Two West Midland police forces could be forced to delete thousands of criminal records from the national database after losing an Information Commission ruling appeal.
The Information Tribunal dismissed appeals from five forces including West Midlands and Staffordshire who were told to delete convictions from the Police National Computer.
The tribunal ruled that keeping the records was in breach of the Data Protection Act, which says personal information should not be kept for longer than necessary.
Police fear the ruling could have “far-reaching implications” for the holding of data. It could open the door to thousands of people convicted of minor offences when young to apply to have their criminal record removed. Under current policy, criminal records remain on the computer for up to 100 years.
One record held by West Midlands Police referred to a theft which took place more than 25 years ago, for which the individual was fined £25.
Another record held by Staffordshire Police related to someone under 14 cautioned for a minor assault.