The local Member of Parliament for Torfaen, and Shadow Home Secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, spoke with representatives from frontline organisations impacted by the loss of 400,000 police records at a summit call held last week.
The call took place a fortnight after it emerged that police records had been incorrectly deleted, wiping 400,000 records from the Police National Computer, including DNA evidence, fingerprints and crime scene data, triggering concerns that criminal investigations may be imperilled.
The Shadow Home Secretary, alongside Labour’s Shadow Policing Minister Sarah Jones MP, met with representatives from the Police, domestic abuse charities, victims’ organisations and local government, to hear how this deletion will impact those working with the data every day. The representatives outlined how this data loss could delay the conviction of violent offenders and jeopardise efforts to safeguard young people and vulnerable adults, expressed doubts as to how retrievable the data really is and compared attempting to get detailed information on the matter from the Government to communicating with “a blank wall”.
Throughout the previous three weeks Nick Thomas-Symonds MP has called on the Government to show leadership whilst working to comprehend the extent of the crisis. In early January, the Shadow Home Secretary demanded that the Rt Hon Priti Patel MP “get a grip” and take charge amidst an atmosphere of crisis, after she refused to personally attend the House of Commons statement on the data loss and instead sent a junior Minister to answer questions, and last week he consulted frontline groups at the summit call. Despite these challenges the Home Secretary has refused to clarify exactly what data has been lost and how recovery efforts are progressing, a lack of transparency Mr Thomas-Symonds MP described as “deeply troubling”.
The Torfaen MP said:
“Three weeks ago the Government was forced to admit that hundreds of thousands of Police records, including crucial DNA evidence, had been mistakenly deleted.
“Last week I spoke with frontline organisations working with this data everyday and what they told me was shocking. Three weeks on from this deletion they have not been provided with detailed information and there is still no plan from the Government to mitigate any permanent loss of police data.
“The potential consequences this data loss poses to public safety are serious. The Home Secretary’s refusal therefore to properly answer questions asked in Parliament and by frontline organisations is deeply troubling.
“We need to know what data has been lost, how realistic are recovery efforts and what is being done in the mean time to prevent criminals walking free and to keep people safe?
“I will not stop challenging the Government until these questions are fully answered.”