10/01/2007

Commons row erupts over foreign offences

Home Secretary John Reid has clashed with the Conservatives over the revelation that fewer than half of the UK criminals who committed serious crimes abroad have had their details entered on the Police National Computer.

Speaking in the Commons, the Home Secretary admitted that the details of 280 serious criminals who committed crimes abroad had not had their details entered into the PNC because the files were incomplete.

The offenders include rapists, murderers and paedophiles. There are concerns that, because they were not then subjected to vetting procedures, some of them could have been allowed to work with children.

The news comes after the Association of Chief Police Officers revealed that details of nearly 30,000 cases of Britons committing offences abroad had been left in files at the Home Office.

Mr Reid has ordered an inquiry, however, Conservative leader David Cameron clashed with Prime Minister Tony Blair over the issue at Prime Minister's Question Time, accusing the government of failing to protect the public from dangerous criminals

Mr Blair said: "All the people for whom there is sufficient information are on the Police National Computer. But those who are part of the backlog of cases, where the information was delivered to us, when it was only voluntary, not compulsory, there may be some of those for whom there is insufficient information. That is not the fault of the Home Office."

However, Shadow Home Secretary David Davis warned that the public would have little faith in another review by a civil servant. He said: "The Home Secretary can no longer go on blaming civil servants, or police officers, for this. He has been in this job for long enough to have had every chance to put the right questions. He had failed to do so."

(KMcA/EF)


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