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Recordable offences

Introduction

The phrase ‘recordable offence’ is used a lot when it comes to police records.

What is a recordable offence?

Generally, an offence that could result in imprisonment is classed as a recordable offence (i.e. an indictable or triable-either-way offence). There are also some more minor summary offences that are designated as recordable. This additional set of specified offences has grown over time and is now substantial.

For example, the National Police Records (Recordable Offences) Regulations 2000 sets out that convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings are regarded as ‘recordable offences’ if the offence could be punishable with imprisonment. It also sets out a list of specific offences that are also deemed recordable.

Where a conviction is recordable, any other conviction obtained in the same proceedings will also be recorded.

Non-recordable offences are generally held on local police records although, depending on local arrangements, some non-recordable offences may also be uploaded to the PNC, particularly when dealt with at the same time as a recordable offence. An example could be when someone is convicted of driving without insurance (a non-recordable offence) at the same time as being convicted of drink driving (a recordable offence).

The Ministry of Justice used to publish a full list of indictable and trail either way offences on their website, although this is not currently available. A list of summary offences which are regarded as recordable can be found in this document, provided to Unlock by the Ministry of Justice.

Examples of specified recordable offences (non-imprisonable)

  • Making a false statement in connection with an application for a sex establishment licence (paragraph 21 of Schedule 3 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982)
  • Failure to co-operate with a preliminary (roadside) test (section 6 of the Road Traffic Act 1988)
  • Taking a pedal cycle without consent (section 12 of the Theft Act 1968)
  • Falsely claiming a professional qualification (section 44 of the Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001)

Examples of non-recordable offences

  • Non-payment of TV licence (section 363 of the Communications Act 2003)
  • Careless driving (section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988)
  • Driving without insurance (section 143 of the Road Traffic Act 1988)
  • Reproducing British currency notes (section 18 of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981)
  • Breach of the Data Protection Act (section 55, Data Protection Act 1998)

Between 40-45% of all criminal offence convictions each year are for non-recordable offences.

How do I know if my offence was for a recordable offence?

The rules around what is and isn’t recordable are quite complicated, and have changed over the years.

If you are not sure whether your offence is classed as recordable or not, and so are unclear whether it’s held on the PNC, the best thing to do is to apply to your local police force for a police subject access request.

Does it matter?

The police are not able to take or retain your DNA or fingerprints if the only reason you’re arrested is for an offence which is not recordable.

Any conviction that results from an non-recordable offence is unlikely to be recorded on the PNC, unless it is alongside a recordable offence.

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Debbie Sadler
Helpline lead

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