Jason Beer QC and Bobby Talalay appear in the Divisional Court for the NPCC in significant case concerning policy regarding retention of conviction records
Jason Beer QC and Bobby Talalay appeared in the Divisional Court for the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) in a judicial review concerning the lawfulness of the NPCC’s policy that records of convictions for all recordable offences should be retained on the Police National Computer (PNC) until the convicted person is deemed to reach 100-years of age, with no mechanism for deletion. The challenge was that that policy was contrary to the article 8 ECHR rights of the three claimants.
The Court dismissed the claim, finding that the bright-line rule maintained by the NPCC was ‘in accordance with the law’, hopefully putting to rest the argument that, in order for a rule to be ‘in accordance with the law, it must have a mechanism for individual consideration. In holding that the policy was proportionate, the Court considered not only the compelling policing reasons for retention, but also the widespread use of a comprehensive and accurate record of criminal convictions at every stage of the criminal justice system, for licensing and other regulatory functions, and for the wider protection of individuals through, for example, vetting and border control. Distinguishing ECtHR authority in relation to the retention of other types of data, the Court considered that the nature and quality of convictions rendered their effectively indefinite retention to be lawful and proportionate.
The case is particularly significant given the wide-spread use of conviction records and the effect that deletion may have had on a wide range of activities carried on by or on behalf of the State.
A copy of the Judgment can be found online here.