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Unlock Category: 3. Ways to find out about your criminal record

DVLA records of driving offences and how they’re shared

 

On this page:

Aim of this information

This information is designed to set out how motoring offences and convictions are recorded by the DVLA and what details are shared with third parties.

We have separate information about how motoring offences and motoring convictions are treated under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

Why is this important?

Knowing what information an insurance company or an employer is allowed to access and what is likely to be disclosed will ensure that:-

  • You do not provide more information than third parties are entitled to and risk being unfairly discriminated against or
  • You do not fail to disclose something which you are legally required to disclose which may result in the loss of a job, a job offer being revoked or insurance policies becoming invalid.

Introduction

On the 8th June 2015, the DVLA scrapped the paper counterparts for driving licences and issued photo card licences only.

The DVLA advises that:-

  • If you hold a paper counterpart, then it no longer has any legal status and should be destroyed. You only need to keep the photo card driving licence.
  • Paper licences issued before photo cards were introduced in 1998 will remain valid and should not be destroyed.

Any new penalty points (endorsements) issued from the 8th June 2015 will be recorded electronically only. This information will be held on your DVLA driver record and can be viewed online via the DVLA’s Shared Driving Licence Service.

How can I access details of my driving record?

The DVLA’s Shared Driving Licence service will continue to hold information for the same length of time as paper licences did. The length of time a motoring offence stays on your licence is governed by road traffic legislation and will generally be either 4 or 11 years. This is entirely separate to the time it takes for motoring convictions to become spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

You can use the DVLA Shared Driving Licence Service to:-

  • View your driving record, e.g. which vehicles you can drive
  • Check any penalty points or disqualifications you have
  • Create a licence ‘check code’ to share your driving record with a third party, i.e. a car hire company or employer.

How can third parties access details of my driving record?

Employers

If your employer asks you to provide evidence of your driving record (for example, because you drive as part of your job or you will have access to a company car) then it is possible for you to share your driving record by accessing the DVLA Shared Driving Licence Service.

Once you have accessed the DVLA site, it is possible to generate a ‘check code’ which you can then pass on to the person or organisation that needs to view your driving licence details. The code lasts for up to 21 days and you can have up to 15 active check codes at any one time. Alternatively, there are other ways codes can be generated.

Based on our understanding, it seems like your employer will not be able to see details of any offences or endorsements where the motoring conviction the offence relates to has become spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

For this reason, it is important that if you have motoring convictions still on your driver record but these are technically spent, that you provide the employer with a ‘code’ to enable them to check your driving record (which should remove the spent convictions) rather than you print a copy of your driving record and give it to them (which will might have the spent convictions on there due to DVLA retention periods).

Car hire companies

You should check with individual car hire companies about what information they require. If you are asked for evidence of what vehicles you can drive or confirmation of any penalty points then you can generate a ‘check code’ from the DVLA Shared Driving Licence Service which you can pass onto the hire company. As above, it seems like this will remove details of any offences or endorsements where the motoring conviction the offence relates to has become spent.   

Generating ‘check codes’

When generating ‘check codes’, you will be given the option to download a summary of your driving licence record which can be printed off and given to employers or car hire companies. We wouldn’t recommend this option as you will be printing your full record and potentially disclosing spent as well as unspent motoring convictions to employers and car hire companies.

Insurance companies

During 2015 many insurance companies rolled out MyLicence (the brand name for the Insurance Industry Access to Driver Data database) which provides details of:-

  • Type of licence held
  • Length of time the licence has been held
  • Entitlements to drive
  • Penalty points
  • Convictions and conviction dates
  • Disqualifications

It is not currently used by all insurers, brokers or price comparison websites but those who do use it will ask you to provide them with your driving licence number and the driving licence number for all named drivers. This information is used to immediately check details with the DVLA driver database.

MyLicence will not share the details of spent convictions, even if they remain on your driving record.

What does this mean for people with motoring convictions?

  • The DVLA Shared Driving Licence service will continue to hold information for the same time as paper licences and in accordance with road traffic legislation. However, convictions which are spent under the ROA should not be disclosed to employers and car hire companies through the ‘check codes’ process.
  • If you’ve got motoring convictions on your record, it’s more likely that you’ll get found out if you don’t disclose them when required to do so, particularly if the conviction is unspent and you’re applying for insurance as many insurance companies and brokers may ask your permission to access your driver records from the MyLicence site.
  • It’s important to remember that you do not need to disclose spent convictions to an insurer, even if they remain on your driving record.

