he Information Tribunal has told five police forces to remove old, minor criminal records from their databases.
Some of the cases date back 30 years. They include a person under 18 who was fined £15 for stealing a 99p packet of meat in 1984; a girl under 14 cautioned for a minor assault who was told her record would not be deleted until she was 100; and a person fined £25 for a theft over 25 years ago.
The five forces – Humberside, Northumbria, Staffordshire, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands Police were originally told by the Information Commissioner’s Office in November to delete the records, but they appealed the decision. The Information Tribunal upheld the ICO decision.
In a further blow for police database ambitions a Home Office advisory group – The Ethics Group – is calling for the removal of records from the DNA database for people not convicted of any crime.
The National DNA Database contains some 4.2m records, including those of 100,000 children and half a million people who have never been convicted or even cautioned for any offence.
Ian Readhead, Deputy Chief Constable of Hampshire and ACPO lead on data Protection and Freedom of Information said:
“We are very disappointed with the decision of the Information Tribunal today, which could have far-reaching implications for the police service as a whole
Now that we know about 13-locus matches in DNA databases, the idea of storing everyone forever and just arresting the first one that pops up when there’s a crime seems a little less attractive.