Home Office admits 112,000 people have had part of their police records deleted

Former Met chief Lord Hogan-Howe to lead inquiry into the missing files, Home Office confirms

By Kate Proctor

09 Feb 2021

The Home Office has said today files relating to 112,000 people have been deleted from the police computer system and 15,000 of those cases involve people who have had their data wiped in its entirety.

In a written ministerial statement laid in the Commons yesterday afternoon, updating MPs on the huge wiping of data, policing minister Kit Malthouse said the missing data from the Police National Computer could take another three months to recover.

He also said that while the data is incomplete, there is the possibility that 'law enforcement partners' will not have access to records and information that could help their investigations.

He wrote that the Home Office had identified that "209,550 offence records have been wrongly deleted, which are associated to 112,697 persons’ records."

"Of these 15,089 individuals have had their data deleted in totality. Our analysis has identified that only 195 full fingerprint records were deleted, with all these records relating to cases over 10-years old.

"We have also confirmed that no records of convictions have been deleted. Our analysis shows that 99.5% of the deleted records were created prior to 2011."

The Times revealed in early January that up to 400,000 DNA, finger-print and arrest records were accidentally erased from police databases towards the end of last year. Of this 150,000 were arrest records.

While they were records of arrests that led to no further action, this information can be vital in building up a wider pattern of offending.

The Local Government Association is among the organisations with deep concerns about the missing files and how it will impact on frontline workers ability to protect vulnerable people.

In a letter seen by PoliticsHome, the local government umbrella organisation warned that social workers tackling child exploitation, teams working on domestic violence, modern slavery and counter terrorism could be hindered in their work.

It was also confirmed today by the home secretary that former head of the Met, Lord Hogan-Howe, will lead an inquiry into the missing files. He led the force between 2011 and 2017.

Labour has been critical of the wiped files and has said that the LGA's concerns are extremely serious.

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, Labour’s shadow home secretary, said: "The warning from the Local Government Association is incredibly serious. It is now clear that this data loss could undermine vital protections against crimes like child abuse, modern slavery and domestic abuse.”

Frontline workers who usually use the police national computer have been told they can search the police national database and local systems to log calls and to maintain custody records.

The police can also continue to search other relevant national databases, such as the violent offender and sex offender register.

For fingerprints where an individual is suspected of a crime and the police national computer confirms the existence of a duplicate set of fingerprints then officers can request the set of prints from the force who retain a hard copy.

The Home Office has also restored the DNA database backups to a temporary, secure location.

Malthouse wrote: "We have made this data accessible to forces and national agencies this week and set up a business process has been created to enable matching in support of ongoing investigations. During this period all audit and legislative requirements will be met."

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