For more information

  1. Practical self-help information – More information on motoring convictions and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 can be found here.
  2. Discuss the issue – Read and share your experiences on our online forum.

Get involved

  1. Comment on this information (below)
  2. Send your feedback directly to us.
  3. Discuss your views and experiences with others on our online peer forum

Enforced subject access

Summary

‘Enforced subject access’ (under section 184 of the Data Protection Act 2018) prevents employers from requiring people to use their subject access rights under the DPA to provide certain records, such as police records, as a condition of employment. It also prevents contracts from requiring certain records as a condition for providing or receiving a service, such as housing or insurance. Requiring people to provide these records will become a criminal offence, punishable by a fine. In England and Wales the maximum financial penalty on summary conviction in the magistrates’ court is £5,000 (soon to be unlimited). On indictment in the Crown Court the fine can be unlimited.

We’ve long argued that section 184 needs to be brought into force, but this wasn’t ever possible until reforms to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 were brought in on the 10th March 2014. Section 184 came into force on the 10th March 2015.

For people with convictions, this is an important development. Although it doesn’t prevent employers and others from getting access to criminal records through legitimate means, what section 56 does do is prevent the use of significant amounts of sensitive personal data that can be disclosed as part of a subject access request.

In the past, we’ve come across examples where employers, insurers, education providers and housing providers have required people provide copies of their police record by applying to the police and paying £10 for a subject access request. This type of request discloses all information held on the Police National Computer, including convictions and cautions that are spent, as well as allegations or other ‘local police information’.

The introduction of section 184 will enable a clearer message to be given to any organisation that is found to be undertaking this type of practice. The legislation only allows requirements of this type where the record is required by law or is justified in the public interest.

Frequently asked questions

No. It means that an employer can’t make you do a ‘subject access request’ under the Data Protection Act to get a copy of your police record.

Depending on the job, an employer will still be able (if they wish) to require you to undergo a basic, standard or enhanced criminal record check.

What you should do will depend on the reason for the request. For example, if it’s for a job that would be eligible for a standard or enhanced check, then you might advise them of that. If not, then it might be that they’re only allowed to ask you to do a basic disclosure. Ultimately, you should be able to refuse to do it. Use the guidance above to help you. Either way, if you have evidence of them requiring you to do an enforced subject access, send us the details.

This is the phrase that is used to describe the process of obtaining a copy of the records that organisations hold on you. In this context, it’s mainly referring to you obtaining a copy of your police record.

Yes. This means that insurers will no longer require you to provide a copy of your police record. Instead, if they do require any form of official record of unspent convictions, they may ask you to consent to a basic disclosure.

Yes. It applies to any individual or organisation that ‘requires’ you to do a subject access request. For example, housing associations will no longer be able to require you to obtain a copy of your police record.

Yes. In guidance to schools it’s been made clear that they cannot require individuals to obtain police records of either themselves or those that live or work in the same household as them.

Yes. Under the 2003 Licensing Act Guidance (4.6) Regulations, in order to substantiate whether or not an applicant has a conviction for an unspent relevant offence, a licensing authority can, for the granting of a personal licence request a criminal conviction certificate, a criminal record certificate (both of these are basic DBS checks), or the results of a subject access search of the Police National Computer by the National Identification Service to the licensing authority. This means that whilst an enforced subject access request is now illegal, it can be requested for the granting of a personal licence. We would always recommend that when applying for a personal licence, you provide a basic DBS check rather than a SAR which would disclose the details of all convictions rather than just those which are unspent.

Other useful resources

ICO guidance on enforced subject access requests

DBS Adult First Check

Name

DBS Adult First

Issued by

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

Use

DBS Adult First allows employers to check applicants against the DBS Adults’ Barred List. Dependant on the result of the check, this service allows an applicant to start work under supervision whilst waiting for their full DBS Certificate.

What it contains

An email will be sent to an employer giving 2 possible outcomes;

‘No match exists for this person on the DBS Adults Barred List’

This means the applicant can start work in a supervised capacity until the full enhanced disclosure is produced.

or

‘Please wait for the DBS Certificate before making a recruitment decision regarding this applicant’

In this case the applicant is not able to start straight away. No details are given at this stage as to why this response has been given, however, it does not necessarily mean that the person is barred. It could mean for example that:

  1. A person with a similar name or date of birth shows a match on the list or
  2. There is some criminal conviction information which would need to be seen by the employer in order for them to make a more informed recruitment decision.

