inform other states when citizens of those states are convicted of criminal offences in Irish courts. Equivalent obligations are currently being legislated for in all EU Member States in accordance with the provisions of an EU Framework Decision. The Bill will provide for the Garda Commissioner to act as a central authority with responsibility for maintaining a national criminal records register which will include centralised records of both domestic and foreign criminal convictions.
Currently, the Gardaí routinely request records of criminal convictions of citizens from other states who are appearing before the courts in relation to offences in this State. They can also request records of convictions in other states of Irish citizens who are of interest to the Gardaí. The impact of the Framework Decision will be to ensure that all member states of the EU are automatically notified in regard to criminal convictions of their nationals or persons resident in their state. This will considerably improve the intelligence information available to police forces regarding persons with criminal convictions.
The Data Protection Acts already apply to criminal records information held by the Gardaí. This allows any person to obtain information in regard to their own criminal record, and to have any incorrect data corrected or deleted.
The Bill will complement the provisions contained in the National Vetting Bureau Bill 2012 to be published shortly. This new Bill will facilitate the use of criminal records information from other states in vetting persons seeking employment working in this state, where that employment requires vetting under Irish law. The Bill will also facilitate the use of criminal records information from other states in the investigation and detection of crime in this state.
In announcing the proposed legislation, Minister Shatter said "In view of the fact that our EU membership provides a common travel area between member states, it is increasingly important to have effective systems to exchange information regarding criminal records of persons moving between states. The Criminal Records Information System Bill will facilitate the use of criminal records information from other states in the investigation and detection of crime in this state. In addition it will facilitate the use of criminal records information from other states in vetting persons seeking employment working in this state, where that employment requires vetting under Irish law".
The Scheme of the Criminal Records Information System Bill is available on the Department of Justice and Equality website (www.justice.ie)
17 April 2012