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Management and retention of police information: how long should the police retain information about individuals?

Chainey, Spencer; (2019) Management and retention of police information: how long should the police retain information about individuals? UCL (University College London): London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

The NCPE MoPI Guidance (NCPE, 2006) advises on temporal periods for the review, retention and disposal of police information that is about individuals. There is concern that these temporal periods are not supported by a scientific evidence-base that provides the justification for these periods, based on the necessary purposes of this information for policing. Alongside this necessity of purpose for policing is the need to balance legislation that applies in the UK, in particular the Human Rights Act 2000 and the Data Protection Act 1998. This research has examined the existing literature and consulted with a small but representative selection of key stakeholders on the rationale behind the lengths of the periods that should be applied to the review of police information to ensure they meet the principle condition of being ‘necessary’. This research has primarily drawn from the research on recidivism and desistance to identify the key factors that influence the future risk of offending. This research project has identified that age rather than offence type has a stronger and more consistent influence on when an offender may re-offend. It has also identified what is considered to be a useful method for determining when the risk posed by a person who has previously offended returns to a ‘normal’ level i.e., the same as for the general population, or more stringently the non-arrest population. This has shown the importance of age and recency of the last offence in influencing the risk of future offending, and that age appears to be a clear, more consistent and stronger influencing variable to recidivism (and desistance) than offence type. The age at which the offending population was considered to be statistically similar (in significance terms) showed variation in relation to the offence type, but that age was more consistent and clearer in determining the point at which the individual had become ‘redeemed’ and the length of ‘clear periods’ that should be set. This indicated that if reviews of information were to be purely based on recidivism and desistance research that has been published, then 3 – 8 year terms, depending on the age of the offender and offence type, may well be sufficient. However, these need to be balanced with legislation, so the minimum retention period for all police information should be 6 years due to certain conditions in the Limitation Act that influence police information. It is shown that this balance between legislation and scientific evidence can be balanced, but that more scientific evidence needs to be developed in order to provide a good degree of justification and rationale behind the review periods that are applied and that inform the decision on whether to retain or dispose of information that can not be contested.

Type: Report
Title: Management and retention of police information: how long should the police retain information about individuals?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/jill-dando-institute/
Language: English
Additional information: © 2019 University College London. All parts of this research were performed by Spencer Chainey from the Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science, University College London.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10067253
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