Code of practice for PND

A crucial step in the delivery of the new Police National Database
(PND) was reached last week when a code of practice overseeing its use
was laid before Parliament.

Mar 25, 2010
By Paul Jacques

A crucial step in the delivery of the new Police National Database (PND) was reached last week when a code of practice overseeing its use was laid before Parliament.

The Police National Database (PND) – being developed by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) and due to be launched later this year – will deliver the primary recommendation of Sir Michael Bichard’s inquiry into the murders of schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in Soham in 2002. It will for the first time allow forces across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to share, access and search existing local intelligence and operational information on a national basis.

The statutory code of practice will promote consistent and lawful use of the PND across the police service and is one of a series of measures to guard against misuse of the new system, sitting alongside rigorous access controls and robust individual user security checks.

The PND will deliver benefits to public protection and policing in three key areas: protecting children and vulnerable people, reducing the risk of terrorist activity and disrupting and preventing major, serious and organised crime.

Deputy Chief Constable Nick Gargan, Deputy Chief Executive of the NPIA and chair of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Intelligence Portfolio, said: “I am in no doubt that every investigator and every neighbourhood team in the UK will benefit at some point from the PND, bringing timely information, the full intelligence picture and a real boost to investigations at an early stage.”

The code of practice has been subject to public consultation and has been approved by the ACPO.
Home Office Minister for Identity, Meg Hillier MP, said: “When the PND is delivered later this year it will provide forces with a powerful new tool to fight crime and protect the most vulnerable in society. But it is vital that forces use this new information-sharing capability in a consistent and lawful way and for policing purposes only. The code of practice will enshrine these principles across the police service.”

The PND forms part of the NPIA’s IMPACT Programme, established in 2005 to deliver a substantial element of the Government’s response to the Bichard Inquiry.

An IT-enabled business change programme, it aims to improve the ability of the police service to manage and share intelligence and other operational information, to prevent and detect crime and make communities safer, with a focus on protective services.

Since 2005, it has delivered the IMPACT Nominal Index (INI), an interim information-sharing system which allows forces to see instantly if information on a suspect is held by another force. An inquiry must be then made to the force in question to find out what that information is. The PND will allow this information to be shared instantly, which is why restricting access and use, and safeguarding the dissemination of the information a search returns are vital.

This need for confidentiality was stressed by Stephen Lewis, VP of business development at AEP Networks, specialists in providing secure network encryption and remote communications access, who said: “Accurate information is the lifeblood of policing and it is incredibly sensitive in its content. This means that confidentiality is paramount.” (See PP issue 196).  

He told Police Professional: “Having a common repository for information raises the sensitivity of the data well above that of the normal day-to-day material processed in a police force. This can create tensions when police forces need to work with external agencies and the general public whose level of authorised access to information may be much lower than is required by the new structure.  

“The increasing need to store and access confidential data is something that can be, and is being, supported by technology as terminal equipment and network protection are being upgraded to meet more exacting standards.

“The greate

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