Errors in Scotland Yards files : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Major errors found in Yard's crime files

by Ken Hyder

A series of blunders by police officers has meant that thousands of criminals in London may be escaping justice because there is no accurate record of their criminal past.

An internal Scotland Yard inquiry into the way officers use the Police National Computer (PNC) - which holds criminal records - found errors in 86 per cent of 600 records at 15 police stations in London.

In many cases defendants' previous convictions were incomplete. This can mean lighter, or heavier, sentences when they appear before the courts.

The error rate varied between individual police stations with Vauxhall recording a failure rate of 100 per cent. Senior officers at Scotland Yard argue that some of these errors are technical and caused by time constraints.

The internal document reads: "Eighty-five per cent of the overall error rate is composed of major errors, ie, those that could potentially lead to serious consequences with the possibility of financial compensation awards to those affected."

A lack of staff resources and poor training is blamed in the report, which also states that the failure to address concerns in 1997 "compounded the problem".

Nevertheless, a Scotland Yard spokeswoman insisted: "The level of error indicated through this audit bears no relevance whatsoever to the accuracy of the PNC records in their entirety."

Probation officers - who assess their clients using the PNC - tell a different story. Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers, said: "I rang some London probation offices and found that these mistakes are percolating through the system.

"There were two separate cases of men on drink driving charges. The records showed they had no previous convictions for drink driving when in fact they had."

-- Martin Thompson (, February 02, 2000

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