The Police National Computer (PNC) is the main database used by the Police force in the United Kingdom. It plays a vital role during the DBS checking process, as we will discuss below.
What is on the Police National Computer?
The Police National Computer (PNC) is a collection of databases containing information relevant to policing.
It is used to help investigations by providing real-time checks on individuals, vehicles, crimes, property, and Schengen Information System II Alerts. Examples include:
- Persons Wanted for Extradition (Found in Article 26).
- Missing Persons (Found in Article 32).
- People Wanted for Judicial Purposes (Found in Article 34).
- People or Vehicles Requiring Discreet Checks (Found in Article 36).
- Misappropriated, Lost or Stolen Objects Sought for the Purposes of Seizure or Evidential Purposes (Found in Article 38).
Who Can Access the Police National Computer?
All police forces and law enforcement agencies across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, The Isle of Man and The Channel Islands have access to the Police National Computer, but it’s not just law enforcement agencies who can access it.
A number of other agencies have permission, such as The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), the HM Prison Service, HMRC, The House of Commons, The House of Lords, The Home Office and the Royal Mail.
Why Does the Police National Computer Hold Information?
A person’s PNC record contains a list of:
- Full Names.
- Date of Birth.
- Arrest summons numbers.
- Whether a DNA sample has been taken.
- The Arresting Officer.
- Convictions & Arrests.
The Police National Computer may also hold additional information relating to people-of-interest to UK Law Enforcement Agencies because they:
- Have convictions or cautions for criminal offences (Including youth warnings/reprimands).
- Are wanted by authorities.
- Possess a firearm certificate.
- Have court orders made against them.
- Are currently, or have at some point been, missing.
- Have absconded from certain institutions (such as prison).
- Have been disqualified from driving by a court.
- Have a driver record held at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
- Are subject to the legal process, such as waiting to appear in court.
What is a PNC check?
We get this question a lot; a PNC check isn’t a type of document or an official check – it simply refers to the process of checking the PNC during a DBS check. This is standard procedure, and occurs for every type of DBS check.
If you’ve been asked to provide a PNC check, then there’s a good chance they meant to say “DBS check”.
The flowchart below shows the stages of the DBS check process, with Police National Computer checks at stage 2.
Can I Check the Police National Computer?
Only the police and a selection of official government & security bodies have access to the PNC, so, on the face of it, it is not possible for an individual to get a PNC check.
However, a Subject Access Request (SAR) is a way to see what information the PNC contains about you. This is essentially a freedom-of-information request for any & all PNC information about yourself.
How Long are Records Kept on the Police National Computer?
Since 2006, all police records of arrest have been kept on the PNC unless an individual can show an ‘exceptional case’ for the removal of their record. Anyone who is arrested, and an offence is recorded will have a record created on the Police National Computer (PNC) which will be retained until they reach age 100.
Can You Delete Records From the Police National Computer?
It is possible to have items deleted from the PNC if the individual can provide evidence of good grounds for deletion.
If they can prove that a police caution was unlawfully issued, or that it is not in the public interest, the caution may be deleted from the PNC, but it is not a certainty.
How Does Information Held on the PNC Affect a DBS Check?
As mentioned, the PNC holds information regarding convictions against an individual, including both spent and unspent ones.
When a DBS Check is submitted, the PNC is checked, regardless of whether it is a Basic, Standard, or Enhanced DBS request.
- A Basic DBS check will show unspent convictions and/or conditional cautions.
- A Standard or Enhanced DBS Check will show both spent and unspent convictions/cautions.
Therefore, the PNC plays a large role in any, and every, DBS check which is done! The information on the PNC can help employers decide on whether they should hire the candidate once they receive the results of the DBS certificate.
The PNC: Conclusion
So, this is our guide to what is the Police National Computer. If you have other questions about anything relating to the DBS, the answer to your question may be on our help and advice page.
For further reading about DBS subjects, why not check out one of our latest articles, What is a Fit and Proper Person Test? or our informative article on spent and unspent convictions, Spent and Unspent Convictions. What’s the Difference?
To get in touch regarding DBS Checks with Aaron’s Department, feel free to give one of our team a call on 0113 877 0171, or email email@example.com