The accuracy of convictions stored on the Police National Computer (PNC) has been questioned after the courts service apologised when two offences were wrongly recorded against a defendant.
The error led to a woman who had not at that stage been tried gaining a criminal record for offences relating to a violent crime she denied, and took three months for her lawyers to correct. It was dismissed by HM Courts and Tribunal Service as a “slip”.
The case, which recently came to trial, highlights the fact that mistakes can occur in the system that is supposed to be the ultimate authority on criminal records in England and Wales.
A lawyer involved in the case reported hearing of other mistakes on the same day. Checks are supposed to be in place to ensure criminal convictions are correctly recorded.
Three months after the convictions were entered on to the PNC, the courts service, HMCTS, sent the woman a letter apologising for the error.The Guardian is not identifying the individual affected.
It stated: “Very occasionally, there can be a slip in the digital system. Our records suggest that this must unfortunately have applied on … in your case.”
The letter said a detective inspector “has been notified to take corrective action of the Police National Computer Records”.
On the day on which her guilty pleas were entered on to the PNC, the defendant had not even been to court. The letter added: “I apologise on behalf of HMCTS for the error made and any anxiety caused.”
When the case eventually came to trial the defendant contested the allegations.