The Technological Error Could Allow Criminals To Go Free


The UK government is assessing the possible consequences of a "technical error" that removed 150,000 records from police databases, including suspects' fingerprints, DNA samples and arrest information.


According to The Times, as a result of the incident, the criminals could go unpunished, since the biometric evidence collected from the crime scenes was not recorded in the electronic system of the Police National Computer (PNC), which stores data on criminal investigations. Law enforcement agencies use PNC to obtain intelligence that can assist in investigations of national, regional and local criminal cases.


A software bug not only caused the Police National Computer to disappear critical information on suspects, but also threw the UK visa system into disarray. The issuance of UK visas was suspended for two days as the police database is being used to check applicants for wrongdoing.


According to sources from The Times, 150 thousand records of arrested persons were accidentally deleted during the next weekly "cleaning" of data, the storage period of which has already expired (the British authorities are obliged to delete data on detainees who have not been convicted after three years of storage). The possibility of malicious activity, such as a cyber attack, was ruled out.


The deleted records relate to individuals who were arrested but then released without further action, according to the UK Home Office. Nevertheless, according to representatives of the British Labor Party, the incident poses a huge threat to public safety, writes the BBC. Data loss due to a technical error could hinder further police investigations because suspects' fingerprints and DNA samples cannot be matched with evidence from other crime scenes.


UK Minister of Police, Safety and Public Safety, Kit Malthouse, assured that the cause of the problem has already been identified, and adjustments have been made to the removal of obsolete records to avoid similar incidents in the future. Currently, the Ministry of the Interior, the Council of the Director of the National Police and other law enforcement agencies are working "at a pace" to restore the lost data.

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