How to apply

The DBS Adult First is part of the Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check and cannot be applied for separately. At the stage where the Enhanced DBS application form is sent off for processing, employers can apply for the DBS Adult First on an applicant’s behalf.

Who can apply for it?

The service is exclusive to those positions governed by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), and requests for the check must fulfil strict qualifying criteria and are permissible only where it is necessary to take such action because of a real danger of staffing levels falling below statutory obligations.

The DBS Adult First is a service that can be used in cases where, exceptionally, and in accordance with the terms of the Department of Health guidance, a person is permitted to start work with adults before a DBS Certificate has been obtained. This applies to adult services where DBS Certificates are required by law, such as;

  • Care homes
  • Domiciliary care agencies
  • Adult placement schemes

Cost

£6.00

How long does it take

Approximately 72 hours

Where is it sent

To the employer via email

Other Information

A DBS Adult First check is not appropriate where a person intends to work with both children and adults. Those working with both groups would need to wait for the DBS Certificate to be returned to find out whether a person is barred from working with children. There is no equivalent quick check of the children’s barred list.

 

 

Police certificate

Name

Police certificate

Issued by

The National Police Chiefs’ Council Criminal Records Office (often referred to as ACRO)

Use

For individuals that wish to emigrate to a number of countries, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Cayman Islands, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States of America.

They are also used to obtain a visa for immigration purposes (e.g. travel to the US for tourism purposes)

What it contains

All convictions, reprimands, warnings and cautions recorded on UK Police systems, although it doesn’t disclose anything that is eligible to be ‘stepped down’. Read more about this below and see the guidelines that set out when things are stepped down.

How to apply

Visit the Police Certificate section of the ACRO website to view the application form and guidance notes.

Who can apply for it

Anyone who has lived in the UK for any length of time, regardless of nationality

Contact details

A: ACRO (SAO), PO Box 623, Fareham, Hampshire, PO14 9HR
T: 02380 479 920
E: customer.services@acro.pnn.police.uk
W: www.acro.police.uk

Cost

£55 (standard service) and £95 (premium service)

How long it takes

The standard service takes 10 working days and the premium service takes 2 working days, not including dates of receipt or dispatch.

However, if you are due to travel shortly, ACRO suggest that you may want to consider the premium service. However, if you have an arrest/conviction on your record and are using a police certificate to go through an approval process (such as applying for a visa to travel to the US), it is unlikely that, at such short notice, you will be able to complete the other steps in the process.

Where it is sent

It is sent to the applicant at the address requested on the application form

A sample certificate

Click the image above to increase the size.  

How to correct inaccurate information

If you feel the information is inaccurate, you will need to contact your local Police Force 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.

My police certificate doesn’t contain some details that it should / I’ve got a ‘No Live Trace’; what should I do?

If you have been arrested and/or convicted in the UK and your Police Certificate states “No Trace” or “No Live Trace” (or does not list in full your arrests/convictions), you might still be required to provide details (e.g. when applying for a visa). You may want to apply to the individual court to obtain a record of all convictions and any charges pending.

‘No Trace’ means that you have no convictions, reprimands, final warnings or cautions held on the Police National Computer.

‘No Live Trace’ means that there is criminal record information held on the Police National Computer but it has been ‘stepped down‘.  Anyone who sees this and understands this phrase can assume that you have a criminal record from the past, even if they can’t see the details. If this applies to you, we advise that you contact ACRO to obtain details of the conviction information that was not disclosed on your Certificate.  If you have requested a Police Certificate for travel purposes, many Embassies will require this detail in order to make a decision on whether or not they should issue you with a visa.  Once you receive the undisclosed information from ACRO you will be required to contact the relevant Embassy and disclose your previous conviction/s.

Once the Embassy has this information they will contact ACRO to verify that the conviction details you have provided them with are correct.  They will do this in the form of an email quoting what details you have provided and asking ACRO to confirm whether it is correct or not.  ACRO can only confirm or deny what has been related by the Embassy.  If the information you have provided isn’t correct, the Embassy will ask you to contact ACRO again in order to go through your conviction details so they can be re-submitted to the relevant Embassy.

The Embassies use this process to gauge honesty and integrity and whether you have presented yourself as someone of general good character.

 

Can I get “No Live Trace” changed to “No Trace”?

Probably not. As mentioned in the question above, people with “No Live Trace” can be concerned that others will know that this means they have a criminal records.

