Police (3): Data Collection and Retention

  • Daniel Marshall
  • Terry Thomas


The police collect and retain personal information on various databases including the PNC and the PND; new databases are periodically started. Personal biometric information, including fingerprints and DNA samples, is also collated and retained in digital form. A number of problem areas have been identified in the management of this personal information, and here we have noted the question of improper use by officers having access to the databases, matters of data quality and debates about how long some of this personal information should be retained to be of use to the police. The future development and expansion of digital technology looks likely to be able to provide the police with more opportunities to retain items of personal information.


  1. ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) (1987) Code of Practice for Police Computer Systems, London.Google Scholar
  2. ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) (1995) Code of Practice for Data Protection, London.Google Scholar
  3. ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) (2000) General Rules for Criminal Record Weeding on Police Systems Version 5, November, London.Google Scholar
  4. ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) (2002) Code of Practice for Data Protection, London.Google Scholar
  5. ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers)/Centrex (2006) Guidance on the Management of Police Information. Google Scholar
  6. BBW (Big Brother Watch) (2016b) Reaction to the Publication of the Biometrics Commissioner’s Annual Report (Press Release) 11 March, London (available at accessed 20 March 2017).
  7. Beavan C (2001) Fingerprints: The Origins of Crime Detection and the Murder Case that Launched Forensic Science, New York: Hyperion.Google Scholar
  8. Bichard Inquiry (2004) Report HC 653, June, London: TSO.Google Scholar
  9. Boffey D (2012) Police Are Linked to Blacklist of Construction Workers. The Guardian, 3 March.Google Scholar
  10. Boffey D (2013) Police Colluded in Secret Plan to Blacklist 3,200 Building Workers. The Guardian, 12 October.Google Scholar
  11. Bowcott O (2008) Police Will Use New Device to Take Fingerprints in Street. The Guardian, 27 October.Google Scholar
  12. Campbell A (2011) Scottish Fingerprint Inquiry Report, Scotland: APS.Google Scholar
  13. Campbell D (1979) Keeping Tabs on Everyone. New Statesman, 10 August.Google Scholar
  14. Campbell D (1980) Society Under Surveillance, in Hain P (ed.) Policing the Police Volume 2, London: John Calder.Google Scholar
  15. Campbell D and Connor S (1986) On the Record: Surveillance, Computers, and Privacy, London: Michael Joseph.Google Scholar
  16. CoE (Council of Europe) (1981) Convention for the Protection of Individuals with Regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, (Convention No. 108), Strasbourg.Google Scholar
  17. College of Policing (2014a) Code of Ethics: A Code of Practice for the Principles and Standards of Professional Behaviour for the Policing Profession of England and Wales, July (available at accessed 29 January 2017).
  18. College of Policing (2016b) Public Order – Command AAP (available at accessed 24 March 2017).
  19. College of Policing (2016c) Information Management – APP (available at accessed 24 October 2016).
  20. Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis (1925) Annual Report for the Year 1924, Cmd. 2480, London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  21. Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material (2016) Annual Report 2015, March, London: Office of the Biometric Commissioner.Google Scholar
  22. (2013) DBS Filtering Guide (available at accessed 17 April 2017).
  23. Grundy S (1990) Fast and Friendly. Police Review, 2 June.Google Scholar
  24. Hall K (2011) Police National Database Launched Containing Details of 15 Million UK Citizens. Computer Weekly, 22 June.Google Scholar
  25. HMIC (HM Inspectorate of Constabulary) (2000) On the Record: Thematic Inspection Report on Police Crime Recording, the Police National Computer, and Phoenix Intelligence System Data Quality, July, London.Google Scholar
  26. HMIC (HM Inspectorate of Constabulary) (2002) Police National Computer Data Quality and Timeliness (Second Report), London: Home Office.Google Scholar
  27. HMIC (HM Inspectorate of Constabulary) (2015) Building the Picture: An Inspection of Police Information Management, July, London.Google Scholar
  28. HMIC (HM Inspectorate of Constabulary) (2016b) Non-police Organisations’ Use of the Police National Computer (Press Release) 10 May.Google Scholar
  29. Hollingsworth M and Norton-Taylor R (1988) Blacklist: The Inside Story of Political Vetting, London: The Hogarth Press.Google Scholar
  30. Home Office (1991) The National Collection of Criminal Records: Report of an Efficiency Scrutiny, London.Google Scholar
  31. Home Office (1995a) DNA Database Goes Live (Press Release) 10 April, London.Google Scholar
  32. Home Office (1995b) Phoenix – Putting You in the Picture, London.Google Scholar
  33. Home Office (1996) On the Record: The Government’s Proposals for Access to Criminal Records for Employment and Related Purposes in England and Wales, Cm 3308, London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  34. Home Office (1999a) Prime Minister Announces Hi-Tech Drive Against Crime (Press Release) 28 September.Google Scholar
