Chief Constable Gary Roberts insists the destruction of records by police is not related to Freedom of Information legislation.
In an employment tribunal case, Inspector Bryan, head of Police Professional Standards, told the hearing that: ’Consequent upon the implementation of the FoI Act some 18 months ago, there had been a directive internally to destroy old emails and paperwork.’
But the Chief Constable said destruction of documents had nothing to do with FoI but dates back to a public inquiry into the 2002 murder of Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.
Sir Michael Bichard, who chaired the 2004 inquiry into the vetting procedures that allowed killer Ian Huntley to get a job as a school caretaker, outlined a series of recommendations on the way police forces should share information and how they should have a standard code of practice on keeping records.
As a result, said Mr Roberts, records which there was no justified or lawful reason to keep any longer than was necessary had been destroyed.
He said: ’The constabulary has been working towards adherence to police-specific guidelines that emanated from the Soham inquiry and, as a result, over a period of several years its management of information and its record keeping have undergone a radical overhaul.
’Work in this regard began well in advance of Freedom of Information legislation being produced.’
He added: ’The Constabulary’s policies are entirely in keeping with the requirements placed upon it by both the Data Protection Act (which inter alia requires that personal data is held no longer than necessary) and with the Freedom of Information Act.’
The tribunal case was brought against the Manx Constabulary by former police officer Kerry Anne Best who was seeking compensation for alleged sex discrimination.
But her claim was ruled out of time, having been lodged 22 months after the last alleged act of sex discrimination - when the time limit for making a claim is three months.
Mrs Best, who served with the Force from 2007 to the end of April 2015 when she left on the grounds of ill health, claimed the police failed to make sufficient allowance for her when she was left on crutches for a time following a difficult third pregnancy.
The constabulary denied this was sex discrimination - and neither were her two other claims concerning a special priority payment and missing work one lunchtime to sign house purchase documents.
If the claims had been lodged earlier, documents would not have been destroyed which may have tipped the balance in favour of her case proceeding, the tribunal chairman said.