Reportedly, a software glitch wiped DNA and fingerprint data from the police computer.
The UK government has acknowledged that a technical glitch resulted in the accidental deletion of 150,000 arrest records from police databases across the country. The Time reported that the erasure was unintended and caused by human error.
The Accidental Erasure
According to sources, a defective code was responsible for reserving the wrong files for deletion. The error affected records on the Police National Computer and impacted the UK’s visa system, leading to visa application processing suspension for two days.
An Extraordinary Security Breach
Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds stated that it was an ‘extraordinary security breach.
“This is an extraordinarily serious security breach that presents huge dangers for public safety. The incompetence of this shambolic government cannot be allowed to put people at risk, let criminals go free and deny victims justice,” the official statement from Nick Thomas-Symonds read.
Priti Patel, the Secretary of State for the UK Home Department, is also urged to explain the careless security blunder that wiped records from national police databases.
Biometric Evidence Lost
The UK police lost over 150,000 DNA, fingerprints, and arrest history records due to the software glitch. This could have serious consequences as offenders can easily escape conviction since biometric evidence collected from the crime scenes will no longer be available on the Police National Computer.
Data Wiped During Weeding Session
According to sources at the UK Home Office, the records were accidentally erased during the department’s weekly data expunging process, called the “Weeding Session.” The Times reported that suspects’ crucial intelligence data has vanished, but records of criminals or dangerous persons weren’t deleted. Moreover, the lost data was of individuals who were arrested and released without charge.
Investigation is Underway
Kit Malthouse, the UK’s Policing Minister, confirmed that officials are investigating the incident and trying to recover the lost records. They have identified and resolved the issue so that it won’t happen again.
“The Home Office, NPCC [National Police Chiefs’ Council], and other law enforcement partners are working at pace to recover the data….. I have asked officials and the police to confirm their initial assessment that there is no threat to public safety. I will provide further updates as we conclude our work.”