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Tens of Thousands of policing hours could be saved if Government makes data disclosure change

10 October 2023

MPs, chief officers and Police Federation Representatives are working together to reduce the redaction and disclosure burden on officers, and return thousands upon thousands of policing hours.

The Police Federation of England and Wales annual conference heard redaction is costing forces 1,260 extra hours every month and keeping officers off the beat, Ben Hudson, Chair of the Police Federation National Detectives’ Forum told the meeting in Manchester.

He has called on the Government to make amendments to the Data Protection Act that would simplify the redaction obligations placed on police officers, a move that has been supported by MPs Jane Hunt and Peter Aldous.

Ben said: “I'm now calling upon the Government to adopt our amendment into the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill. The proposed amendment would have no obvious disadvantages, security of personal data would not be compromised, the redactions which are needed to protect personal data would still be undertaken, however, would be done at the appropriate stage. And most importantly, unnecessary redaction would be avoided, which is everything we've been looking to achieve.

“Adopting this approach enables the Government to demonstrate that they are supporting policing and freeing up thousands upon thousands of policing hours nationally for our members to dedicate their services back to the front line. For chief constables, it means getting their officers back within their communities rather than being stuck behind computers. And finally, our members will be able to do what they joined up to do; serve the public, keep them safe and prevent and detect crime.”

Tim De Meyer, Surrey Chief Constable, told the conference that the Data Protection Act was a “parasite”, that adds four hours of extra work onto every submission.

He added: “I assure you we continue alongside the Federation to make this argument as vigorously as we possibly can. It would be sensible both to have good technology which makes the redaction easier, but also to get rid of the, in my view, foolish rule that makes hard pressed officers have to do it in the first place.”