Home Office calls for improved guides

Police need better guidance on how to interpret the Data Protection
Act 1998 so they know what information to store and when to share
it, the Home Office admitted last week.

In its written submission to the Bichard Inquiry into how Ian
Huntley was allowed to get a job as a caretaker, the Home Office
said additional and clearer guidance to forces on the implications
of the act for the retention and use of criminal and local
intelligence information was needed.

The inquiry, which begins next week, will hear from witnesses from
North East Lincolnshire social services, Humberside and
Cambridgeshire police forces, the Criminal Records Bureau and the
Home Office.

A working group chaired by the Home Office that includes
information commissioner Richard Thomas and representatives from
the Association of Chief Police Officers is now looking at how the
guidelines on data sharing can be improved.

The Home Office said there had been discussions among ministers
about establishing a national database. This would hold soft
information, such as cautions and police warnings, and could be
accessed by police forces throughout England and Wales.

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