Police told to delete old records

On 20th July 2008  an information tribunal ordered the Greater Manchester Police, and Humberside, Staffordshire, Northumbria and West Midlands police forces to delete details of people who complained about previous petty convictions being kept on file.

Details of crimes can be kept on record for up to 100 years, some of the instances of petty details kept include:

  • Humberside Police: Theft of a 99p packet of meat in 1984.
  • West Midlands Police: Theft which took place more than 25 years ago for which the individual was fined £25.

The case was bought, because a woman who stole £100 from a cash machine in 1983, but has never been in trouble with the police since, had trouble with a visa application 25 years later as the the Grater Manchester Police (GMP) retained her details.

Initially the woman complained to the ICO, who agreed that the force were breaking the data protection laws. The original complaints, by the woman in relation to the GMP, and complaints against the four other forces were were upheld by the ICO on 8th, 16th, 15th and 16th August and 15th November 2007.

The GMP then appealed the ruling to the information tribunal. However this month the information tribunal upheld the ruling and dismissed the complaint. The complaints brought by the other people, against the other 4 forces, were also upheld.

The tribunal was told that that offenders who kept out of trouble 20 years after a conviction were statistically only 0.8 per cent likely to re-offen. The judgment by the tribunal, totaling a 50-page written judgment, states that the forces should not have kept information on file about offences which had taken place so long ago and were ‘no longer relevant’.

A GMP spokeswoman said: “We are considering the implications of the tribunal ruling and our possible routes of appeal.”

The Association of Chief Police Officers, which represents police forces across the country, warned the decision could overturn guidelines introduced after the Soham murders in 2003, and stated “We will now take some time to discuss these implications with the service and decide on the most appropriate course of action.”

There were several complaints about Ian Huntely,  and these complaints were were reported to police about the school caretaker Ian Huntley but not passed on to his employers during the vetting process.

For some reason the police believe that they should be able to record all information, about all people, and keep it forever, and then pass it on to other people, when the “suspect” applies for jobs, visas, or the like. This information that they want to keep and pass on is not just current, or evidence proved in a court, but hersay and rumor.

Articles: Wigan Today and Manchester Evening News

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