Wed, 09 Jul 2014

IPCC case file eventually destroyed. Possibly. Probably.

IPCC disclosed case fileAfter my unlawful arrest in July 2005, I complained to the Independent Police Complaint Commission (IPCC) and then appealed the outcome of the supervised investigation. After deciding not to uphold my appeal, the Independent Police Complaint Commission (IPCC) closed my case file seven years ago. On 2014-06-19, the seventh anniversary of its final correspondence about my appeal, the IPCC was due to delete the electronic content of my case file and destroy its paper content.

When reminding the IPCC of this deadline, I requested to witness the occasion. This was refused:

Unfortunately, it is not possible for you to witness either the destruction of the hard copy file or deletion of the electronic file but we will send you confirmation of their destruction once this has been done.

At a time when the IPCC is trying to regain the trust of the public it is disappointing that such requests cannot be accommodated. However on 2014-06-20, IPCC's Records & Archives Manager confirmed it had all been done:

I am pleased to confirm that the documents held in the electronic file of your case were deleted yesterday morning. I confirm that four paper files were also destroyed at the same time.

I attach a spreadsheet detailing the electronic documents that were deleted. I am unable to list the contents of the paper files as we do not maintain an index of each paper document destroyed, only the fact that the file has been destroyed. Included in the spreadsheet is reference to the destruction of the 4 paper files.

The attached spreadsheet listed the creation date, record number, title and container title (the case reference number) of 32 electronic documents that had just been deleted and the box numbers of the four paper files that had been destroyed.

I found it difficult to verify whether the spreadsheet listed all the documents I knew the IPCC held. Some of the dates did not match that of the documents I had obtained with a subject access request and most of the documents I had did not have titles. I was concerned that the IPCC might still be retaining some documents and requested a review of the deletion process. The IPCC's Records & Archives Manager explained on 2014-06-27:

In 2006 the use of a Electronic Document Records Management System (EDRMS) was in its infancy at the IPCC. At this time the majority of information was filed in paper files. Your case was allocated a case number 2006/007520 and documents for your case, whether in electronic or hard copy format, were filed against this number. The whereabouts of paper files were also recorded onto the EDRMS.

Electronic documents were either scanned or saved directly to the case file and dated with the date that they were added to the system, not the date of the document. As an example of this, the document cited in your email "Final Report Minute - Supervised Investigation' from the Casework Manager to the Commissioner dated 23/11/2006," is shown on line 18 in the spreadsheet as FR minute and dated 4 December 2006.

There were four paper files allocated to your case file number, these were files of some substance I am unable to say what documents were contained in the files as they have now been destroyed.

Following receipt of your email, I have carried out a search on the EDRMS which reveals that there are no electronic or paper files still in existence for this case.

Although all documentation is filed to the appropriate case file, in order to allay your concern that some documents have been inadvertently retained, I have spoken to the casework manager who had conduct of your case and to the commission secretariat to ensure that they have no documents relating to your case in their possession. In both cases they confirmed that they do not have any documents.

I am therefore able to confirm that all documents relating to your case have been destroyed in accordance with our retention policy.

Even after this apparently thorough review, I had some remaining concerns as to whether the searches may have missed documents with the case file reference mistyped or misspellings of my name (such typos were present in some of the documents). This had been considered:

I did carry out some searches using variances of both your name and the case number. These were done both on my initial search and the further search carried out last week.

It would have been easier to allow me to witness the deletions and destructions as initially requested.

The Metropolitan Police Service should delete their litigation and investigation files on 2015-09-02, six years after their last correspondence: their apology.

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