The step-down process is not set out in legislation – so ACRO do not legally have to operate it. For police certificates, the alternative would be a certificate that contained all convictions and cautions. Unfortunately, we think that any challenge to the fact that “No Live Trace” suggests there is a criminal record on file is unlikely to be successful.

 

Other information

  • Applications for other countries may be accepted subject to confirmation by the applicant of acceptance by the relevant Embassy, High Commission or requiring organisation
  • ACRO are currently piloting this initiative, which provides police certificates for visa purposes. This police certificate is issued solely for immigration purposes and shows details of arrests and convictions. It covers the whole of the United Kingdom and is sent to the address provided at the time of the application. It is different to a Subject Access Request (SAR), which can be used to find out any details held on the Police National Computer, including allegations
  • More information about Police Certificates is available here
  • ACRO still apply the principles of the step-down process when processing Police Certificates. More information on step-down is available here

 

International Child Protection Certificate (for working overseas)

Name

International Child Protection Certificate

Issued by

ACPO Criminal Records Office

Use

It is for UK nationals and residents that are working overseas. It is designed for organisations that are unable to get a Disclosure & Barring Service certificate, because these can only be done by organisations that are linked to a UK registered body that have access to a DBS check.

What it contains

It checks the PNC (E&W), Criminal History System (Scotland), Causeway (Northern Ireland).

It will contain all convictions and cautions, unless they have been stepped down, when the certificate will show “No Live Trace”.

It will also contain any pending prosecutions you may have.

How to apply

You can download the application form from the ACRO website.

Who can apply for it?

You as an individual apply for it. It gets sent back to you.

Cost

£75

How long does it take

10 days.

Where is it sent

To you as an individual.

Other information

If an applicant for an ICPC is found to have a record indicating a sexual interest in children, the application will be referred to the NCA’s CEOP Command to deal with in line with usual operating procedures prior to any certificate being issued. At the moment, we have very little evidence about how this element works in practice.

Magistrate Court record

Name

Magistrate Court record

Issued by

The Magistrate Court that you were convicted and/or sentenced at

Use

For official details of the outcome of a case that you were involved in. It is particularly useful if you have only ever been to court once.

What it contains

Written or oral information about certain material in a case file, or copies of any documents served to the court by you or served to you by the court, or information about any direction or order directed to you, or made on an application by you, or information about the outcome of the case.

If the court permits, any further information that the court holds may be supplied, but this additional information must be specifically requested.  See Criminal Procedure Rules 2012, Part 5, here

How to apply

By making an application directly to the court officer of the issuing court, specifying the information or document required, and paying any prescribed fee. You should make the application in writing, and explain why you want the information. In certain instances, a request may be made orally and information also given orally by the court to the applicant.

Who can apply for it

A person who is, or was a party to a particular court case

Contact details

The convicting/sentencing court. Click here to use the HM Courts & Tribunals Services Court Finder

Cost

Free of charge currently

How long it takes

Between 5 to 10 working days from the time of the application being received by the court

Where it is sent

To you only

Link to anonymous example

Not available

How to correct inaccurate information

You would need to write to the court of sentence, outlining the areas you wish to have amended, and providing as much information as possible in order that this can be checked against the court register or file

Other information

  • This will only contain case-specific information from the convicting court, and so does not necessarily reflect your entire criminal record.
  • A Memorandum of Conviction may be more appropriate for certain categories of applicants and may be issued to a specified person for a specified purpose. It will usually contain key details of a conviction. Subject to any legislative requirements, a person who wants such a certificate must apply in writing to the court officer, specify the certificate or extract that is required, explain under what legislation and for what purpose it is required, and pay any prescribed fee (this is currently £60). A certificate will only contain information held by the convicting court. See Criminal Procedure Rules 2012, Part 5, here.
  • The supply of court records may also be subject to varying legislative provisions and these will be considered before the court agrees to release any information to an applicant.

 

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.

Name

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

Use

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
E: customer.services@acro.pnn.police.uk
W: www.acro.police.uk

Cost

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.

