Sharing UK Criminal Record Information with USA

By One Time Crim - 9 Dec 17 12:53 PM


I read this information in the 2016-17 ACRO Criminal Records Office annual report:

‘Momentous’ agreement with the USA
In March 2017, ACRO signed an agreement that is set to improve the way criminal records information is shared between the UK and the USA.The memorandum of understanding is between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and ACRO. It focuses on pro-actively sharing information in order to keep people safe.The FBI’s Assistant Director Douglas E. Lindquist of the Criminal Justice Information Services Division said: “We value the close partnership we have with ACRO and we are pleased to announce the expansion of our information sharing relationship.“This momentous agreement benefits both countries and formalizes the process to share information between each other. We are very much looking forward to working closer with our partners.”Work is ongoing to establish the standard operating procedures that will underpin the agreement and we will report on these developments next year.

Is anyone with a better understanding of these issues able to comment on whether this information is likely to be used for immigration purposes? I realise the agreement is still in the early stages.

By AB2014 - 19 Dec 17 10:33 AM

Yankee - 14 Dec 17 7:19 PM
AB2014 - 14 Dec 17 10:01 AM
BenS - 14 Dec 17 8:30 AM
AB2014 - 13 Dec 17 11:31 AM

In a news post in July, they said,

"Under the terms of the agreement, ACRO will send the FBI details of US nationals convicted in the UK and vice versa, and both organisations will respond to requests about either countries’ nationals who have criminal records in the US or the UK."

That second part is still a bit vague, but it doesn't sound promising, does it? Maybe President Trump is worried we'll go over there and put their criminals out of work....

So the first part presumably refers to Americans convicted in the UK, and Brits convicted in the US. It's odd why the FBI would need details of US citizens convicted in the UK - as US citizens, they can't be denied entry into their own country. The same applies to UK citizens - having a criminal record in the US or any other foreign country doesn't matter, as a British citizen can't be prevented from entering the UK. So while this information sharing might help with their overall data picture of a person, I can't see how it is for immigration purposes as a citizen of a country has the inalienable right to enter and remain in their country of citizenship.

It would be detrimental for dual US-UK citizens who want to hide their criminal record in their other country of citizenship, and if found out then their country of naturalisation could strip them of their citizenship (though their country of citizenship through birth could not do so as this right is also inalienable and cannot be stripped for any reason).

As for the second part, the word "requests" doesn't seem to be any different from how it is right now. In other words, the US authorities have no access to the PNC but can request info on a person on a case-by-case basis. At the moment they need grounds for suspecting you have committed or will commit a crime. But in general, even if this suspicion requirement is removed, hopefully they would not do a request for every single UK citizen entering the US, and would only do so if they sensed something was up?

I understand what you're saying, and the sensible part of my brain agrees with you. However, the cynical part of my brain thinks this could all be done by computer as an automated process when anyone applies for an ESTA. All that has to happen at this end is to enable the US to ask the question "Clear record? YES/NO". If that happens, then the "pending authorisation" status really would mean they are running a check. 

I think the ESTA process runs a check against US DHS watchlists, which are an aggregation of information from other agencies such as the FBI.  The question I haven't been able to find an answer to is whether they also check against the UK watch list (Home Office Warnings Index for example).  If you notify or are a violent offendr, your record is on ViSOR, which uploads to the HOWI daily.

I would be very surprised if the UK's watchlist wasn't co-ordinated at least daily with the US. Anyone on ViSOR who intends to travel to the US would probably have an Interpol green notice issued very quickly, so the US authorities would know about that as well. The main difference would be any effect on someone who isn't on the police's radar but who has some sort of criminal record, maybe spent and from years ago. Although the visa people probably wouldn't be bothered, I'm sure the DHS would be very interested in boosting their statistics on protecting the US from foreign criminals.