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back to article Police fight to retain 30 year old petty crime records

Police will appeal against a ruling from the information commissioner to remove records, including on covering the theft of a 99p piece of meat. Four police forces are to appeal against an order from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) to delete old criminal convictions from the Police National Computer (PNC). The ICO …

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Anonymous Coward

Isn't some of this govered by other regulations as well?

I recall reading (ironically in recruitment literature for the Metropolitan Police, some two decades ago) that records of minor offences commited under the age of 18 were either wiped or sealed in some way so as to give people reaching the age of majority a clean sheet with the chance to start afresh. Surely there is legislation other than the Data Protection Act as well that applies here (and in similar cases) that the police should also be obeying?

There recently was a report in the press about a man refused registration at a dentists as he was a non-attender for an appointment over a decade previously when he was aged 12. Perhaps if a few public bodies and businesses were properly penalised for holding inappropriate data, things might improve.

The best penalty would be for them to be denied permission to run any kind of electronic data systems for 12 months, that would get their attention.

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Stop

Elephants never forget

And the police want ID cards DNA and fingerprints, and this is how the want to use these records. Jesus H, man the barricades while there is some hope.

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What about the law

As I understood it (I'm supposed to know this because I interview people at work, buggered if I can remember properly though) the rehabilitation of criminals act states that you don't have to tell a prospective employer about certain crimes, mainly of a petty nature, (posession of a bit of dope, minor offences against the person, petty theft, etc. etc.) if it was more that about four years ago (again, this is from memory, sorry if the numbers aren't right, but you get the gist) therefore, what is the point of the rozzers retaining the data for ever and a day? If there is a pattern of regular offending behaviour, that may be an argument to keep it, but just hanging on to it for the sake of it seems a waste of time, money, resources and a kick in the civil liberties bollocks to boot.

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Anonymous Coward

The appeal is not for retention of data.....

....it is to set precedent.

If they were to let these minor infractions slide they would be open to be asked to remove swathes of useless information about everyone they've ever dealt with.

So by appealing these mindless tidbits they are are hoping that the judgement goes their way and thus allowing them to keep all information they aquire in their day to day dealings with Joe Public.

They are simply scaring the elephants by using bees......

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@Fraser

Which civil liberty exactly is infringed by a record being kept of a crime that was committed, albeit quite some time ago? And exactly who's time do think is being wasted, it's in a database, the waste of time would seem to be someone having to find it and delete it. Resources you might have a point... But the data storage requirements are immense and so these tiny pieces of data are virtually irrelevant.

I always thought that a criminal record was permanent, not just until you think it's no longer of use to the police.

The non declaration of old offences is completely different, private organisations can't check the PNC database anyway, so you don't tell them and they've no way to find out.

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Anonymous Coward

What's the real reason?

There must be a reason the police are so keen to keep this information, but I can't quite see it. At the risk of sounding paranoid, there is certainly something more to this. I am also sure it's not for the public good.

I think the police have proved that they can not be trusted with these details any more. The information should be held by a separate public organisation and the police (or other services) can only obtain information via a request which meets certain conditions and is limited on use. This is a way of ensuring safeguards and balances to what the police can record and the time they have access to it.

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Alert

It's about precedent

The police/security services are not really concerned about these specific cases, but more about setting a "dangerous" (for them) precedent.

If they comply with this order, how long will it take the IC to order removal of DNA of innocent citizens from the DNA database?

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Guy
Alert

Not adhering to their own guidelines

According to guidlines set down by the association of chief police officers, records of offences that garnered non-custodial sentences should be deleted after 10 years for less than 3 recorded offences and after 20 years for more than 3. Unfortunately these are guidelines only and actual policy varies from force to force. Also police cautions should be deleted after 5 years, but again guideline only

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Go

Re: It's about precedent

"If they comply with this order, how long will it take the IC to order removal of DNA of innocent citizens from the DNA database?"

Sooner the better in my opinion!

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The simply compromise is Anonymisation

There may be legitimate reasons for holding on to data (trend analysis, pattern recognition etc). But there is no obvious reason for hanging on the identity of the perpetrator unless the crime is "unspent". So anonymise the data. Remove the identifiers and replace them with one time keys provided by a trusted 3rd party...

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Unhappy

Damned if they do, damned if they don't...

Ironic that Humberside Police are involved in this. It isn't very long since they were criticised for ***deleting*** data from their records about Ian Huntley, relating to complaints against him which were not pursued, prior to the Soham murders. That lead to the Bichard report, which introduced new rules about how the police should retain information.

Seems that it is those who make the legislation, produce the learned reports, and govern data retention, who should consider whether all the things they're telling the police to do are actually contradictory.

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Funny old UK

Retention of information about convictions and convicted criminals is not acceptable? Retention of information about unconvicted people (i.e. DNA, fingerprints) is acceptable? Is white the new black?

@Fraser: >> If there is a pattern of regular offending behaviour, that may be an argument to keep it

How on Earth (or Mars) are they supposed to detect a pattern of offending behaviour? [<== IT angle] Perhaps by assuming all suspects have an offending pattern of behaviour unless they can prove otherwise?

@Guy. "Guidelines" are never legally compulsory - that is their definition, and what distinguishes them from statute, etc. This legal fact is not well known. Of course, if your activities do have recognised guidelines, and you are later challenged in Court as to why preferred to conduct yourself like a pirate rather than follow the norms, you are going to have to come up with a good convincing reason - not impossible, just a tad difficult.

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