Shadow policing minister lambasts Priti Patel over response to 400,000 wiped police records

18 January 2021, 15:38 | Updated: 18 January 2021, 15:40

By Fiona Jones

Shadow Minister for Policing Sarah Jones brands Priti Patel's behaviour as "frankly embarrassing" after not attending the Chamber to answer questions over the police record wipe.

Engineers are working to restore hundreds of thousands of police records that were accidentally deleted from the national database due to human error, the Home Office has said.

Initially some 150,000 records were said to have been lost, but it has emerged the number is far higher than first thought at around 400,000.

Officers are said to be working "at pace" to recover the data and the incident is not thought to have put public safety at risk, according to an initial assessment.

"We've heard nothing from the Home Secretary...it's frankly embarrassing that she's not coming to the Chamber," the Shadow Minister for Policing said.

Ms Jones continued: "There are questions that are completely legitimate questions to ask about when she knew about this issue, how big it is, how many data records have been lost - because when it was leaked to the papers last week it was 150,000, it's gone up to 400,000.

"What is the nature of all of the data that's been lost? How has it had an impact on existing policing work? And can the data be retrieved? There are really serious questions to answer.

"To not have the Home Secretary come to the Chamber is quite extraordinary."

In a statement, Ms Patel has said: "Home Office engineers continue to work to restore data lost as a result of human error during a routine housekeeping process earlier this week.

"Public safety is the number one priority of everyone within the Home Office, and I would like to thank the data engineers working to restore these records.

"I continue to be in regular contact with the team, and working with our policing partners, we will provide an update as soon as we can."

Sir Keir, who was once head of the Crown Prosecution Service, said it was a "really serious situation".

"Having worked in criminal justice for many, many years, having prosecuted every case in England and Wales for five years, I know just how important that information is," he said.

"Some of these [records] now involve live cases, investigations which are going on now so this isn't just a historic record, it's a record that is relevant or some of them are relevant to ongoing investigations and the home secretary needs to take responsibility for that."