The Shadow Home Secretary and local Member of Parliament for Torfaen, Nick Thomas-Symonds, slammed the Home Secretary’s failure to make a statement to Parliament after the mistaken deletion of 400,000 police records.
The records, which were at first believed to total 150,000 but are now thought to be nearer to 400,000 overall, have been deleted in error, prompting concerns that criminal investigations could be compromised. There are concerns that, without the data, criminals will be walking free who would otherwise have been apprehended by evidence such as DNA records and fingerprints linking them to crime scenes, and that vulnerable people will not be safeguarded without information such as arrest records being made available to the police.
Mr Thomas-Symonds has demanded that the Home Secretary “get a grip” and take charge amidst an atmosphere of crisis.
In the House of Commons on Monday, Mr Thomas-Symonds challenged the Government to answer key questions, including whether Ministers were certain, given the initial confusion, that no more than 400,000 records had been lost. The Shadow Home Secretary also asked what work was being done with police to identify gaps in the system and what the impact will be on vital safeguarding issues, such as domestic abuse and stalking.
Despite the seriousness of these concerns, the Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, refused to personally attend the House of Commons debate and instead sent a junior Minister to answer questions, a decision Mr Thomas-Symonds said amounted to a “dereliction of duty”.
Speaking in Parliament, Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, said:
“It was the Home Secretary who needed to show leadership and take control. That is what previous Home Secretaries have done in a crisis. On the Passport Office, Windrush and knife crime, whatever their mistakes, Home Secretaries came to and answered to this House; they did not just offer a media clip, as has happened today. This Home Secretary, who is failing on violent crime and failing on the Windrush compensation scheme, with chaos on border testing, and who was found to have broken the ministerial code, will now not even answer to Parliament and the public on this most serious of issues. The Home Secretary likes to talk tough, but when the going gets tough, she is nowhere to be seen.”
An excerpt of Nick Thomas-Symonds MP’s statement in Parliament can be watched below or be read in full here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2021-01-18/debates/BA42E21A-6FE3-42D2-9810-9C71321D05FA/PoliceNationalComputer#contribution-C5DC292B-FE1B-43F2-9453-9A002281641F
400,000 police records deleted, victims set to lose out on justice and criminals walk free.— Nick Thomas-Symonds MP (@NickTorfaen) January 18, 2021
Yet the Home Secretary is showing no leadership and trying to hide from the issue.
Priti Patel likes to talk tough, but when the going gets tough, she is nowhere to be seen. pic.twitter.com/HvZoajKdab