An Extraordinary Data Breach – Loss of police records

January 16, 2021

by Ito Onojeghuo | LLM, FIP

The nation woke up to the news of an extraordinary security breach. Over 160,000 of police records allegedly lost from databases linked to the Police National Computer (PNC).

The data which includes biometric data was accidently deleted from databases linked to the PNC – a system that stores and shares criminal records information across the UK and which Law Enforcement Agencies use to access information that supports local, regional and national investigations. Consequently, this data loss could hinder future police investigations as the fingerprint or DNA evidence would not be able to be cross-checked against evidence from other crime scenes.

On the brighter side, a data loss such as this is less damaging than a data leak.


  • What adequate technical measures should have been in place to enable the recovery of the data?
  • Why the glitch? Could it have been prevented? Was a Privacy Impact Assessment carried out?