Prison records

Name

Prison Subject Access Request (often referred to as “Prison Records”)

Issued by

Ministry of Justice Data Access & Compliance Unit

Use

To establish what information prisons (including the Governor, security department, education staff and the healthcare department) have on their files about you

What it contains

Details of all personal information which the Prison Service holds on their records about you. This includes details of transfers and parole dossier information along with the activities you were involved in whilst being housed in each of these establishments

How to apply

In writing to the Ministry of Justice Data Access and Compliance Unit

Who can apply for it

You only

Contact details

A: Ministry of Justice, Data Access and Compliance Unit (DACU), Postal Point 10.31, Floor 10, 102 Petty France, London, SW1H 9AJ
E: 

Cost

Free. However, they can charge a reasonable fee for administrative costs if they think the request is ‘manifestly unfounded or excessive’.

How long it takes

Approximately 40 working days

Where it is sent

To you only

Link to anonymous example

Not available

How to correct inaccurate information

You would need to write to the Data Access and Compliance Unit, highlighting the particular area of the file you take issue with. If you have any further information or documentation which supports your request then this should also be enclosed along with your covering letter. Upon receipt a confirmation letter will be sent, and a letter detailing the outcome will follow

Other information

If you are a serving prisoner you should enclose an authority for the DACU to deduct the £10 fee from your prisoner monies account and sufficient details to enable the DACU to trace your records.  This should include your full name, date of birth, prison number and name of the prison you currently reside in. If you have served a previous custodial sentence you should also provide details of your time in custody relating to this period.  If you are currently in prison, you may be able to make the application internally. More details are available in PSI 44/2014.

If you have been released from prison, you should provide details of your time in custody which should include your full name, date of birth, prison number, dates and name of the prison(s) you were held in.  You will also need to include the relevant fee and ID.

Acceptable forms of ID include photocopies of recent utility bills (not more than 6 months old) or bank statements or photocopies of the photograph page of a passport or driving licence.

If you are requesting personal data on another person’s behalf, you will need to satisfy the above criteria plus include a signed consent from the person who the data concerns.

Probation records

Name

Probation records (often referred to a “Probation Subject Access Request”)

Issued by

Local Probation Trust

Use

To see what information the Probation Trust hold on their records about you

What it contains

Any information or records which the Probation hold on their system about you. This may relate to pre-sentence reports, OASys assessments, parole dossier information and hostel reports

How to apply

Local Probation Trust

Who can apply for it

Only the person whom the information is relevant to can apply

Contact details

You can find a list of all the Probation Trusts here

Cost

£10

How long it takes

Can take up to 40 working days

Where it is sent

To you only

Link to anonymous example

probation

How to correct inaccurate information

You would need to write directly to the local Probation Trust outlining the areas which you take issue with. They would then assess this inaccuracy against any information you have provided them with and return their findings to you via letter.

 

Getting a copy of your DBS records

Name

DBS records (often referred to a “DBS Subject Access Request”)

Issued by

Disclosure and Barring Service

Use

To see what information the DBS hold on their records about you. It can be useful if, for some reason, you no longer have a copy of the disclosure certificate that an employer undertook on you. Subject Access is a right provided under Section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998 whereby any individual can ask any organisation what information they hold on them.

What it contains

This application will only return something if you have previously had a check carried out on you.

A subject access request to the DBS will provide you with copies of previous application forms, system notes, correspondence held and a print out of what was contained on the certificate(s). Please note – the printout is not a duplicate certificate; it provides a copy of what was released on the certificate in a different format. It should provide you with evidence of each check that has been completed on you and if any conviction information has been released on the certificate it would appear on the print out. The application form would also show the name of the organisation that submitted the check(s)

How to apply

Obtain a Subject Access application form from the DBS, enclosing any necessary identity documents and the appropriate fee via cheque or postal order.

Who can apply for it

Only the person whom the information is relevant to can apply

Contact details

A: DBS Subject Access Team, Policy Department, PO Box 165, Liverpool, L69 3JD
T: 0151 676 1154
E: subjectaccess@dbs.gsi.gov.uk

Cost

£10

How long it takes

Up to 40 calendar days

Where it is sent

To you.

Link to anonymous example

Not available

How to correct inaccurate information

  • If you need to correct inaccurate personal information, such as your name, date of birth or address, you need to raise a data entry dispute. More details are available here
  • However, if it is that your conviction details are incorrect or inaccurate, you need to raise a data source dispute. This can be done online (you complete the form electronically, print and submit it by post). Alternatively, you can request a disputes form by post by calling 0870 9090 811.

Other information

The DBS does not hold a copy of the Police National Computer (PNC) record of convictions. The system held by the DBS is known as a PNC Extract. The extract contains basic identifying details such as name and date of birth of persons included on the PNC. The extract does not contain any conviction information. The police both own and maintain the Police National Computer.

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