Police met Home Office staff four times over records

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Indy Politics

John Reid, the Home Secretary, faced fresh embarrassment over the criminal records blunder after police chiefs disclosed that they had held at least four meetings in his department on the issue.

The Home Office has been thrown into turmoil by the discovery that information about 27,500 crimes committed by Britons abroad had not been entered into the police computer. Mr Reid is today due to announce the result of checks into whether anyone convicted of such major offences as murder, rape or paedophilia obtained a job in Britain with children.

Tony Blair gave votes of confidence to two ministers who were alerted to concerns within the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) over difficulties in processing case files received from other European countries.

The Home Secretary has repeatedly insisted that neither he nor any of his ministers knew that a massive backlog of files had built up.

But yesterday new details emerged of talks between police chiefs and the Home Office on the subject.

Acpo said it had visited the department several times last year to discuss the issue. At least two meetings took place in September. Subsequent meetings were held in October, when Acpo asked for more cash to deal with the problem, and in December.

The Tories and Liberal Democrats both lodged requests, under freedom of information legislation, calling for correspondence between Acpo and Tony McNulty, the police minister, and Joan Ryan, the junior immigration minister, to be released.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said Mr Blair retained confidence in Ms Ryan and Mr McNulty. "What the Home Office said was that there was no evidence that ministers knew of the backlog or the scale of the backlog. That remains the case," he said.

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