The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Criminal Records Office (ACRO) welcomed mayors from Eastleigh, the New Forest and Fareham, to show them the operational benefits to law enforcement ACRO provides to enhance public safety.
The Mayor of Eastleigh, Cllr Malcolm Cross, the Mayor of Fareham, Cllr Susan Bayford, and the Chairman of New Forest District Council, Cllr Christine Ford, with other mayors across Hampshire, were given a guided tour of the building, which is located near Fareham, and the various work streams that are undertaken by its highly trained staff.
Committing to provide services for police officers and members of the public that help to protect communities from criminal activity and ensure people with convictions are correctly managed, both in the UK and abroad, is at the heart of ACRO’s mission as a law enforcement organisation.
The dignitaries were given an overview of ACRO and shown the various services it provides to achieve public protection at the event on April 22.
This included an explanation about the various checks conducted and documents provided by ACRO that disclose whether or not a person has criminal convictions, which aids those countries that those citizens are emmigrating to and plan to work in. These documents are Police Certificates, which ACRO staff provide to citizens as part of visa applications for immigration purposes; and the International Child Protection Certificate, which discloses information on those applying to work overseas with children.
The crucial work of the ACRO Intelligence Unit was explained to the mayors. This unit gathers and disseminates intelligence to police forces to give police officers as full a picture as possible when working to solve crime at a local and national level. By working closely with law enforcement agencies across the world the Intelligence Unit and ACRO’s International Criminal Conviction Exchange are able to prevent repeat and sexual offenders from committing crimes on an international level without the authorities knowing about their criminal past.
This process is critical in protecting not only communities from local “known” offenders but allows police to be aware of those who may just be passing through.
ACPO Chief Executive and Director of Information, Ian Readhead, said: “It was a delight to be able to host a visit from the Lord Mayor, Mayors and other Civic Heads from across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. We were able to provide an overview of the work which the Association of Chief Police Officers and Criminal Records Office and the Freedom of Information Central Referral Unit undertake on behalf of the Police Service.
“They were extremely interested in the breadth of activities that we undertake and the wide range of responsibilities carried out by staff. This includes the movement of criminal records across Europe, the management of biometric information and the gathering of intelligence.
“The focus for ACRO is to enhance criminal records so that they accurately reflect the criminal activity of individuals. This information is then provided to frontline officers enabling them to make informed judgements. As a result communities are kept safer and offenders are brought to justice.
“Over the last six years we have grown from a handful of employees to over 250 staff who provide services across the world. I often find it somewhat remarkable that I now have personnel working in Interpol, Europol, the National Crime Agency, the Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre and the Home Office. As a result we have made real inroads into areas of offending and record keeping that were historically neglected.”
Chairman of the New Forest, Councillor Christine Ford, said: “I was mightily impressed by ACRO. In particular I feel very reassured that such an operation exists, and wish it all success in its ongoing expansion. I thank all who welcomed us so warmly.”
Mayor of Fareham, Cllr Susan Bayford, said:
“The work that is being carried out by ACRO is exceptional and as a member of the Fareham Borough Council Public Protection Committee, I found the visit particularly helpful in finding out how the organisation enhances the safety of the public both locally, nationally and internationally.
“We are fortunate to have ACRO working on the nations’ behalf and it is particularly pleasing that this remarkable organisation is based in Hampshire. I have no doubt that ACRO will develop new services in the future and I wish all of the staff continuing success.”