Most people are aware that if you commit a crime in the United Kingdom, the police will keep track of the crime and any subsequent sentencing so that it can be exposed during a future PNC (Police National Computer) check.

But what about offending abroad, can that be kept a secret?

The answer depends on where abouts the offence has been committed.

Offences in the EU

Because the UK is a signatory to EU Council Framework Decision 2009/315/JHA, if a foreign offence in England and Wales is deemed “recordable,” it will be reported to ACRO (Automating Conviction Requests Office), which will add it to the PNC.

The information will be given to the Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA) and/or the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) for their information if a link to Scotland or Northern Ireland is discovered in the transmitted data through place of birth or address.

Despite this explicit framework, it is nonetheless common that offence information is not always sent back to the UK, for whatever reason.

What is a “recordable” offence?

If a foreign offence is received by UK police and is classed as a “recordable” offence under The National Police Records (Recordable Offences) Regulation 2000, it will be updated on the PNC.

According to the Regulation, recordable offences are those that are punishable by imprisonment and those that are included in the Schedule to the Regulation.

Offences committed outside the EU

If you are a UK national and have been convicted in a country outside of the EU, the information of your conviction may be conveyed to the UK. Much will depend on which country is involved and how dedicated it is to sharing criminal history data, although as stated below, even if the information hasn’t been immediately provided to UK authorities, it may still be sought at a later date.

Police Requests

The United Kingdom is a member of the International Criminal Conviction Exchange, which allows police agencies to share pertinent information with one another on demand.

When a foreign national is detained in the UK, the majority of police forces now use an automated system to request a foreign criminal records check, which takes about 10 minutes.

In the same way, even if an offence committed outside of the UK has not been reported to UK authorities, a request may uncover it.

And what about foreign nationals who commit offences in the UK?

In conformity with the foregoing rules, the UK will share records with international police forces. To give you a sense of how popular criminal record swaps are, ACRO received more than 70,300 requests from EU nations alone between March and November 2017.


Competent solicitors will advise you on the consequences of UK convictions if you are a foreign person, as well as the fact that criminal proceedings in the UK may reveal convictions from other countries.

This is significant because the material could be used in a bad character application, and it could also be relevant to sentencing. In multi-handed instances, it’s also crucial to make sure that any co-whole defendant’s criminal history has been investigated, as this could produce evidence in your favour.

For the time being, what happens in Rome, London, or anywhere else is a closely guarded secret, but if criminal procedures begin, it’s a different thing.