Efforts are underway to modernize criminal records to be stored electronically, by the Bermuda Police Service, and shared with British police forces and other local authorities.
According to National Security Minister Wayne Caines, some of the records date back to the 1930s.
In a Ministerial Statement delivered in the House of Assembly on Friday, Mr Caines told MPs that a member of ACRO, the crime records service for England and Wales, will be seconded to Bermuda for three months to help digitise priority records.
Those records include offences committed by sex offenders, gang members and “high harm offenders” with Bermudian or UK passports.
“ACRO will also be given remote electronic access to these records so they can conduct their own searches,” said Mr Caines.
“The Commissioner of Police has confirmed that this arrangement will reduce the demands on the staff, and speed up the information sharing process.
“Moreover, 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,” he added.
Although an information sharing agreement is already in place between ACRO and the Bermuda Police Service, the Minister noted that there are only two staff members employed in Bermuda’s criminal records office.
And those two staff members are responsible for about 20,000 paper records – some dating back to the 1930s.
The cost of the secondment will be about $4,000. Digitised records will also clear the way for computerised access to offender information 24-hours-a-day, as opposed to limited access that revolves around the normal working hours of the the police record office.
The digital records will also be shared with other authorities like the Department of Public Prosecutions and other court services.
“The BPS will now have the ability to research prolific priority offenders based on criminal convictions,” said Mr Caines. And digital records also cut down the risk of important information being destroyed by accident.
“This positive use of an established international relationship will assist in modernising a significant feature of criminal justice administration and improve the efficiency of the Bermuda Police Service in this critical area of criminal record-keeping,” he said.
The Minister also noted that the 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,” he said.
He also noted that the Commissioner of Police “has confirmed that this arrangement will reduce the demands on the staff, and speed up the information sharing process”.
Minister Caines concluded: “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 the criminal area of record-keeping.”