There is a substantial body of legislation which regulates the Police National Computer (PNC), the principal part of which is the Data Protection Act (1984, 1988, 1998 and 2003) and part 5 of the Police Act 1997. The code of practice for the management of police information, introduced under the provisions of the Police Act 1996 and the National Police Records (Recordable Offences) Regulations 2000, form a secondary layer of regulation.
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary inspects police forces' use of PNC.
Access to PNC by non-police organisations is governed by the PNC Information Access Panel (PIAP), whose membership is comprised of the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Association of Police Authorities, the Home Office, and the National Policing Improvement Agency.
Any business case considered by PIAP requesting access to the PNC must:
1. Identify where there is a lawful and justifiable reason for the granting of access. ‘Justifiable’ is to include:
Protection of Life and Property
Preventing the Commission of Offences
Bringing Offenders to Justice
2. Determine whether the access is appropriate to the lawful data needs of the applicant organisation.
3. Ensure appropriate safeguards exist for compliance with data protection and human rights legislation or information assurance rules.
4. Make sure adequate security measures are in place for the transmission to and storage in the requesting organisation.
5. Be certain that an appropriate training regime exists in the applicant organisation for users of PNC.
PIAP has defined the following organisations as ‘non-police’ and has agreed that authorised users within these organisations can have a level of access commensurate with their previously stated and agreed business needs.
Non-police organisations with access to PNC:
1. Access Northern Ireland
2. Charity Commission for England and Wales
3. Criminal Cases Review Commission
4. Criminal Records Bureau
5. Defence Vetting Agency
6. Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
7. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
8. Department for Transport
9. Department for Work and Pensions
10. Disclosure Scotland
11. Drivers Vehicle and Licensing Authority
12. Environment Agency
13. Financial Services Authority
14. Foreign and Commonwealth Office
15. Gangmasters Licensing Authority
16. Health and Safety Executive
17. Highways Agency
18. Her Majesty's Prison Service
19. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs
20. Home Office
21. Independent Police Complaints Commission
22. Jersey Customs and Immigration
23. Mersey Tunnels Police
24. Ministry of Justice
25. National Air Traffic Service
26. National Health Service
27.Office of Civil Nuclear Security
28. Office of Fair Trading
29. Royal Mail
30. United Kingdom Border Agency
31. Vehicle and Operators Service Agency.