Delivering Operational Benefits to Law Enforcement

     Deletion of Records from National Police Systems

    Early Deletion of Biometric Information


    You can apply for the deletion of records from the Police National Computer (PNC), National Fingerprint Database (IDENT1) and the National DNA Database (NDNAD) under the Record Deletion Process as defined in guidance issued by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) entitled Deletion of Records from National Police Systems.


    The Record Deletion Process combines aspects of the Exceptional Case Procedure, previously defined in the ACPO Retention Guidelines for Nominal Records Held on the Police National Computer, with provisions contained in statutory guidance issued by the National DNA Database (NDNAD) Strategy Board relating to the early deletion of DNA profiles and fingerprints in certain circumstances. Both antecedent documents have now been withdrawn.


    The Record Deletion Process only extends to records held on the PNC, NDNAD and IDENT1. Locally held records, including custody photographs, are not covered by this process and instead, are managed by chief officers in accordance with the Authorised Professional Practice (APP) – Information Management.


    Retention of biometric information 


    The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 amended the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE), to allow the police in England and Wales to indefinitely retain your DNA profile and fingerprints (collectively referred to as ‘biometric information’), if you have ever been convicted of an offence; this includes receiving an out-of-court disposal such as a caution, warning or reprimand. Equally, the legislation identifies a number of occasions whereby your biometric information will be deleted from national police systems (PNC, NDNAD and IDENT1) if you were not convicted of a recordable offence, provided specified time constraints and other criteria are satisfied.   


    The length of time that your biometric information can be retained depends on your conviction and/or ‘event history,’ i.e. whether or not you were arrested and charged or charged but not convicted of an offence or issued with a PND.


    Follow this link to a summary of the biometric information retention schedule.


    Deletion of biometric information and PNC record


    The guidance provides that, in certain situations, you may apply to a chief officer to have your biometric information deleted before the end of the retention period as defined by law. The early deletion of your lawfully held biometric information may be possible if:


    1. You have no previous convictions and your biometric information is held due to a Penalty Notice for Disorder (PND); or,  


    1. You have no previous convictions and your biometric information is held as a result of you being arrested and charged with a Qualifying Offence (serious offence), but you were not subsequently convicted; and,  


    1. You are able to evidence the grounds for making an application for the early deletion of your lawfully held biometric information. 


    Provided that the evidence and grounds for deleting your records from national police systems are examined and agreed by a chief officer, then the expectation will be that any records held on the NDNAD and IDENT1 will be deleted together with the associated PNC record. However, this will be determined on a case-by-case basis.


    If your biometric information has already been deleted automatically under provisions contained in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, and you make an application under the Records Deletion Process, consideration need only be given to the deletion of the PNC record.


    It should not be assumed though that just because your biometric information has automatically weeded that your PNC record will be approved for removal as well. The grounds and evidence for deletion will still need to be examined and agreed by the chief officer.


    Whether a chief officer agrees to the deletion of your PNC record depends on a number of factors.


    Other relevant information


    • Court convictions are not eligible for removal under this process.


    • Applications can only be made after the investigation process has been completed. For example, if you have been arrested and released on police bail to return to the police station at a later date you will not be able to apply until the investigation process has been completed. 


    • ACRO will act as a gateway co-ordinating all applications for record deletion on behalf of police forces in England & Wales. ACRO will not recommend or make decisions. This responsibility lies with the police force that owns your records.  


    • If you are unable to justify the grounds for record deletion in your submission to ACRO, your application will be rejected and you will be advised accordingly. If your application is accepted, it will be forwarded to the force that owns the relevant records for their consideration and action as necessary. 


    • Chief officers will aim to deal with your application within 28 days. In some cases this will be sooner, however, there may be occasions where the completion will exceed this deadline which is outside of ACRO’s control. In all cases, ACRO will provide updates on applications upon request and provide written confirmation of a chief officer’s final decision. 

    • The decision on whether to delete/retain in circumstances where deletion is not covered by the legislation i.e. automated deletion of biometric information in certain circumstances, rests with the chief officer of the police force which owns the biometric information. For unsuccessful applications there is no formal appeals process.

    How do I make an application? 


    For information on making an application please follow the link below.


    Making an application under the Record Deletion Process.   


    Frequently Asked Questions


    Please check our Definitions page for further explanations of the terms used.



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