Dear Home Office,
On the 15th of January 2021 the National Police Chiefs' Council said 213,000 records were deleted from the Police National Computer (PNC) in error. We were told that this error was caused by a "Standard Housekeeping Process" that went wrong. We were also told that "law enforcement partners were working at pace to recover the data". Kit Malthouse MP (Government Minister for Crime & Policing) has said "Unfortunately down to human error, some defective code was introduced as part of that routine maintenance earlier this week".
My questions are as follows:
Does the Home Office have rigorous testing procedures in place to ensure failures like this don't occur?
• If the answer to the above question is "No" then why is there no rigorous testing procedure in place?
• If the answer to the above question is "Yes" then how is it possible for a failure like this to be accepted into a live system?
• Is it possible that any testing procedures were performed on a production database instead of a test database?
• Does the Home Office perform regular backups of its data?
• If the answer to that question is "No" then why does the Home Office not backup its data on a regular basis?
• If the answer to that question is "Yes" then how often are those backups performed?
• Is the data integrity of those backups tested after the backups has taken place?
• Is the backup stored both on-site and off-site?
Does the Home Office have a Disaster Recovery (DR)/Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place?
• If the answer to the above question is "No" then why not?
• If the answer to the above question is "Yes" then is it acceptable that recovering such important data from an on-site/off-site backup should take such a long time? Mr Malthouse has said that the error was introduced earlier in the week commencing 11th January 2021, but as of today (16th January 2021) the problem has been identified but not rectified.
• How often does the Home Office fully review and test its DR plan?
• What official standards does the Home Office adhere to when devising a DR plan? Please list the standards.
• Does the home office ensure that all software relating to its databases and backup software has the latest security patches installed within a reasonable period of time?
Does the Home Office have a remote disaster recovery site?
• If the answer to the above question is "No" then why not?
• If the answer to the above question is "Yes" then is that site considered "Hot", "Warm" of "Cold"?
• Depending on the type of DR site implemented does the Home Office have the capacity to ensure smooth running of the department and all sub-departments (specifically Crime and Policing) should many 100,000s of records disappear from a production database?
• Would the Home Office consider all department ran smoothly during the week commencing 11th January 2021, and that the loss off nearly ¼ million police records didn’t impact policing in the UK at any level at all?
• Can the Home Office provide details of its budget that is used in DR/BCP?
• Can the Home Office provide details of the software products and version numbers used in its backup and DR plans?

Yours faithfully, Philip Chapman

FOI Requests, Home Office

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FOI Requests, Home Office

Dear Philip Chapman,

Thank you for contacting the Home Office with your request.

This has been assigned to a caseworker (case ref 62119). We will aim to send you a full response by 15/02/2021 which is twenty working days from the date we received your request.

Regards

N McKenzie
Home Office

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Dear FOI Requests,
As you will be aware you are required by law to provide a response to my FOI request within 20 days. As of yet I haven't received a response from you, the deadline being 15/02/2021. I would be grateful if you could attend to this request. If you fail to provide a satisfactory response by the 15th of this month I will be requesting an internal review. If I hear nothing back from you at all by the 15th , I will refer the request to the Information Commissioner.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Chapman

FOI Requests, Home Office

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Philip Chapman left an annotation ()

Since making the request it has been reported that the number of lost records has risen to 400,00 (https://www.theregister.com/2021/01/18/l...). In my opinion this makes my request all the more important.

Philip Chapman left an annotation ()

The Home Office has been requested to provide information regarding this loss to "The Register" (https://www.theregister.com/2021/01/18/l...), specifically "about where this code would be running and where it hoped engineers could recover the lost records from".

Philip Chapman left an annotation ()

The Home Office has been requested to provide information regarding this loss to "The Register" (https://www.theregister.com/2021/01/18/l...), specifically "to answer questions about the cause for the data loss of thousands of fingerprint, DNA, and arrest records".

FOI Responses, Home Office

1 Attachment

Dear Philip Chapman,

 

Please find attached response to your Freedom of Information request dated
16 January 2021.

 

Please note we are sending this to you by e-mail only.

 

Information Rights Team

Home Office

Third Floor, Peel Building

2 Marsham Street

London SW1P 4DF

e-mail: [1][email address]

 

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FOI Requests, Home Office

Dear Philip Chapman,

According to our records a response was sent to you today. Your case is now closed.

Regards

N McKenzie
Home Office

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Dear Mr McKenzie,
Thank you for your response to my FOI. I appreciate the fact that some information had to be withheld.
If I may ask a follow up question - you say that "The root cause analysis of the issue is in progress and lessons learnt will be documented." Will that analysis be available in the public domain, if so where will I be able to view it?

Yours sincerely,

Philip Chapman

FOI Requests, Home Office

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FOI Requests, Home Office

Dear Philip Chapman,

Thank you for contacting the Home Office with your follow up request.

This has been assigned to a caseworker (case ref 62633). We will aim to send you a full response by 15/03/2021 which is twenty working days from the date we received your request.

Regards

N McKenzie
Home Office

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FOI Responses, Home Office

1 Attachment

Dear Philip Chapman,

 

Please find attached response to your Freedom of Information request dated
15 February 2021.

 

Please note we are sending this to you by e-mail only.

 

Information Rights Team

Home Office

Third Floor, Peel Building

2 Marsham Street

London SW1P 4DF

e-mail: [1][email address]

 

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