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Personal Records: Data Protection

Volume 493: debated on Monday 1 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) records and (b) data fields there are in (i) the Police National Computer, (ii) the Impact Nominal Index, (iii) the Police National Database, (iv) the National DNA Database, (v) the National Fingerprint Database, (vi) the National ANPR Data Centre and (vii) the UK Border Agency's e-borders programme. (265736)

The information is as follows:

(i) Police National Computer (PNC)

The Police National Computer (PNC) is a critical national service which the Police Service and many others in the Criminal Justice System rely on in order to perform their jobs effectively and safely.

The PNC contains records from a number of separate information databases. The information records stored on the PNC are as follows:

Vehicles—these records are made up of the key data items held by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) that describe the vehicle and its registered keeper. This information, supplemented by any police reports relating to vehicles of interest to the police, is primarily used for roads policing purposes.

Drivers Licences—these records are made up of the key data items from DVLA and record driver entitlement. Their use is confined to roads policing. The system was constructed to enable enquiries to be carried out efficiently and save members of the public from having to present their documents at police stations, reducing inconvenience and saving police time.

Property—these records are constructed by the police and describe stolen, lost and found items of property that are uniquely identifiable by a (serial) number.

Crimelink—these records are constructed by the police and relate to serious unsolved crimes, where the perpetrator has yet to be identified.

National Firearms Certificate Holders—these are records pertaining to the management of firearm licences. They hold details of members of the public who legally own firearms, renew firearms licences, have been refused a licence or had one revoked. The Dunblane tragedy was a key driver for developing the system.

Names—these records are created when individuals are arrested. They record any charges and the subsequent disposal. All recordable convictions are held on the PNC. In England and Wales, records are retained in accordance with ACPO's Criminal Records Office PNC Data Retention Guidelines (publicly available via the ACPO website). In essence all records are retained until the individual is 100 years of age. Records from Scotland are retained in accordance with their legislation and records on the PNC are deleted in the same timeframe as that of Scotland's Criminal History System (CHS).

The table shows the number of records held on the PNC, broken down by the various information databases, as at 13 November 2008. These figures are not mutually exclusive; for example, the same record may be included in more than one database.






Drivers Licences






National Firearms Certificate Holders Register (NFCHR)


The current number of data fields available for each type of record is as stated in the following table.






Drivers Licences


Stolen property




National Firearms Certificate Holders Register


While this illustrates the data fields available they will not all be completed for every record.

Where fields are sub-divided, for example a post code may be entered in two parts, or where multiple entries can occur, for example up to 999 addresses may be entered on a person’s record, this has been counted as one data field.

(ii) Impact Nominal Index (INI)

The INI is a system used by all police forces in the United Kingdom and other joint operating authorities such as the Serious Organised Crime Agency and Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre. It provides summary level information of people who have passed through one of six business areas of the police forces. These business areas are: crime, custody, child protection, domestic violence, firearms licensing (revoked and refused) and intelligence.

The system is part of the response to Sir Michael Bichard's inquiry into the Soham murders, seeking to provide a national information sharing capability to prevent criminals escaping detection simply by crossing force boundaries.

As at 19 March 2009 there were 69,246,299 records on the INI.

Each INI record contains 15 data fields, which include eight fields for the basic nominal data such as surname, forenames, PNC ID, date of birth, age and gender.

The remaining fields contain reference information pertaining to the origin of the data such as the details of the police force/organisation, reference ID, business area and number of records held.

(iii) Police National Database (PND)

The PND has not yet been built and therefore does not contain any records or data fields.

(iv) National DNA Database

The National DNA Database (NDNAD) plays a key role in catching criminals, eliminating the innocent from investigations and focusing the direction of inquiries. It is also one of the few long-term investigation tools, sometimes identifying criminals many years after they believe they have escaped detection. The purpose of the NDNAD is to match DNA profiles left at crime scenes with DNA profiles from known subjects and thereby provide the police with a lead for further investigation.

As at 30 March 2009 there were 5,614,411 subject profile records retained on the National DNA Database (NDNAD) from all police forces, relating to approximately 4,856,466 individuals. Of these, 5,258,779 were from English and Welsh police forces, relating to approximately 4,548,844 individuals. In addition, as at 31 December 2008 there were 343,657 crime scene profiles retained on the NDNAD, of which 329,482 were from English and Welsh police forces.

The reason why the number of subject profile records is not the same as the number of individuals is that it is possible for a profile to be loaded onto the NDNAD on more than one occasion; that is, some profiles held on the NDNAD are replicates. This can occur, for example, if the person provided different names or different versions of their name on separate arrests, or because profiles are upgraded.

All NDNAD records have the same structure consisting of 36 data fields. However, some of these fields are only relevant to subject profiles, and some are only relevant to crime scene profiles. Therefore, no record will have all data fields completed.

(v) National Fingerprint Database (IDENT.1)

IDENT1, the national fingerprint database, is central to police investigation, crime detection and public safety. It gives the ability to establish the identity of arrestees and link a presence at a crime scene with a verified identity quickly and, where necessary, to a forensic standard.

As at the end of February 2009, the IDENT1 (National Fingerprint Database) Unified Collection of Print Sets contained the verified identities of 7.8 million individuals, with which were associated 16.9 million sets of ten-prints and 6.7 million palm prints. The Unified Collection of Unresolved Crime Scene Marks contained 1.78 million finger marks and 115,000 palm marks. There were also 4,600 marks in the Serious Crime Collection.

In addition to the fields representing the biometric data above, there are five fields relating to the biographic data associated with each person: first name, surname, date of birth, gender and appearance.

(vi) National ANPR Data Centre (NADC)

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology allows vehicle registration marks to be “read” by cameras and for the details to be compared against identified database records.

ANPR data itself involves a number of different components. These are:

The overview image, which shows a picture of those parts of vehicle captured by camera while photographing the number plate.

The plate patch, which extracts and isolates the picture of the number plate from the overview image.

The ANPR interpretation (Read) which shows how the ANPR programme has read the number plate.

Hotlists, which are lists of vehicles of interest to the police.

ANPR matches (hits) which show when an ANPR read has matched something on a hotlist.

Time, date and location stamp, which show when and where the data was obtained (the entire national system is time/date synchronised).

The NADC provides a national store for the ANPR data captured by police forces.

The NADC does not itself contain personal data. However, it does contain data which, when combined with other data sources (e.g. vehicle keeper records), could identify an individual. Access to the NADC is only permitted for major and serious investigations and requires authorisation in each case by a senior officer. The level of authority required to access ANPR data increases over time.

It is estimated that there are currently 1.3 billion records held on the system.

For each number plate read recorded, nine fields are populated. For each number plate read that matches a hotlist (for example a list of uninsured vehicles), 11 fields are populated, six fields are used to record details of cameras, four fields are used to record audit information.

(vii) UK Border Agency's e-borders programme

The Semaphore Legacy system of e-Borders currently contains over 82 million records.

The e-Borders system will capture data on passengers and crew arriving in and departing from the UK. This data is API (Advance Passenger Information) and OPI (Other Passenger Information). API will be captured on all those travelling to and from the UK and will comprise up to eight data fields. OPI will be provided by carriers on selected routes only. This will be a data record corresponding to their passenger reservation information. Carriers will only be required to provide this to the extent that it is known, the number of data fields in these records will therefore vary and none are mandatory.