A United Kingdom official said Monday that “human error” caused the deletion of thousands of records on a national police database.
Kit Malthouse, Britain’s policing minister, told the House of Commons that “a regular housekeeping process” is used to delete unnecessary personal data. But a “human error” introduced a defect in the software’s code caused 400,000 records to be wiped, including 213,000 offense records and 170,000 arrest records.
“Last week, the Home Office became aware that, as a result of human error, the software that triggers these automatic deletions contained defective coding and had inadvertently deleted records that it should not have, and indeed had not deleted some records that should have been deleted,” Malthouse said, according to a transcript.
NEW: Policing Minister @kitmalthouse confirms ‘human error’ was behind the deletion of approx 150K police records from national database.
‘We’ve got some work to do over the next two or three days to assess the full scale of the issue, and then the recoverability of the data’.
— Joe Pike (@joepike) January 15, 2021
Malthouse said that there can be many records “against the same individual, so the number of individuals affected by this incident is likely to be lower.”
Labour lawmaker Yvette Cooper called it “very hard to understand how 400,000 records could be deleted from such a crucial system without there being a proper back-up system in place,” according to The Associated Press.
Malthouse said officials were attempting to get the data back, but couldn’t guarantee that active investigations wouldn’t be affected by the deleted records, the AP reported. Malthouse remarked the government was working “to make sure that any operational impact is obviated or mitigated.”
“We have already put a stop to the problem so it can’t reoccur,” Malthouse said, according to Sky News.
Malthouse didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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