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Police National Computer

Volume 81: debated on Friday 28 June 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will take steps to permit individuals to have access to their own records on the police national computer in order to seek to correct errors; what arrangements are currently operating to correct errors; and if he will make a statement;(2) if he will describe the audit and logging procedures currently employed with the names indexes of the police national computer; and whether in cases of abuse these procedures would identify the officer who performed the check and the number of requests made by that officer.

Under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1984, individuals will have access to data on the police national computer which relates to them, subject to the condition that grant of access will not prejudice the prevention or the detection of crime, or the apprehension and prosecution of offenders. The Act also provides for the retification and erasure of inaccurate data.At present, data input to the PNC is checked automatically by the computer system, as well as by the operators who enter the data and by those who prepare the data for entry. In addition, each police force has designated an assistant chief constable to audit twice yearly on a sample basis the records on the wanted, missing, suspected and found persons file which relate to his force.All PNC transactions are recorded centrally on magnetic tape by the PNC. These records indicate the time of the transaction as well as the terminal from which it originated. In addition, each force is instructed by the Department to log all PNC transactions in such a way as to enable each transaction to be associated with both the terminal operator and the officer who initiated the inquiry.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements there are to remove spent data from the police national computer; how many people are employed to undertake this work; whether such work comprises all or part of their duties; and if he will make a statement.

The information held on the police national computer is weeded continuously not only by the staff of the national identification bureau but also by individual forces and by the PNC itself. Given the nature of the information held on the various indices of the PNC, most of the weeding is done by forces as part of their normal day to day crime prevention and detection activity and the only way of determining the total amount of effort devoted specifically to this task would be by means of a manpower utilisation survey which could be mounted only at disproportionate cost.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department which constabularies have or intend to have an interface with the police national computer; and if he will indicate the nature of the linkage.

The following forces have or intend to have an interface with the Police National Computer to permit the force to have direct access to the PNC from terminals connected to the force's own computer system:

BedfordSussex
CambridgeWarwickshire
ClevelandWest Mercia
CumbriaWest Midlands
DurhamWiltshire
FifeAvon and Somerset
GrampianCheshire
HumbersideEssex
LincolnshireHertfordshire
MerseysideKent
MetropolitanNorthumbria
NorthamptonshireScottish Criminal Record Office which is intended in turn to be interfaced with all forces in Scotland
North Yorkshire
Nottingham
South Wales
StaffordshireSouth Yorkshire
Suffolk

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will state the percentage of checks to the names indexes of the police national computer that do not return a name because that name is absent from the indexes.

The table sets out for two recent days (1) the percentage of checks on particular PNC names indices which elicted a "no trace" response and (2) the percentage of checks on two or three of these indices simultaneously which elicted a "no trace" response.

Index CheckedPercentage of "No Traces"
11 June14 June
(1) Criminal Names38·337·9
(2) Wanted, Missing Suspected and Found Persons56·958·6
(3) Disqualified Drivers36·521·4

Index Checked

Percentage of "No Traces"

Indices (1) and (2)24·525·9
Indices (1), (2) and (3)
Total Checks28·027·6

It would be possible only at disproportionate cost to indentify separately those cases where an inquiry directed at two or three names indices simultaneously elicted a "no trace" response in repect of one or two of these indices.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what arrangements are made to seek to ensure that the names of people not convicted of an offence are not included in the criminal names index of the police national computer; and if he will make a statement;(2) whether any individual arrested by the police has been entered on the criminal names index of the police national computer along with the alleged offence concerned prior to either charges not being proceeded with or the person being acquitted of the offence in court; and if he will make a statement;(3) what are the criteria for who

(a) is recorded upon the criminal names index of the police national computer, (b) is kept on the index and (c) is removed from the index; and if he will make a statement.

Only staff of the national identification bureau may enter records in the criminal names index of the police national computer. A person's name is entered onto the criminal names index if, and only if, the national identification bureau has been notified that the individual concerned has been charged with, or reported for, a recordable offence. If the individual is subsequently acquitted of the offence, and if there is no record of his having been convicted of any previous recordable offence, his name is deleted from the index. Exceptions may apply in relation to offences under section 27(3) of the Theft Act 1968 and section 6(3) of the Sexual Offences Act 1956 where the individual has pleaded his statutory defence and in cases of continuing interest such as where a person is bound over when the charge has been dismissed.Records on the criminal names index are regularly weeded by the national identification bureau in accordance with the following criteria.A.

Data subjects over 70 years of age: records are weeded if the following conditions are met:

  • (i) the subject has not been hard of in the last 10 years (ie no new information has been added to the microfiche record in that period);
  • (ii) the subject was neither convicted of murder nor was a murder victim; and
  • (iii) the record is not of special interest.
  • B. Data subjects between 40 and 70 years of age: records are weeded if the following conditions are met:

  • (i) the subject has not been heard of in the last 20 years;
  • (ii) there is only one conviction on the NIB record (minor offences are disregarded), no subsequent breach of probation and no outstanding proceedings;
  • (iii) the aggregate sentence for the conviction did not exceed 6 months imprisonment (including suspended sentences);
  • (iv) there is no record of any mental illness;
  • (v) there is no record of any sexual offence or indecency;
  • (vi) the subject was neither convicted of murder nor was a murder victim; and
  • (vii) the record is not of special interest.
  • C. Data subjects under 40 years of age: records are weeded if all the conditions at B are met and the data subject was under the age of 14 at the time of conviction.

    Notes:

    (1) "Special interest" refers to notable criminals or to crimes which the police consider to be of special significance or of national historical interest. Such records and all those involving murder are retained idenfinitely.

    (2) Records are weeded 18 months after a police force has reported the subject as having died, unless they are of special interest or involve murder.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what rules apply for access to the information contained in the police national computer indexes to avoid such information going to unauthorised persons and companies; whether there are any limitations upon which police officers may obtain access; and if he will make a statement.

    Rules about access to information contained on the police national computer are set out in the "Code of Practice for the Protection of Personal Data Held on the Police National Computer", a copy of which is in the Library.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many individuals are on the criminal names index of the police national computer whose offences are time-expired so far as any reference to them in any subsequent court appearance is concerned; and if he will make a statement.

    This information is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when it is proposed that all miners pickets' cars will be removed from the seen or checked entry by the police in noteworthy circumstances category of the police national computer; and if he will make a statement.

    No miners' cars are currently the subject of record on the police national computer by virtue of having been used in connection with picketing in an industrial dispute.