Police Criminal Records and Data Deletion Service

Are police criminal records stopping you from getting on with your life? Do the police hold your personal data? Do you want these things removed?

Then contact Donoghue Solicitors. We are experts in civil actions against the police and have a proven track record of success in helping people clear criminal records and get police data removed.

Call us FREE on 08000 124 246 or complete the online form on this page to get started.

What are Police Records?

Police records include data and information relating to recordable offences, such as:

  • criminal convictions
  • cautions (which are not technically criminal convictions)
  • warnings
  • reprimands.

In the UK, they can be held:

  1. locally, by police forces where the offence was recorded, and
  2. nationally, on the
  • Police National Computer (PNC)
  • National DNA Database (NDNAD)
  • National Fingerprints Database (IDENT1)
  • Custody Suite Imaging System (CSIS)
  • other databases.

What is Police Data?

Police data is information the police hold on you. Depending on the circumstances, it might include:

  • DNA (e.g. samples from saliva)
  • fingerprints
  • photographs
  • video footage from CCTV, body worn cameras
  • written records, statements, custody records
  • criminal justice records, such as court documents, notes, records of convictions
  • computer records, including notes and statements made by police officers
  • mobile phone images, text messages, emails, app data
  • other data.

How Long Can the Police Keep Records and Data?

Police in England and Wales can keep records and data for varying lengths of time. Retention periods depend on many factors including:

  • the nature of the offence
  • whether the subject was convicted
  • age of the individual
  • length of detention (if any)
  • where the offence took place
  • type of data
  • where the data is held
  • etc.

Biometric Data Retention Periods

For example, under the Protection of Freedoms Act (2012), police can keep biometric data (DNA and fingerprints):

  • indefinitely if the individual was convicted of a recordable offence. (As mentioned above, this applies even if the case was resolved out of court, and ended with a caution, warning, or reprimand)
  • indefinitely if convicted of any offence outside England and Wales
  • for three years from the date taken if the individual was arrested for, or charged with, a qualifying offence (but the police have the right to ask for an extension). Note that the data will be held indefinitely if the subject has previously been convicted of a recordable offence which is not an excluded offence
  • for five years from the end of sentence if the individual was under 18 when convicted of a first minor offence and was given a custodial sentence of less than five years.
  • indefinitely in the situation above if the sentence was more than five years or if the subject is convicted of a recordable offence during the data retention period.
  • for two years if the police issued a penalty notice but did not bring proceedings
  • for two years (but renewable) when a chief officer has made a national security determination
  • until it has fulfilled its purpose if given voluntarily. (Again, this time period can become indefinite in the case of a conviction.)
  • indefinitely if the subject consents in writing.

It is important to note that:

material which ceases to be retained under a power mentioned in subsection (3) may continue to be retained under any other such power which applies to it.

This can have the effect of extending the shorter time limits above.

Retention Periods for Other Police Records and Data

Other police records and data are treated differently. These include:

  • biometric data samples
  • impressions of footwear
  • PNC records
  • custody suite photographs
  • locally-held police records
  • etc.

The police can keep some of these records until the subject is 100 years old. And, as above, the law gives them broad discretion to apply for extensions of time.

Why People Instruct Donoghue Solicitors to Clear Their Police Records and Data

Clients ask us to get their police criminal record and data removed for a number of reasons. These include:

  • getting or keeping jobs. Many jobs require employers to get a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check from the government. This criminal record check confirms information held by the police, including details of unspent convictions, conditional cautions, etc. Depending on the information disclosed, employers have suspended, dismissed, or refused to hire people after a police record check.
  • removing inaccurate information, which can result in serious harm. For example, in 2012 police records wrongly named 12,000 innocent people as criminals.
  • making sure their personal information is not held on police national computer and local police force computers for privacy reasons
  • proving to themselves, their family and friends, and the wider public that they were wrongfully arrested, charged, or even convicted. This can have a powerful impact and help people come to terms with police misconduct. Claimants in civil actions against the police often seek removal of their police record data.
  • applying for a UK visa or emigrating from the UK to another country. Many countries, including the UK, require a police certificate for immigration purposes for certain types of visa applicants. A police clearance certificate, or certificate of good conduct, shows an applicant’s criminal record. The certificate includes details of spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands, or final warnings. Reviewing and, if appropriate, amending a visa applicant’s UK police record and data can help them fufil visa requirements. (N.B. We can only assist with the police in England and Wales.)

What Everyone Should Know About Deleting Police Data

There is something you should know before you spend time and money trying to clear your police criminal record data. It’s this:

Deleting police data is discretionary.

Not everyone can get their police data and PNC record removed. If you were lawfully and correctly cautioned or convicted it is highly unlikely the police will agree to removing it. Even if you were not convicted, if the police lawfully took and/ or made data with your details they might refuse.

