Minister says data was wiped during ‘standard housekeeping process’
Data including arrest records and DNA information of 150,000 people has been wrongly deleted from the national policing database.
The mass deletion took place earlier this week as part of what crime and policing minister Kit Malthouse characterised as a regular administrative exercise. The information – which he said related only to people who had been arrested but released without charge – was previously housed on the Police National Computer, a central nationwide system that allows local forces to access arrest records from across the country.
“Earlier this week, a standard housekeeping process that runs on the Police National Computer deleted a number of records in error,” Malthouse said.
The minister added that steps have been taken to prevent such an accident happening again. Government and policing agencies are now working together to try and recover the lost records.
“A fast time review has identified the problem and corrected the process so it cannot happen again,” Malthouse said. “The Home Office, NPCC and other law enforcement partners are working at pace to recover the data.”
The minister said he would “provide further updates as we conclude our work”.
Malthouse claimed that there is no reason to think the data loss might pose a risk for public safety – but that he has asked for this issue to be looked at more closely.
“While the loss relates to individuals who were arrested and then released with no further action, I have asked officials and the police to confirm their initial assessment that there is no threat to public safety,” he said.
Despite these assurances, home secretary Priti Patel should update the public as a matter of urgency, according to her counterpart in the shadow cabinet, Labour MP Nick Thomas-Symonds.
“It’s not good enough for the home secretary to hide behind her junior Minister on this when there has been such a major security breach on her watch,” he said. “It’s now vital that she makes an urgent statement outlining the true scale of the issue, when Ministers were informed and what the plan is to provide public reassurance. Yet again, Conservative incompetence is putting people’s safety at risk.”