The Association of Chief Police Officers has published
"Retention Guidelines for Nominal Records on the Police National Computer, incorporating the Step Down Model" (.pdf) version 1.3, 16th March 2006.
1.3 The Retention Guidelines are based on a format of restricting access to PNC data, rather than the deletion of that data. The restriction of access is achieved by setting strict time periods after which the releveant event histories will 'step down' and only be open to inspection by the police. Following the 'step down' other users of PNC will be unaware of the existance of such records, save for those occaisions where the individual is the subject of an Enhanced Check under the Criminal Records Bureau vetting process. In those cases the data should be dealt with as intelligence and only disclosed where the relevance test has been applied, on the authority of the Chief Officer
This "step down procedure" really means that once your data has been sucked into the Police National Computer, it will never actually be deleted, except under the most exceptional circumstances. Given the need for disaster recovery and backup systems for this bit of the Critical National Infrastructure, the data may never be truly deleted even if it is so ordered to be done.
How can this be deemed to be "proportionate and necessary" under the Principles of Data Protection ?
Why are the records of people who have been Acquitted of an alleged offence to be retained until such innocent people become 100 years old ?
Note that these Guidelines, like all ACPO Policies, are not legally binding on Chief Constables, who may choose to ignore any bits of it that they wish to, but probably most of them will comply, most of the time..
The Nominal Records of the Police National Computer system is slowly being transformed by already delayed Information Management, Prioritisation, Analysis, Co-ordination and Tasking (IMPACT) computer system
This new Data Retention policy effectively destroys the original intent of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 , whereby "spent" convictions, for minor offences i.e. those attracting less than 2 years in prison, are meant to be expunged from the criminal records, so that they will not dog you for the rest of your life if you are not a habitual criminal who continually re-offends. Back in 1974, when the Police National Computer was created, it was not capable of recording Criminal Convictions etc. but its functions and capabilities have been expanded over the years.
This sort of "function creep" should be borne in mind in any discussion about the National Identity Register centralised biometric database.
1.5 It is recognised thay the introduction of these guidelines may have implications for the business of the non police agencies with which the police currently share PNC data. Work is already under way to ensure that there is a clear understanding of the needs of all stake holders.
Who exactly are these other "non police agencies" with which this data is currently shared ?
Surely this will lead to an increase of parallel, partial copies of the PNC database being duplicated by these other "non police agencies", over which there is no public
control and acountability ?
How about some public consultation on this policy, and not just secret talks with "stakeholders" i.e. vested interests ?
2.5 The Criminal Justice Act 2003 amended PACE providing the police with the additional power to take DNA samples and fingerprints without consent, from all person detained at a police station having been arrested for a recordable offence. Where such an arrest results in no further action being taken, the individual is referred to as a 'CJ Arrestee'.
Where is the justification for treating "innocent until proven guilty" "CJ Arrestees" like this ?
3.1 When a nominal record is created or updated on the PNC by virtue of an individual being the subject of a Conviction, Penalty Notice for Disorder, Acquittal or CJ Arrestee, the record will contain relevant personal data together with the details of the offence which resulted in the record creation. The record will be retained on the PNC until that person is deemed to have attained the age of 100 years of age. Where a subject is shown to have more than one date of birth, th earliest date will be used to determine when 100 years of age has been obtained
Apart from the physical impossability of actually having more than one date of birth per person, presumably this refers to different identity documents or databases which contain errors.
This is an extraordinary statement of Principle. How can this be deemed to be "proportionate and ncessary" under the Principles of Data Protection ?
Why are the records of people who have been Acquitted of a an alleged offence to be retained until such innocent people become 100 years old ?
The records of the offences for which someone has been Acquitted should not be a Police record, but a Criminal Justice / Courts record, and then only for the purposes of preventing a future double jeopardy re-prosecution for the same alleged crime.
N.B. this is one of the long established principles of English Law which the notorious disgraced ex-Home Secretary David Blunkett weakened with his Criminal Justice Act 2003. but since, even under this Act, the decison to prosecute in the face of "compelling new evidence" (usally DNA analysis or re-analysis from "cold cases") lies with the Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions and not the Police, there is still no justification for Acquittals to be retained for so long on the Police National Computer.
4.32 Chief Officers are the Data Controllers of all PNC records referred to above created by their force. They have the discretion in exceptional circumstances, to authorise the deletion of any conviction, penalty notice for disorder, acquittal or arrest histories, 'owned' by them.
4.33 ACPO has approved an 'Exceptional Case procedure' to assist Chief Officers in the exercise of this discretion (see Appendix 2).
Chief Officers have the discretion to authorise the deletion of any specific data entry on the PNC 'owned' by them. They are also responsible for the authorisation of the destruction of DNA and fingerprints associated with the specific entry. It is suggested that this discretion should only be exercised in exceptional cases.
Following the recent widespread media covverage relating to the retention of DNA, it is anticipated that during the next twelve months, there will be a high volume of requests.
It is not recommended that any proactive exercise is undertaken to determine potentially exceptional cases, however the DNAFRP will be incontact with forces to establish examples of deletions which have already taken place.
There should be exactly such a proactive review of the existing PNC records, for the sake of restoring lost public confidence and trust in this "Big Brother" Police State database . It should not be a one off exercise either, but there should be an ongoing, independent review of such data.
|Adult||Custody||6 Months or more||A|
|Subject deemed to have reached 100 years of age|
|Young Person||Custody||6 Months or more||A|
|Adult||Custody||Less than 6 Months||A|
|Young Person||Custody||Less than 6 Months||A|
|Young Persont||Reprimand or Warning||A|
|Adult or Young Persont||PND|
(Lie on file, sine die etc)
What about sentences of exactly 6 months ? Are these rounded up or down for the Data Retention period ?
