The confidentiality of this information is guaranteed by the inclusion in the statute of a section barring those involved in collecting or collating of the information from divulging it, except where official duties so require.
Individual files or records in a statute –barred class should be clearly identified in any disposal schedule and cannot under current legislation be released to the public at any time and are therefore not subject to the normal appraisal procedures.
The Rehabilitation of Offenders (NI) Order 1978 precludes the release of information about ‘a living identifiable individual’ who has been charged with or convicted of an offence resulting in a fine or in a sentence of imprisonment or corrective training for a term of up to 30 months.
Depending on the age of the person at the time and the term of sentence, a person is considered to have been rehabilitated after a specified number of years and thereafter no details of ‘spent convictions’ may be made public.
In accordance with a guideline set down by the Northern Ireland Office (now the Department of Justice) such material remains closed until the person would be deemed to have reached the age of at least 95 years.