Official Suspended In Crimes Row

An official has been suspended over the Home Office’s failure to update police records of Britons convicted abroad. Some 27,000 case files, including 540 for serious or violent offences, were not put on the police computer.

A Home Office spokeswoman said an official had volunteered evidence in the last 48 hours, and had been suspended pending an investigation.

She said the information warranted a disciplinary inquiry – but gave no details of what was revealed.

Nor would she say how senior the suspended official was.

Meanwhile, Home Secretary John Reid has instigated a root-and-branch review of Britain’s criminal databases.

His spokesman said Mr Reid was writing to Cabinet colleagues to get agreement for a review of British databases which received information about criminality, and how information was recorded on them.

One of his junior ministers, Joan Ryan, will meet EU counterparts in Dresden to discuss improving systems for sharing information.

Since the revelations earlier this week, the Home Office has come under repeated fire for failing to update police records.

So far, four drug offenders and a people smuggler have been confirmed as having passed Criminal Records Bureau checks to work with children or vulnerable adults.

But no violent or sexual offenders appear to have slipped through the net.

And it is now thought that about 70 of those 540 serious offenders have been convicted of a further offence since returning to the UK.

The head of the National Association of Probation Officers, Harry Fletcher, said the figure, based on feedback from officers, was particularly low as half of all offenders are usually expected to reoffend within two years.

“It seems very low – but that may be because many of them have disappeared, changed their names or even gone abroad again,” he added.

The Observer reported that among those to reoffend was British gangster Dale Miller, convicted of violent offences abroad during the 1990s.

The newspaper claims his convictions were not on record until shortly before he was sentenced to 16 years in jail for manslaughter in Newcastle in 2002.

But a Home Office spokesman said it was incorrect that he would have been supervised by probation officers if his records had been stored electronically earlier.