Home Office accidentally DELETES 150,000 fingerprint, DNA and arrest records from national police database during weekly data purge - throwing UK visa system into chaos

  • Records deleted in technological blunder and could allow offenders to go free 
  • Home Office said it was working with police to 'assess the impact' of the glitch
  • Omissions appear to at least impinge on police power to reopen investigations 
  • Labour has demanded Home Secretary Priti Patel to take responsibility for error

There was a huge monumental disaster in Home Office as files containing as much as 150,000 finger prints, DNA and arrest records were mistakenly deleted from national Police database, putting UK visa system into chaos

 Home Office has accidentally deleted 150,000 fingerprint, DNA and arrest records from a national police database during a weekly data purge. 

The history records were deleted in a technological blunder and could allow offenders to go free as evidence from crime scenes will not be flagged on the Police National Computer (PNC), reported The Times. 

The Home Office said in a statement it was working with police to 'assess the impact' of the glitch, which reportedly occurred by accident during a weekly 'weeding' session to expunge data.

It said no records of criminals or dangerous persons had been deleted, and that the wiped records were those of people arrested and released when no further action was taken.
However, the omissions would appear to at least impinge on police power to reopen investigations should more evidence come to light in certain cases.

He said in a statement: 'The Home Secretary must take responsibility for this serious problem. 
'She must – urgently – make a statement about what has gone wrong, the extent of the issue, and what action is being taken to reassure the public. Answers must be given.

'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 Times said 'crucial intelligence about suspects' had vanished because of the blunder, and that Britain's visa system was thrown into disarray, with the processing of applications having been suspended for two days.

The Home Office statement said: 'The technical issue with the Police National Computer has been resolved, and we are working at pace with law enforcement partners to assess its impact.

'The issue related to people arrested and released where no further action had been taken and no records of criminal or dangerous persons have been deleted. No further records can be deleted.'

The Home Office is understood to believe there have been no risks concerning visa processing.
Minister for Policing, Kit Malthouse, said: 'Earlier this week, a standard housekeeping process that runs on the Police National Computer deleted a number of records in error. 
'A fast time review has identified the problem and corrected the process so it cannot happen again.

'The Home Office, NPCC and other law enforcement partners are working at pace to recover the data.
'While the loss relates to individuals who were arrested and then released with no further action, 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.' 
The Home Office had a total of 4,204 data loss incidents between 2019 and 2020, according to figures compiled by think tank Parliament Street.

This number is over double - a 120 per cent rise - that of the previous year, with 1,895 data loss incidents recorded by the Home Office in 2018-19.

Among the incidents recorded in 2019-20, 25 were noted as being particularly severe with the Information Commissioner's Office having to be alerted.

Other major data losses suffered by the Government include the data discs of 25million individuals and 7.25million families claiming child benefit, including their name, address, date of birth and, in some cases, bank details, in 2007.

A former Home Office employee told The Guardian in 2018 that thousands of landing cards documenting Windrush immigrants' arrival dates in the UK were destroyed.

The government department also apologised in 2019 after a data blunder exposed the email addresses of people interested in the Windrush compensation scheme.

An 'administrative error' meant messages sent to some individuals and organisations who had asked to be kept informed about the scheme included other recipients' addresses. 

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