The Police National Computer (PNC)

What is the PNC

The PNC stands for Police National Computer. It is the primary national police computer system in the United Kingdom and is used for facilitating investigations and sharing information of both national and local significance. The system provides intelligence to police and other criminal justice or law enforcement agencies by holding extensive information on people, vehicles, crimes and property. It is accessible over a secure network, within seconds and from thousands of terminals across the country at any time. This now includes mobile data checking at the scene of a crime or investigation.

Background of the PNC

The PNC dates back to 1974 when it was simply a database for stolen vehicles. Since its creation numerous applications have been implemented and technology has been embraced. The PNC has grown from a basic record-keeping service into a highly sophisticated online intelligence and investigatory tool consisting of various databases assisting in investigations and other areas of the criminal justice system and law enforcement.


The PNC contains several separate databases with direct links to many others. The main PNC databases are as follows:

  • Names File – This contains information about people who have been convicted, cautioned or recently arrested. These people are referred to as nominals and can be placed on the PNC as wanted/missing if they are sought in connection with a crime, on warrant and failed to appear at court, AWOL from military service or reported missing. The PNC will retain information on all recent previous arrests, convictions and what sentence was handed down, as well as any impending offences. The PNC will also store information such as all previous addresses, co-defendants, local intelligence, marks/scars and descriptions and will include links to fingerprints and DNA. As the PNC is a text only system, without graphical information, it doesn’t hold photographs but will provide information relating to the location of photos taken whilst someone is in custody.

  • Vehicle File – This contains details of the registered keeper of a motor vehicle, as well as other information from the DVLA as to the vehicle status such as whether the tax has expired. The police can also add reports as to whether a vehicle is stolen, missing or believed to be involved in a crime, and so on. The vehicle record system is linked to the Motor Insurance Database maintained by the Motor Insurers Bureau which can also confirm if the vehicle is insured together with details of any policy dates and number, the insurance company and any named drivers.

  • Drivers File – This contains information on several million people who hold a driving licence or are disqualified from holding one, including information relating to test passes, endorsements and licence entitlements. The DVLA is responsible for this database.

  • Property File – Different types of stolen and found property can be placed onto the PNC system including firearms, trailers, plant and equipment, engines, animals and marine craft.

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For more information on:

  • Types of applications used on the PNC
  • Users
  • Accessing your personal data held on the PNC
  • Misuse of the PNC
  • Future of the PNC
  • Additional information relating to the PNC