The Hon. Wayne Caines, JP, MP Modernizing Criminal Record Keeping
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to advise this Honourable House and the public of an initiative that will see the significant modernization of the criminal recordkeeping methodology of the Bermuda Police Service.
Mr. Speaker, the BPS has an information sharing agreement with ACPO’s national Criminal Records Office (ACRO) in the UK for the purpose of sharing conviction information on British and Bermudian nationals and residents that travel between the two jurisdictions. The BPS Criminal Records Office (CRO) holds approximately 20,000 hard copy conviction records (a combination of handwritten and typed) that date back to 1930. In order to improve the efficiency of the Criminal Records Office (which has only two staff members), and to protect the paper-based system from potential loss or damage, it is our intention to digitise the records and store them electronically in the BPS records management system (RMS).
Mr. Speaker, this process includes scanning the original record and entering the data in a two-stage verification procedure to maintain data integrity. Without a dedicated resource for this function, however, it would take many years to convert 20,000 records.
An opportunity has been presented by ACRO, the UK’s criminal records office, to second a member of their staff to the BPS to assist with the record conversion process. The aim is not to tackle the entire stack of records but rather to prioritize those conviction records of sex offenders, gang nominals, and high harm offenders including those with a Bermuda passport and those with a UK passport. In this way, the most significant conviction records will be captured electronically with further record conversion to take place over time.
Mr. Speaker, ACRO will also be given remote electronic access to these records so they can conduct their own searches. The Commissioner of Police has confirmed that this arrangement will reduce the demands on the staff, and speed up the information sharing process. Moreover, Mr. Speaker, this proposal adheres to information management best practices, enables proportionate access to law enforcement agencies and provides clear lines of accountability. The data contained within RMS will remain the property of the BPS at all times. ACRO use will include searching, printing and exporting information, with users subject to BPS auditing.
The secondment is proposed for 3 months, and the cost to the BPS is approximately $4000.
Mr. Speaker, there are other concurrent benefits of this initiative:
- once digitized there will be 24/7 access by BPS staff, rather than limited to CRO office hours.
- Potential RMS access granted to partner agencies like the DPP, the Courts, and the Department of Court Services
- with significant police time spent on vetting of individuals, there will now be potential for relocating that function to another department
- the BPS will now have the ability to research Prolific Priority Offenders (PPOs) based on criminal convictions; and
- the elimination of the risk of hard copy convictions being destroyed.
Mr. Speaker, this positive use of an established international relationship will assist in modernizing a significant feature of criminal justice administration and improve the efficiency of the Bermuda Police Service in this critical area of criminal recordkeeping.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker,