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HNK Solicitors obtain £10,900 for a Claimant following the unlawful retention of their data by Police

If the police arrest you and then release you without charge or conviction, or you have received an outcome of no further action, they should remove any of the personal data they collected from you from their systems. Provided you do not have any other convictions or pending prosecutions, if the police retain your data under these circumstances, you could be eligible to claim compensation.

Unlawful retention of your data is a breach of your data protection and human rights. Reportedly, Police forces are unlawfully storing the sensitive data of millions of people who have never been charged with a crime. A lot of the data collected by police is uploaded to the Police National Database/Police National Computer, which can be searched and accessed by other organisations, potentially causing serious consequences for those in the system who should not be as they have not been charged with a crime.

This shows a lack of regard as it could have a detrimental impact on the lives of those who have had their data unlawfully retained. This unlawfully retained data could cause them issues with job, university or housing applications, and child custody arrangements, and cause significant distress to the individual.

In this article, we outline the details of a case we have recently taken on in which we successfully obtained £10,900 for a claimant whose data was unlawfully retained by Bedfordshire Police. After our client was arrested and released with an outcome of ‘no further action’, Bedfordshire Police did not remove the claimant’s data which led to them suffering significant distress and inconvenience.

Background of the case

Our client referred to as ‘W’, was arrested by Bedfordshire Police (“the Defendant”), and, following the arrest of W, the Defendant subsequently found that W had not committed any crime, was released with no further investigation and received an outcome of ‘no further action’.

However, the Defendant went on to retain W’s personal data, which included:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Ethnicity
  • DOB
  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Telephone number
  • Biometric data (special category data)
Image of many files of information up on a digital screen.

The law around unlawful retention of data

The Data Protection Act 2018 and the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) both impose extensive and detailed requirements on organisations that store, process and retain personal data.

One part of those extensive and detailed requirements is covered in Part 3 and sections 35 to 42 of the Data Protection Act 2018 and implements an obligation to ensure that personal data that is processed for law enforcement purposes is in a manner that is lawful, fair and for the ‘prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties, including safeguarding against and the prevention of threat to public security’.

Any breach of the above obligations entitles those who are affected to claim compensation for the distress and inconvenience suffered as a direct result of the unlawful retention of your personal data.

The details of the claim

W approached HNK Solicitors in September 2023, and we accepted instruction on a no-win, no-fee basis.

HNK Solicitors claimed damages for breaches of legal obligations under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the Human Rights Act 1998.

A letter of claim was served on the Defendant. The Defendant, in response, admitted that W is eligible for their personal data to be removed from the Police National Computer (PNC) and local police records.

The Defendant, in response to the submissions in the Letter of Claim, made W a settlement offer for £2,500 inclusive of the payment of their reasonable legal costs.

However, HNK Solicitors, as a result of expertise and experience in this specialised area of law, took instructions from W regarding how the breach had affected them.

W confirmed that, as a result of the breach, he had suffered from several symptoms, including anxiety, stress, anger, annoyance, frustration and sleepless nights. W was also concerned that their personal details have also been shared with social services and their daughter’s school following their arrest.

Furthermore, W was unable to have unsupervised contact with their daughter, nor collect her from school, causing W considerable distress and inconvenience.

In addition, W has attended well-being services in an attempt to alleviate their symptoms of anxiety from the continued retention of his personal data.

HNK Solicitors advised W of the value of their claim for the distress and inconvenience the retention of their personal data has caused them and advised W to put forward a reasonable offer of settlement to resolve the matter.

Negotiations took place between the parties and the claim was settled for a total sum of £10,900 in full and final settlement of their claim for damages and legal costs.

A picture of three police detectives stood around a PC with a persons information file up with details about them and a picture of a man.

HNK Solicitors can help with your unlawful retention of data claim 

If you have been arrested and subsequently released without charge or conviction, or received an outcome of no further action, providing you do not have any other convictions or impending prosecutions, you may be eligible for compensation for distress suffered by the unlawful retention of your personal data.

If the above applies to you, please contact our Data Protection department on 0151 203 1104 or email to see if we can assist you with obtaining compensation on your behalf.

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