In the UK the judge also has a role to play when MLA requests for coercive measures are received, such as search and seizure requests. These measures are very intrusive, so when such a request is acceded to by the UK, the police are obliged by statute to apply to a judge for a warrant. The judge then considers whether all the statutory conditions for such a warrant have been met.
In MLA, once the request has been acceded to by one of the central authorities, it is often referred to the police as an 'executing authority' to ensure that the request for evidence is executed.
MLA requests to the UK must be sent to a central authority. The central authority decides whether or not to accede to an incoming request for assistance and is also able to direct the police to obtain the relevant evidence. However, it is for the police to use their resources as they see fit, so for example, they are responsible for prioritising international requests for assistance alongside their domestic investigations. The central authority is not able to determine the priority of police work.
The UK has three central authorities:
UK Central Authority (UKCA)
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
All MLA requests relating to Scotland must be sent to the Crown Office.
All MLA requests to England, Wales and Northern Ireland relating to tax and fiscal customs matters should be sent to HMRC.
All other MLA requests for England, Wales and Northern Ireland should be sent to the UKCA (based at the Home Office). For full guidance on sending requests to the UKCA see MLA guidelines for foreign authorities (also translated into Turkish, Polish, Spanish, French and Portuguese).
The UKCA encourages requests by email, via secure channels of communication, to UKCA-ILOR@homeoffice.gov.uk.
For requests relating to road traffic offences only, contact UKCA-RoadTrafficOffences@homeoffice.gov.uk.
For requests relating to asset forfeiture and confiscation only, contact UKCA-AFC@homeoffice.gov.uk.
For requests relating to atrocity or war crimes only, contact: UKCA-AtrocityCrimes@homeoffice.gov.uk.
The UKCA can provide a secure Egress link to enable transmission of electronic documents to the UKCA which cannot be emailed. Please see our guide to using Egress (PDF, 285 KB, 3 pages).
Where sending requests by email or through a secure Egress link is not possible, and if physical transmission is necessary, requests can be sent to the following postal address, ensuring these are clearly marked as Asset Forfeiture and Confiscation, Road Traffic Offences, War Crimes or MLA, as applicable:
UK Central Authority
Public Safety Group
6th Floor, Fry Building
2 Marsham Street
EU Member States are able to exchange criminal record information directly with the United Kingdom via the UK’s Criminal Record Information System (UK-CRIS).
Part 3 Title IX of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement provides for the exchange of criminal records data between the UK and individual EU Member States through a shared infrastructure, supplementing Articles 13 and 22(2) of the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters 1959, and its Additional Protocols. The arrangements include streamlined and time-limited processes for exchanging criminal records information and specify that information can be exchanged for crime prevention and safeguarding purposes.
The UK has declared that the central authority to which requests for conviction information should be made is the ACRO Criminal Records Office (ACRO) – the UK Central Authority for the Exchange of Criminal Records. As such, EU Member States should send requests for criminal records to ACRO.
Contact details for ACRO:
Telephone: +44 1489 569 800
EU Member States should request court certificates directly from the relevant court. A copy of the criminal record (see above) must be attached to the request, which will also contain the name of the sentencing court. Contact details for courts in England and Wales, Northern Ireland, or Scotland can be found on their respective websites.
Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories
The Crown Dependencies (Bailiwicks' of Guernsey and Jersey, and the Isle of Man), and the UK Overseas Territories (Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falklands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, St Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Pitcairn) are not part of the UK. The Crown Dependencies and the Overseas Territories are wholly responsible for executing requests within their own jurisdictions. Requests should usually be sent to the Attorney General of the Crown Dependency or Overseas Territory from where assistance is required.
As of 1 January 2021, the new rules for the judicial cooperation between the European Union and the United Kingdom applies since parties agreed on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, of the one part, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (hereinafter – the Trade and Cooperation Agreement).
With due respect to the regulation of data protection, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement provides a new legal basis, as well as makes references to the existing legal framework that covers wide range of judicial cooperation, such as:
- mutual legal assistance;
- exchange of criminal records;
- freezing and confiscation.
Find the following letters of the UK Central Authority to EU Partners: