NFA – Understanding Police Records: Local, National & Biometric Records.

If you’ve been involved in an investigation, it’s important to know what happens with your police records, especially if the outcome is a “No Further Action” (NFA) decision. Let’s break down the key points in easy-to-understand terms:

  1. NFA on the Police National Computer: When an NFA decision is made, significant details are not usually recorded on the Police National Computer. However, a marker might indicate that a local police force holds information about you. If you were on bail during the investigation, that fact might have been noted. Usually, information about bail is removed from the Police National Computer, but the file marker remains. If you’re concerned, you can ask your local police force or ACRO (the Criminal Records Office) to ensure the bail-related information has been deleted.
  2. Biometrics (Fingerprints, DNA, and Photos): In the event of an NFA decision, fingerprints and DNA collected during custody are automatically deleted from the system after 28 days. Some people receive incorrect information about this, but the process is governed by law and handled automatically by the systems. If the police want to keep the biometric data, they must apply to the biometrics commissioner within 28 days of the NFA decision. You don’t need to take any action for the deletion to occur, as it’s legally mandated since 2012.
  3. Custody Records and Custody Images: If an NFA decision is made, you can request the deletion of the custody images (mugshots) from your custody file, and they might comply (often they do as they have access to other images of you anyway …DVLA for example). However, the custody record itself is rarely deleted, except in cases of mistaken identity. If you were falsely accused but still the intended person of the arrest, the custody record will be retained since it documents your time spent in custody.
  4. Local Records: During an investigation, various documents are generated and compiled in a file. This file typically includes statements from all parties involved, interviews (written or recorded), digital evidence, officers’ notes, custody records without mugshots (however, if they obtained other photos of you as part of the investigation these will have been retained), and any other relevant information. It’s like a case folder with all details related to your case, including any communication with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The file will end with a copy of the NFA decision.
  5. Reopening an Investigation: The NFA letter you receive (or should receive) may mention the possibility of reopening the investigation if new evidence emerges. In that case, they will reopen the existing file rather than starting from scratch.
  6. Your Access to the File: Although the police retain the file as their work product, you have the right to request access to it through a subject access request. However, keep in mind that some information may be redacted to protect the privacy of others or maintain ongoing investigations.

By understanding how police records are handled after an NFA decision, you can be better informed about your rights and the process involved.