The police are one of the few organisations in Britain who have almost no limitations on the type of information they collect and share. As a result they maintain a vast network of digital databases, the most formidable of which is the Police National Database. A huge digital rumour mill that contains unedited and unfiltered information on members of the public the police have their crosshairs on.
As this extract from our Ebook ‘What Do the Police Have On You’ explains, nobody in the UK is exempt from potentially having their personal data entered onto the PND and few people even know it exists …
The Police National Database (PND) is the largest information system kept by the police. Larger even than the Police National Computer (PNC) (the database that holds details of everyone who has ever been arrested, cautioned, warned or prosecuted). Unlike the PNC, the function of the Police National Database is to gather and store information on those who might commit crime; have associated with criminals (even without their knowledge); or those members of the public who may be the target of criminal allegations.
Almost every member of police staff have unrestricted access to the PND including Police Specials, PCSOs and civilian staff. Although intel is maintained at local level by individual forces, the reports are routinely shared with forces nationally.
Intelligence is not gathered solely on people the police believe may be involved with crime. The police will collect information on anyone they deem relevant. Therefore these databases contain millions of intelligence reports, routinely gathered, including sensitive personal details of people who have never been arrested, charged or convicted of any crime.
The Digital Rumour Mill
The quality of ‘intelligence’ entered onto these systems varies from accusation, idle chat, rumour, smears, lies, slander, nonsense and fantasy all the way through to the occasional fact. If a member of the public chooses to make an anonymous allegation about someone, or the police themselves wish to enter rumour, opinion or suspicion about a witness, victim or suspect, they may do so on the intelligence system with little regard for the relevancy or accuracy of the entry.
For instance, while on duty a police community support officer (PCSO) may stop to chat with a local shopkeeper. That shopkeeper may make some idle gossip and mention the name of a youth that is known to police that he has seen hanging around. He doesn’t have to mention that he has seen the youth engaging in any criminal activity. He could just mention the names of new friends that he has seen that person with. Almost certainly, as soon as the PCSO returns to base, those names will be entered onto the intelligence database. Alongside the name of the shopkeeper who passed on the information.
This data is then stored for a minimum of six years in accordance with police data retention policy that varies from force to force.
All of this seems to run contrary to the laws of data protection – which prohibit authorities from processing unsubstantiated and irrelevant information – but unfortunately the police, alongside many other public authorities, have a get-out clause of ‘protected privilege’. This effectively means that if the information is collected and shared in good faith – regardless of it’s accuracy or honesty – the data controller cannot be sued for defamation. However, if it can be proven that the information is malicious in intent or that the officer who entered the information knew it to be untrue, the defence of ‘protected privilege’ is lost and the police can be sued.
Intelligence files are at often at their most damaging for those who have to obtain enhanced criminal record checks as a condition of employment. Space allocated on the disclosure form gives a senior officer the opportunity to add any “other relevant information” that they believe an employer should know. Much of this can be drawn from unsubstantiated remarks on intelligence files, and many individuals have found their job prospects ruined by what is nothing more than spiteful rumour.
Recent rulings in both the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights have declared that entering unnecessary detail on enhanced criminal record certificates is incompatible with the individuals right to a private life under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).
Finding out what information the police hold on you in their intelligence files can often be difficult, as the police routinely refuse to disclose the data by citing protected privilege and Data Protection exemptions. However, persistence is key to obtaining any data that the police may be processing in your name and if they refuse to reveal what information – if any – they hold on you on intelligence files, there are many avenues of governing bodies, judicial review, civil claims, data protection rights and human rights issues that can be pursued…
“What Do the Police Have on You” comes free with every download of our best selling Ebook: “Uncovering Your Hidden Police Data” available only from this website:
Right now, among the multitude of paper files and hard drives that the police maintain, your details are being processed. Left unchecked, that information could damage your chances of employment, be used as an excuse to investigate you or be forwarded onto any one of the numerous government agencies the police share their data with.
“Uncovering Your Hidden Police Data” tells you how to dig out and view that data, where it is stored and the various legal processes you can use to access that information and have it destroyed. Including:
- How to obtain police notebooks, radio traffic, police station CCTV and other data
- How to make a full subject access request for all of your personal information from the Police
- Everything you need to know on making criminal record checks
- How to prevent an employer from obtaining information you don’t want them to see
- Legal ways of having police information destroyed
- How to use Freedom of Information to get the police to answer your questions
- Subject Access letter template
- The e-mail addresses of every police subject access and FOI department in the UK
Download it now for just £3.50 and you will also receive a free copy of “What Do the Police Have on You?”, a detailed guide of all the different types of personal data the police may be storing against your name.
Download these Ebooks now for £3.50