The rest of this document is made up of a huge list of category A, B and C offences, which shows just how complicated and repetitive the Home Office legislative onslaught has been on our freedoms and liberties.
Category A - pages 18 to 55 = 37 pages @ about 30 per page= about 1100 offences
Category B - pages 56 to 98 = 42 pages @ about 30 per page= about 1260 offences
Category C - pages 99 to 228 / 229 = 128 and bit pages (mostrly about 30 per page, but some at 25 per page) = about 3600 offences
Approximately about 6000 offences !
This is far too many offences - no human being can remember all of these !
Note how many offences there are which are essentially similar, but which have not been repealed.
N.B. There may be a few offences which have been replaced by recent legislation, but which are already on the database.
Unfortunately, the document does not have any cross references to the actual Act of Parliament where the offence is defined.
How many people have been charge with these of the Category A within living memory or are ever likely to be so charged ? e.g.
- 188.8.131.52 Permit premises to be altered intending they be used for the production of chemical weapons
- 184.108.40.206 Slaying lord high treasurer
- 220.127.116.11 Compassing, contriving, planning or advising imprisonment or restraint of the sovereign's heir or successor
- 18.104.22.168 Knowingly cause a nuclear explosion
- 8.2.1 Embracery
(offence of attempting to influence a jury or juror)
- 6.1.2 Misprision of treason ( "where a person knows that treason is being planned or committed and does not report it as soon as he can to a justice of the peace or other authority. The offender does not need to consent to the treason; mere knowledge is enough.")
How can people tell who is drunk and who is insane and by how much ?
- 13.3.21 Supplying firearm to a drunk person
- 11.3.25 Supplying firearm/shotgun/air weapon to insane person.
- 22.214.171.124 Supplying firearm to insane person.
Some of the Category B offences appear to be nonsensical:
- 7.2.15 Distributing recording of threatening, abusive, insulting sounds to stir up racial hatred
- 7.2.16 Showing recording of threatening, abusive, insulting sounds to stir up racial hatred
- 7.2.17 Playing recording of threatening, abusive, insulting sounds to stir up racial hatred
What "sounds" (not "words" or "visual images") can possibly stir up "racial hatred" ?
Some of the Category C offences seem to be impossibly rare prosecutions:
- 11.6.30 Hiring part of a crossbow to a person under 17
- 126.96.36.199 Drive cattle furiously to the obstruction/danger/annoyance of residents or passengers
- 4.3.26 Possession of gold filed from coins
- 4.4.13 Uttering a medal resembling current coin
- 4.6.5 Contributing to bankruptcy by gambling
- 4.6.6 Contributing to bankruptcy by speculating
- 5.572 Possessing or have on premises any stolen dog skin after a previous summary conviction
- 5.5.83 Stealing as servant
- 188.8.131.52 Wrestling, fighting or struggling with any untrained bull
Others seem completely contrary to the Human Rights Act fundamental human right of free expression, and the modern Internet. Do our friends at the Open Rights Group know about offences such as:
- 12.2.52 Make literary work knowing or believing an unauthorised broadcast was to be made
- 184.108.40.206 Make dramatic work knowing or believing an unauthorised broadcast was to be made
- 220.127.116.11 Make musical work knowing or believing an unauthorised broadcast was to be made
- 18.104.22.168 Make artisitic work knowing or believing an unauthorised broadcast was to be made
This massive list of offences does not yet include the literally dozens of serious, presumably Category A offences, which have been inflicted on us through Acts like the Terrorism Act 2006 and the Identity Cards Act 2006 and the Immigration, Asylum and Nationailty Act 2006, all of which received Royal Assent on 30th March 2006.
"22.214.171.124 breach of an anti-social behavior order" is a Category C offence, brought in by the Anti-Social Behavior Act 2003 which amended the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.
However there are two types of controversial Anti-Social Behavior Orders, the ones which are imposed as a sort of bail condition following conviction of another offence, and the particularly evil ones which are imposed without any criminal conviction whatsoever. Breach of either type of ASBO could lead to up to 5 years in prison.
How long are such ASBOs retained on the PNC Nominal Index if they are not breached ?
Surely the ASBOs are actually recorded on the PNC ? If not, then where ?
Another area of controversy - there are no offences under the Hunting Act 2004 which banned fox hunting with dogs, mentioned in this list either.
There is no mention of Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 Control Orders, either as an offence if they are breached, or for how long data about them, or associated with them is to be retained - remember that persons (including British citizens) subjected to such Contol Orders by the Home Secretary have not been charged, let alone convicted of any crime in a Court.
Neither are there any of the controversial Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 offences to do with demonstrations without prior written consent in the Designated Area of up to 1 kilometer in a straight line around Parliament Square, or the Designated Areas around Military Bases or other Crown Land e.g. Buckingham Palace etc.
Deputy Chief Constable Ian Readhead (Hampshire)
ACPO Chairman of Data Protection and Freedom of Information Portfolio Group.
Assistant/Deputy Chief Constable Adrian McAllister (Lancashire)
ACPO Recording and Disclosure of Convictions Portfolio Holder
Telephone: 023 8074 4637
Address: DNA and Fingerprint Retention Project,
Kings Worthy Court,