South Yorkshire Police boss voices concern over lost fingerprint and DNA records

South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has voiced his concern over the loss of thousands of DNA and fingerprint records.

Monday, 18th January 2021, 2:02 pm

Data including fingerprint, DNA and arrest histories was accidentally wiped from the Police National Computer database, which forces across the country share.

The data related to 400,000 records of people who had been arrested and then released without further action.

PCC Dr Alan Billings said the records contained ‘crucial intelligence about suspects that police can access at any time, not least if these particular suspects come to the notice of the police again or as a result of other investigations’.

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South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings

The records contain details of arrests, convictions, vehicles, property, DNA and fingerprint.

Dr Billings added: “The revelation that thousands of police records have been accidentally deleted from the Police National Computer is deeply concerning.

“The impact of this loss on criminal investigations cannot be underestimated. It is sometimes only possible for some suspects to be charged and convicted because their fingerprints and DNA can be checked against what is held on the PNC from other incidents.

“There is little doubt that if these records cannot be restored, some suspects will get away with their crimes and some victims will be denied justice.”

The PNC can also be accessed by other organisations such as the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, the Prison Service and UK Border operations.

Dr Billings added: “Serious questions have to be answered about competence. How did this happen? Is there no back-up? Who oversees this? Are the governance arrangements adequate? Who is to be held accountable?

“We have been told that the records were accidentally wiped during routine work on the systems, but this begs the question of why this possibility was not foreseen and what oversight was in operation.

“I recognise that this could shake public confidence in the ability of the Home Office to guarantee that they have a grip on electronic storage of crucial information held nationally.

“I am speaking to the Chief Constable this week to see whether there is any way we can know what impact this could have on local investigations.”