Guidance on international criminal conviction exchange
The following relates solely to ACRO and our role and function only. There may be other agencies and organisations involved in the international exchange of criminal record information and ACRO is unable to answer questions from their perspective.
I am a UK National. If I’m convicted of an offence in another country will it appear on my criminal record in the UK?
If you were convicted of a criminal offence in an EU country then under EU Council Framework Decision 2009/315/JHA that conviction will be forwarded to the United Kingdom Central Authority for the Exchange of Criminal Records (UKCA-ECR) in ACRO.
If the foreign offence has an equivalent offence in England & Wales which is deemed “recordable”, ACRO will add it to the Police National Computer (PNC). If a link to Scotland or Northern Ireland is identified in the transmitted data through place of birth or address, the information will be forwarded to the Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA) and/or the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) for their information. ACRO does not update Criminal Registers in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
If you have been convicted in a country outside of the EU the conviction details may be forwarded to the UK. When the Non-EU Exchange of Criminal Records (NEU-ECR) team in ACRO receives such information, and an equivalent “recordable” offence is found, they will also update the PNC and inform Scotland and Northern Ireland where applicable.
What is a “recordable” offence?
Where a foreign offence is received by the UKCA-ECR or NEU-ECR it will be updated on to the PNC if it is listed as being a “recordable” offence as set out in The National Police Records (Recordable Offences) Regulation 2000.
The Regulation states that recordable offences are those punishable with imprisonment and those specified in the Schedule to the Regulation.
I’m a foreign national in the UK. Will my previous convictions in another country be available to the police and other agencies?
The EU Council Framework Decision 2009/315/JHA permits the UKCA-ECR to make requests to EU countries to search criminal registers for the details of persons subject to certain proceedings in the UK. This includes criminal proceedings, various non-criminal proceedings and in other cases where permission has been granted by the individual. The details contained in a response to a request can only be used for the purposes for which it was requested.
If you are subject to criminal proceedings in the UK, police officers can ask the NEU-ECR to make “police to police” enquiries to countries outside of the EU for details of your criminal convictions. The details contained in a response to a request will be used for the purposes for which it was requested but can also be added to Police Intelligence systems.
For other proceedings which are not criminal the NEU-ECR rarely makes requests but where there is an identified public protection risk they will use the “police to police” enquiry channels to request information on behalf of other official agencies in the UK.
I am a foreign national in the UK. Will my previous convictions in another country be placed on the PNC?
If you have been subject to the proceedings mentioned above and details of your previous foreign convictions have been received by the UKCA-ECR or NEU-ECR, then they would not ordinarily be added to the PNC.
However, if a person’s previous foreign convictions represent an immediate and serious threat to public security, the conviction can be used for other purposes including being added to the PNC, in line with Home Office guidance.
I have a foreign conviction on my PNC record. Will it be passed to third parties?
If a foreign conviction appears on your PNC record it will be available to authorised agencies in the UK in the same manner as UK convictions are. It will be subject to the same disclosure rules that each agency adheres to and therefore depending on its seriousness and age it may not be disclosed in all circumstances.
Foreign convictions held on the PNC may also be subject to re-transmission to other foreign countries that make official enquiries. However, there are rules and restrictions around this retransmission and therefore it may not occur in all cases.
What do I do if I find a foreign conviction on my UK criminal record which is inaccurate?
You should follow the dispute procedures of the organisation that has disclosed the record to you. They will then contact the relevant agency who owns that entry on that particular criminal register. You may be asked to provide evidence to support your claim which could include the submission of your fingerprints for elimination purposes and any other necessary information such as passport details or birth certificate. The dispute will then be investigated.
My foreign conviction no longer appears on a disclosure from the country in which I was convicted. Why is it still on my UK record?
Within the UK foreign convictions are stored and retained in the same way that an equivalent conviction in the UK would be stored and retained. The UKCA-ECR receives details of any amendments to the foreign conviction of a UK national and this can include where the conviction has been deleted from the register due to an amnesty or the end of a retention period.
If the UKCA-ECR is told that an EU conviction has been deleted from the criminal register of the convicting country, whilst it will not delete it from the PNC, it will no longer be retransmitted when another EU Member States request details of that person’s UK criminal convictions.
If the UKCA-ECR is told of any amendments to a conviction it will update the PNC accordingly. When a conviction has been removed due to an acquittal after an appeal, then the UKCA-ECR will update the PNC with the appeal details and the subsequent “not guilty” verdict.
The NEU-ECR follows the same guidelines as the UKCA-ECR.
I am a law enforcement officer dealing with a foreign national. What should I do?
Guidance for law enforcement officers is available ICCE.