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Police records – Subject access request

The easiest and cheapest way to find out your criminal record is to apply for a copy of your police records from the Police.

You’re entitled to exercise your rights to obtain information that is held about you under the Data Protection Act 1998. This process is known as a Subject Access Request.

Although this relates to lots of different government agencies, in relation to the police, a subject access request is your right of access to verify the information held about you on police computers.

A subject access request to the Police National Computer will either provide a certificate stating that there is currently no information held about you on the Police National Computer, or it will provide a list of all the information held on the computer including all convictions, whether they are spent or unspent.

You can also choose to ask to see what is held locally by the Police. This can include arrests, allegations, and Not Guilty findings

This page will explain this in more detail.


Police Subject Access Request  (often referred to as “Police records” )

Issued by

Local police force (or ACRO, who disclose PNC data on behalf of most forces) under the Data Protection Act 1998


To establish what information the Police hold on you for your own purposes to ensure that police information is accurate.

What it contains

Details of all personal information which the Police hold on you, including what is held on the PNC and what is held on local police records (depending on what information you ask to see)

How to apply

  • You can apply via your local Police Force. Each police force normally has a form to complete, which is usually available online but can also be requested in writing.
  • ACRO provides Subject Access disclosures from the Police National Computer on behalf of most police forces in England and Wales (apart from Derbyshire, Gwent and Sussex), Northern Ireland, Jersey and the Isle of Man.  Requests can be made by post or online. Details of both can be found here. ACRO also have a useful further guidance page providing additional information on SAR’s.
  • If you want a copy of all of your personal data, you should make sure that you request to see both PNC data and any information held locally by your local police force.

If you apply online via ACRO, you can choose to get the details sent by email.


Who can apply for it

You only.

You should not be required by anybody else to provide a copy of your police records to them. If this happens, you should read our guidance on enforced subject access.

Contact details

You will need to contact the Data Protection team at your local Police Force. Links are available here. Many requests relate to information held on the PNC, and the majority of these are dealt with by ACRO. Their contact details are below:

A: ACRO (SAO), PO Box 623, Fareham, Hampshire, PO14 9HR

T: 02380 479 920


Free of charge.

How long it takes

Within one calendar month.

Where it is sent

To you only. Subject Access disclosures (Police records) are not designed to be used by employers as the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act are not applied (see ‘Other information’)

Link to anonymous examples

SAR (PNC) front page
Click above image to go to a readable version of this letter and four examples pages of a Police Record – SAR.

How to correct inaccurate information

If you feel the information in inaccurate, you will need to contact the police force who holds the information outlining the inaccurate information. Each Chief Police Officer is the Data Controller for their PNC record, and has the ability to delete information. There is an exceptional case procedure, but this is normally confined to deleting local police information such as allegations.

Enforced subject access

It was announced in early 2014 that the final elements of the Police Act 1997 will take effect. With this comes the news that enforced subject access will be a criminal offence. This came into force on 10th March 2015. Read more here.


Add Comment
    1. Hi Julie

      You can get a copy of your criminal record by applying for a Subject Access Request (SAR) to ACRO Criminal Records Office – The SAR is free of charge and the police ask you to allow 30 days in which to return it to you. It’s important to note that SAR’s should not be passed to employers, insurers etc – the information is essentially ‘for your eyes only’.

      Best wishes


  1. Does the SAR return all of the information returned on a Police Certificate, or does the Police Certificate go further? Eg. if an SAR comes back with no data held, does that mean the Police Certificate will also come back with no data / no trace?

    1. Hi Joe

      Your SAR will show every interaction you’ve had with the police whereas your Police Certificate will only disclose cautions or convictions which have NOT been ‘stepped down’. If there is nothing on your SAR then your Police Certificate will merely state ‘No Trace’.

      Best wishes


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