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Police Information

Volume 447: debated on Monday 19 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what guidance was in operation in 1994 regarding the storage and destruction of information by police forces relating to detected crimes; (76145)

(2) under what circumstances police forces may destroy historic information relating to detected crimes;

(3) what guidance he has issued on the length of time that data collected by police forces relating to detected crimes should be held before being destroyed.

No central guidance was in operation in 1994 concerning the storage and destruction of information relating to detected crimes. Forces were, however, subject to the relevant legislation that was in place at that time and may have issued their own internal guidance. A Code of Practice on the Management of Police Information (MOPI) was published in July 2005 and came into effect in November 2005. This requires police information to be periodically reviewed and consideration given to its disposal or retention in line with criteria set out in guidance. Guidance to accompany the Code of Practice, agreed with the Information Commissioner, was published in March 2006. This requires that information be deleted where there is no longer a policing purpose for retaining it, i.e. it is no longer necessary; it is no longer adequate or up to date; or it is excessive or not proportionate to the risk.

The guidance states that all records will normally be held for a minimum of six years, but lists a number of issues that forces should consider when deciding whether to retain records for longer. The MOP guidance states that historical data—which it defines as anything recorded prior to the date that the guidance came into effect—must be reviewed when the subject of a record comes to police attention, and that resources dedicated to reviewing other historical records should focus on information relating to certain public protection matters.

Retention of information must also be in line with relevant legislation including the Human Rights Act 1998, the Data Protection Act 1998, the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000.