Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Negligence and CRB

In a case that is likely to be of importance, a man has been given leave to bring a case for negligence against the police on the grounds that they included the fact that he had been questioned for a sexual assault in the information on the Police National Computer.

The detective investigating the case had noted that it was clearly a case of mistaken identity and there was no reason whatever to consider him a suspect. Nevertheless, what was recorded was the fact that he had been investigated.

The rule is that that 'relevant and proportional information held on that individual' may be included. This is to allow for the fact that Ian Huntley had a long record of suspicions against him but, because only convictions and cautions were recorded at that time, his CRB check came back clear. Even by this standard, the police in this case were clearly negligent.

The fact that the man has been allowed to bring a case of negligence is unusual as there is a long-standing principle of English law that it is against the public interest to pursue the police for negligence because their operational effectiveness could be impaired. The outcome is interesting to lawyers, but even the case itself may increase the care with which police record information.

Conversely, however, the police have succeeded at the Appeal Court in a case against the Information Commissioner who had tried to limit the length of time that information for 'core police purposes' could be held in cases (Chief Constable of Hampshire and Others v Information Commissioner and Others EWCA Civ 7079).

This means that there will be no danger of information being deleted from the records, which was another reason that Ian Huntley had a clear record.

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