Electronic database set to improve criminal records exchange between UK and Jamaica
ACRO Criminal Records Office has delivered an electronic criminal records database for Jamaica.
It’s a significant project for the UK and is set to improve the exchange of criminal records information between the two countries.
The new database replaces paper records held by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) (pictured) and will help to better protect communities across the world.
Working with the JCF and the British High Commission in Jamaica, ACRO completed the installation of the new system in Jamaica in March 2016.
It marked the end of a £0.5million, two-year, UK government funded project that involved:
- scoping, procuring and delivering the IT, training and infrastructure
- converting 0.5million pre-existing fingerprint normal records into skeleton records on the new database
- considering the potential to link the database with the Jamaican ID card system.
Keeping communities safe across the world
ACRO Senior Manager David McKinney led the project. He said: “An electronic criminal records database for Jamaica will be massively beneficial not just for the police in Jamaica but also for police and other public protection agencies here in the UK. It means, for example, that we will have greater access to information about Jamaican nationals who come to the attention of police in the UK as well as about UK nationals who are convicted of offences in Jamaica. In turn, that will help police and other agencies make better and timelier decisions about managing offenders, in terms of the risk they pose, to keep communities safe. This is a significant project underpinned by a close working relationship between law enforcement and public protection agencies in the UK and Jamaica. It has helped strengthen our ongoing commitment to sharing criminality information. For ACRO, the project will be used as a template for similar work we will be conducting in other priority countries such as Nigeria, which will also benefit from an upgraded criminal records management system.”
British High Commissioner to Jamaica David Fitton said: “This database represents our continued commitment to working with the Jamaican government to improve the criminal justice system. Our cooperation on matters of national security continue to yield good results and we look forward to even more success. This technology will reduce the time spent in identifying criminals and allow security officials to focus on getting justice for victims. It will allow our security forces to continue the partnerships against transnational crime and protect citizens of our countries. I am pleased to have seen this project from concept to implementation.”
A number of early benefits have already been realised:
- Police are now able to quickly access the details of people with previous convictions whose fingerprint records were uploaded into the database.
- Police can check the details of people who come to their attention against those already on the system to help confirm whether or not they have a previous conviction. This is now a much quicker process compared with checking the previous system.
- If someone who has never before offended comes to their attention, a new record can be easily created on the electronic database.
- If a previous offender comes to their attention again, police are able to convert that person’s paper records onto the system as a matter of priority.
- Police teams are systematically working through the remaining paper records and converting them to the electronic database.
The next step
Further funding has been approved by the UK government for ACRO to develop an interface between the new database and the fingerprint system already in place in Jamaica.
Once completed, this next phase of the project will help streamline the process for sharing of biometric information (e.g. DNA and fingerprints) which often proves crucial to investigating serious crimes both in the UK and abroad.
ACRO has managed an Information Sharing Agreement with the JCF since March 2013. The agreement was renewed and re-signed in March 2016 for a further three years.
The JCF highlighted the need for a computerised criminal records database in October 2013. Four months later during a visit to Jamaica to discuss information sharing, ACRO staff realised the potential to develop the project to deliver the system.
In 2015/16 ACRO sent 2,994 requests to Jamaica for criminal conviction information held on their records.
It’s more than double the number of requests sent in the previous financial year and is the greatest number of requests sent from the UK to any country outside the European Union.
Since the introduction of the Information Sharing Agreement, ACRO has seen improvements in the response rate. In 2015/16, 72% of responses were received within 30-90 workings days compared with 56% in 2014/15.