HMIC: ACRO provides ‘excellent’ service

ACRO Criminal Records Office provides an ‘excellent’ service to UK police forces, according to a recent inspection.


The report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) describes the work we do to help keep communities safe as ‘vital and cost-efficient.’


The inspection was carried out at ACRO in January 2017 and looked primarily at our use of the Police National Computer (PNC).


As well as highlighting our ‘effective and efficient use of the system, the report also made a number of recommendations where ACRO can improve.



ACRO Chief Executive Ian Readhead said: 


“I would like to thank HMIC, and the inspection team in particular, for their detailed and thorough assessment of our use of the PNC.


“I requested an inspection as part of our work to ensure the services we provide are compliant and as effective and as efficient as possible. From the outset, the review has been an opportunity for ACRO to learn and improve.


“We’ve grown dramatically over the last decade from a small operating unit of a handful of people to a significant national police unit with a workforce numbering around 300 that conducts tens of thousands of PNC transactions each month.


“A lot has changed in this time but ACRO has remained committed to delivering responsible and effective criminal records services to keep people and communities safe and bring offenders to justice.


“That’s why I’m pleased to see HMIC praise the model of working we’ve developed as providing an excellent, vital and cost-efficient service to UK police forces.


“The inspection team found us to have rigorous and comprehensive training for staff, good security procedures and a good relationship with the Information Commissioner in reporting breaches.


“It’s also encouraging that the report recognises our work to reduce bureaucracy, to maintain excellent communications with staff and to deliver cost savings and accurate costing models.


“ACRO has always maintained a ‘can-do’ attitude which, as the report highlights, is reflected in our flexibility and ability to meet ever-increasing and changing demands.


“The areas where we can learn and improve include developing systems for monitoring and auditing, developing an effective business continuity plan, providing greater clarity on our arrangements and relationships to other organisations as well as better marketing of our services in general. 


“We’re are already addressing many of these issues and will progress this improvement work over the coming months.”


How does ACRO use the PNC?

ACRO delivers a range of criminal records information services to law enforcement and public protection agencies in the UK and across the world, as well as to members of the public.


In providing these services, ACRO accesses a number of criminal records databases, although the PNC is by far the database we access the most.


Our primary focus is on ensuring the PNC, as a repository of criminal records information, is as replete as possible so that agencies that work to keep people safe have access to up-to-date and valuable information.


Our PNC work includes:

  • creating records on the PNC on behalf of non-police prosecuting agencies to allow them to bring prosecutions
  • conducting names enquiry checks on the PNC on behalf of non-police prosecuting agencies to assist with their criminal justice work
  • updating the PNC with historical records converted from microfiche on request
  • updating the PNC with serious overseas offences that come to light through our international criminal conviction exchange work
  • updating the PNC with offence details of UK nationals convicted overseas
  • accessing the PNC to produce relevant information for disclosure on Police Certificates and International Child Protection Certificates
  • accessing the PNC to produce relevant information for disclosure to members of the public making Subject Access requests
  • accessing the PNC as part of work to co-ordinate requests from members of the public to have their records deleted from police databases