Delition of thouands of crime records has 'not hindered' police, says Home Secretary

Police have not been “hindered” by thousands of crime database records being accidentally deleted, the Home Secretary has insisted.

Feb 24, 2021
By Website Editor
Home Secretary Priti Patel

Priti Patel told the Commons Home Affairs Committee that the total number of records wrongly wiped from the Police National Computer had now been identified, data recovery was taking place and that no records of convictions had been lost.

Previously, some 400,000 records were feared to have been lost due to human error as a result of defective code.

Officials are trying to reinstate the information and an internal investigation has been launched to find out how the blunder occurred.

Ms Patel told MPs on Wednesday (February 24): “We have found in total that 209,550 offence records were wrongly deleted which were associated to 112,697 persons records.

“And of that, we know that our analysis has identified 195 full fingerprint records were deleted and these related to cases that were over ten years old.

“No records of convictions have been deleted.”

Asked what the impact of the loss had been, Ms Patel said: “We are not hearing from policing that this has hindered them in terms of day-to-day policing at all.”

She said the total sum lost represented 0.85 per cent of the overall total of several million records held on the system.

Previously, Home Office Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft told MPs that any risk to public safety was “minimal” but that recovery of the data could take several weeks after the Prime Minister branded the deletion “outrageous” and said any loss of data would be “unacceptable”.

On Wednesday, Mr Rycroft said: “We will provide a full impact of the effect of the deleted records form the Police National Computer once all the recovery has happened.

“As the Home Secretary said, on current evidence, the impact on policing is somewhere between zero and minimal because of the other ways they can go to reach the records.”

Ms Patel told MPs how modernising out-of-date IT systems, some of which were more than 50-years-old, was a necessary priority because they “absolutely dominate the infrastructure of the Home Office”.

She added: “It’s clearly wrong, something that has been neglected by successive governments for far too long.

“The infrastructure is absolutely, as we have seen from the Police National Computer issue, out-of-date, struggling, and we have to absolutely update our systems.”

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