About 400,000 fingerprint, DNA and arrest records were accidentally deleted from the police database. According to Minister Patel, attempts are being made to restore the files, although it is still unclear whether this will succeed.
The cause, according to the British government, is a ‘human error’ in a program script that was already added to the system in November, but which was only run for the first time earlier this month.
The government does not know how many cases the blunder could have serious consequences for, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. Some of the lost data may need to be manually reentered into the systems. It is estimated that 213,000 crime records, 175,000 arrest records and 15,000 individuals records have been erroneously deleted.
It was announced on Saturday that thousands of police records had disappeared from the national police system, including fingerprints and records of previous arrests. Because of the missing data, in some cases suspects have been released after their arrests, the interior ministry said Saturday. It is unclear exactly how many people were released.
Johnson called it “scandalous” that the files were deleted on Wednesday, but said the government is “working hard” to get the lost files back.
The database is used intensively in police investigations. Investigators can check data about people, vehicles and crimes. For example, they can use the system to find out whether specific people are being searched for crimes.