In the conjoined cases of R v The Commissioner for Police for the Metropolis (on the applications of R and T)  EWHC 1115 (Admin), the applicants sought to challenge the police practice in relation to warnings given to those have been accused of harassment or stalking by means of what is known as a Prevention of Harassment Letter or a Police Information Notice.
Prevention of Harassment Letters or Information Notices are issued to those whom have been interviewed about allegations of harassment but not charged. A record is stored on the Police National Computer for up to 7 or 12 years.
The Claimants contended that in certain respects the current practice may not accord with data protection principles and/or the right to respect for a private and family life enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and/or common law requirements of procedural fairness.
In a lengthy and complex judgment, those contentions were rejected. In summary, while the period of retention would be too long if the sole purpose were to lay the ground for establishing a “course of conduct” under the Protection from Harassment Act, for other purposes such as assisting in re-solving later allegations, and investigating other crimes, a longer period of retention might well be appropriate.
As these matters were within the scope of police judgment as to operational needs, the Court should be slow to interfere. As there are procedures by which the Information Commissioner is prepared to entertain requests for earlier deletion, the Court was not satisfied any illegality had been established and the applications were rejected.