11/04/2007: "UK Private Investigator Blog - "Information Commissioner deletes old criminal records""
The information commissioner, responsible for regulating the correct use of personal data, had ordered 4 police forces to delete decades old criminal records because they are no longer relevant. The records will be deleted from the Police National Computer as keeping them on file are said to breach the data protection act.
One record was described as relating to the theft of meat worth 99p when the offender was 16 in 1984. Apparently these four people complained to the information commissioner when these records kept on showing up in criminal records checks when they applied for jobs. The information commissioner dubbed the records as being not relevant and excessive for policing purposes.
The four police forces involved are Humberside, Northumbria, Staffordshire and West Midlands. The forces have appealed the decision.
In my opinion, the information commissioner was probobly right to allow records of such trivial offences to be deleted after 23 years. However, do not forget that this sets a precident in legal terms. In this country it is neigh on impossible to find out someone's criminal past unless they obtain the records themselves and show them to you. Surely you'd want to know if the person you're suing has a criminal history???
Also, investigators are generally frowned upon by the information commissioner and now it looks as though criminals are being given a pat on the back. These fellows knew the reprocussions of any theft back in 1984. They chose to commit the offence. Looks like a bit of a bad case of PR for the information commissioner, there's certinly a lot of gossip about this decision.