  35. Home Office (2000) Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 – Explanatory Notes. Google Scholar
  36. Home Office (2005a) Code of Practice on the Management of Police Information, July, Wyboston: National Centre for Policing Excellence.Google Scholar
  37. Home Office (2005b) Code of Practice – The Police National Computer, National Centre for Policing Excellence, January, Wyboston.Google Scholar
  38. Home Office (2006a) Sir Lawrence Byford Report into the Police Handling of the Yorkshire Ripper Case (available at accessed 28 January 2017).
  39. Home Office (2006b) Green Light for National Police Database (Press Release) 19 April.Google Scholar
  40. Home Office (2012a) Police Officer Misconduct, Unsatisfactory Performance and Attendance Management Procedures – Guidance, Version 2, November.Google Scholar
  41. Home Office (2015g) Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014: Reform of Anti-Social Behaviour Powers – Statutory Guidance for Frontline Professionals, July, London.Google Scholar
  42. Home Office, College of Policing, ACPO, Scottish Police Authority, Ministry of Justice (2013) ViSOR Standards Version 3.1, London.Google Scholar
  43. House of Commons (1990) Criminal Records Home Affairs Committee, (3rd Report Session 1989–90), HC 285, April, London.Google Scholar
  44. House of Commons (2001) Criminal Records Bureau Home Affairs Committee, (2nd Report Session 2000–2001), HC227, March, London.Google Scholar
  45. House of Commons (2013) Blacklisting in Employment: Addressing the Crimes of the Past; Moving Towards Best Practice Scottish Affairs Committee (6th Report of Session 2013–4), HC 543, March, London.Google Scholar
  46. House of Commons (2016b) Support for Ex-offenders, Works and Pensions Committee (5th Report of Session 2016–7), HC 58, 19 December.Google Scholar
  47. ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) (2006) What Price Privacy? The Unlawful Trade in Confidential Personal Information, Wilmslow: ICO.Google Scholar
  48. ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) (2007) Police Told to Delete Old Criminal Conviction Records (Press Release) 1 November, Wilmslow.Google Scholar
  49. Law Commission (2016) Reforming Misconduct in Public Office: Consultation Paper No. 229, September, London: Law Commission.Google Scholar
  50. Lewis J (2011) Hundreds of Police Officers Caught Illegally Accessing Criminal Records Computer. Daily Telegraph, 20 August.Google Scholar
  51. Liberty (2013) Victory for Human Rights as Court of Appeal Rules Blanket Disclosure of Criminal Records Disproportionate (Press Release) 29 January.Google Scholar
  52. Mason S (2011) A Common Sense Approach: A Review of The Criminal Records Regime in England and Wales – Report on Phase 2, December, London: Home Office.Google Scholar
  53. Morris S (2003) Vetting Failures Let Caretaker Slip Through Net. The Guardian, 18 December.Google Scholar
  54. National Centre for Policing Excellence (2005) Code of Practice: National Intelligence Model, London: Home Office.Google Scholar
  55. NOMS (National Offender Management Service) (2012a) MAPPA Guidance 2012 Version 4, London: Ministry of Justice.Google Scholar
  56. NPIA (National Policing Improvement Agency) (2010a) Code of Practice on the Operation and Use of the Police National Database, March, Home Office (available at accessed 5 May 2010).
  57. NPIA (National Policing Improvement Agency) (2010b) Guidance on Protecting the Public: Managing Sexual Offenders and Violent Offenders 2010 (version 2) (available at accessed 5 May 2017).
  58. NPCC (National Police Chief’s Council), Home Office and National DNA Database (2017) National DNA Database Strategy Board Annual Report 2015–16, February, London (available at: accessed 20 March 2017).
  59. O’Neill E (2011) Fingerprint Evidence ‘Based on Opinion Rather than Fact’. The Guardian, 14 December.Google Scholar
  60. Orr-Munro T (2001) Quest for data. Police Review, 22 March.Google Scholar
  61. Probation Instruction (2013) ‘Mandatory Use of ViSOR’ (Ref. 03/2013).Google Scholar
  62. Russell J (1998) Phoenix Data Quality, Police Research Group, Special Interest Series: Paper 11, London: Home Office.Google Scholar
  63. SCC (Surveillance Camera Commissioner) (2016) Surveillance Camera Commissioner Annual Report 2015/16, London: TSO.Google Scholar
  64. Sengoopta C (2003) Imprint of the Raj: How Fingerprinting Was Born in Colonial India, London: Pan Books.Google Scholar
  65. Smith D and Chamberlain P (2015) Blacklisted: The Secret War Between Big Business and Union Activists, Oxford: New Internationalists Publications Ltd.Google Scholar
  66. Thomas T (2001) The National Collection of Criminal Records: A Question of Data Quality. Criminal Law Review, 886–896.Google Scholar
  67. Watts S (1991) Police Computer Could Be Threat to Civil Rights. The Independent, 18 December.Google Scholar
  68. Whitehead T (2012) Thousands Wrongly Labelled as Criminals. Daily Telegraph, 2 February.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Marshall
    • 1
  • Terry Thomas
    • 2
  1. 1.School of LawLiverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.School of Social SciencesLeeds Beckett UniversityLeedsUK

Personalised recommendations