Requests to check criminal records have to be filed using the correct procedure, which varies depending on the police force. But all applications are considered by a senior (chief) police officer for approval.

The police have to consider each case carefully on its merits. They must balance public law principles, including the need to protect the public and act reasonably, with an individual applicant’s right to privacy. It’s a difficult exercise which takes time and experience on the part of both the applicant (and their legal representative, if they have one) and the police officer.

Senior officers are busy people. Considering a data deletion request is time-consuming. As a result, these matters can take many months before being resolved.

Legal Costs Are Not Recoverable From the Police for Data Deletion

It is important to know that legal costs are not paid or recoverable if you apply to have data removed from police records. This means that solicitors won’t help you with data deletion on a “no win no fee” basis. There are no exceptions, even if you were a victim of police misconduct or wrongfully accused/ convicted.

You can apply to the police yourself, or pay lawyers like Donoghue Solicitors to do it for you. But please note: we cannot take every case, and we only deal with police forces in England and Wales.

And, as explained above, there are no guarantees of success, even if you instruct a solicitor. 

How Much Does it Cost to Instruct a Solicitor to Delete Police Records?

We regret we can’t provide costs details here. This is because every case is different. Costs vary depending on many factors, including:

  • which police force holds your data
  • what data the police have in their possession
  • whether that data has been shared with other forces, including national databases
  • the outcome of any criminal proceedings and police complaints
  • how the police respond to your subject access request(s) to check your police records
  • what your police record check reveals
  • how much work we anticipate we will have to do to help you
  • etc.

We will discuss these things with you when you contact us and give you a quote for our services. You are under no obligation to accept it or instruct Donoghue Solicitors to help you delete your police records and data.

Cases Where We Have Helped Clients Delete Their Police Record Data

We have successfully helped clients remove their personal data from police systems in many cases.

For example:

1. We helped “Andrea Johnson” (name changed in the case report at her request) after she was wrongfully convicted for assaulting a police officer in the execution of his duty.

Deleting her police data was important to Miss Johnson because she worked as an SIA-accredited security guard. Disclosing the conviction for a violent criminal act against a police officer on her DBS record meant she was effectively unemployable.

Clearing her police record meant she could continue to work in a field she loved, and gave her a sense that justice had been done.

2. We also helped Nigel Lang get his personal data deleted after he was wrongfully arrested on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children.

Mr Lang was shocked and distressed by his wrongful arrest and detention. Matters were made much worse because he was immediately suspended from work as a drug recovery worker.

He was suspected of the most heinous crime, and had to live with the cloud of suspicion. It greatly affected his mental health.

With our help Mr Lang got £60,000 compensation and deletion of police data relating to the incident and arrest.

3. We got a criminal defence solicitor’s police records cleared after she was wrongfully arrested by West Mercia Police on suspicion of theft.

As a “duty solicitor” our client was well-known to the police for her work representing clients. She was arrested and processed at a police station she regularly visited. It was humiliating.

But worse for our client was the fact that this was a dishonesty offence. If convicted she would lose her job and get struck off the roll of solicitors.

She rightly denied the allegations and, four months after her arrest, the police confirmed they would take “no further action”.

We helped her get the compensation she deserved and, crucially for her personal and professional life, delete her personal & biometric data and relevant police national computer entries.

Why Use Donoghue Solicitors to Get Your Criminal Record Removed

Donoghue Solicitors is an award-winning firm of lawyers who help people in their civil actions against the police. We are nationally-known for this work, having won and been nominated for prestigious legal awards. Read all about us here.

Our lawyers who can help you get your police records deleted include:


Daniel Fitzsimmons

Daniel Fitzsimmons is a Chartered Legal Executive with over 10 years’ experience helping people in their civil actions against the police.

His track record includes many successful police data and record deletion applications. Click here to read how he helped Paul Rogers get his records deleted after being wrongfully arrested by Merseyside Police.

Photo of Kemmi Alfa, a legal executive who helps people with police data deletion requests.

Contact Kemmi Alfa for help with your police data deletion request.

Kemmi Alfa

Kemmi Alfa is also a qualified Chartered Legal Executive.She works full-time on police misconduct and related cases.

Kemmi knows this area of law inside out, is experienced in helping clients get their data deleted, and can help you too. Read all about Kemmi Alfa here.

How We Can Help You Delete Your Police Criminal Record Data

Contact us if you want help to remove your police data. We will be happy to discuss the process and costs with you. You are under no obligation to instruct us.

Call us FREE on 08000 124 246 or complete the short online form on this page to get in touch. Our website uses cutting-edge security so you can be confident that your details will be safe when you contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.