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Introduction to the guidance

Why you should apply the Code of Practice and use this guidance.

First published
Guidance for Code of Practice for PNC and LEDS
10 mins read


The Law Enforcement Data Service (LEDS) Programme is working in collaboration with the NPPC, to develop the LEDS, a modern cloud-based data service to replace PNC. The development work on LEDS will result in the decommissioning of PNC (anticipated in 2025).

The multiple data sets in PNC are being relocated into LEDS as a new technology platform. LEDS will be delivered using a product-centric approach with an iterative release of functionality. This means replacing portions of the PNC dataset one at a time in a modular fashion which enables a gradual migration away from PNC for Police Forces and other Law Enforcement organisations.

Both PNC and LEDS will be running concurrently until the PNC is decommissioned, and therefore data may appear on both in that period, although not all data in each system will be replicated. The structure of the LEDS platform will allow the addition of further new data sets in future. For example, Missing and Found Persons capability in LEDS will be a new data set specific to LEDS.

Products are simpler to deliver and are designed so that they can evolve rapidly over time. They will be released at different intervals as they mature, and forces are working with the programme to adopt products as they are released, in an order and at a pace that suits them. Non-police organisations are also preparing to on-board.

As of January 2023 there are four new LEDS products in use with policing alongside Photographs at the Roadside Service (P@RS).

Live products

This section details the status of LEDS products as of December 2022.

Photographs at the Roadside Service (P@RS)

This was developed in partnership with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and is now hosted on LEDS. Provides access to the driver’s image from the driving licence on police-issued mobile devices to help establish identity. P@RS has exceeded over one million transactions. Thirty-six forces are currently live with the service and have as a result so far saved over 204,000 hours of police time between them. This has seen a reduction in the risk from traffic to frontline officers by being at the roadside for prolonged periods and also the resultant reduction in administrative time.

LEDS Audit

Underpins all other LEDS products and will enable auditors to have an audit capability that is more layered than the access currently provided via PNC. The use of the LEDS Audit solution is also being expanded beyond the local auditor users to include colleagues in professional standards departments across pioneer forces.

LEDS Drivers

The usage and availability of Drivers within forces continues to expand with over 11,000 transactions since launch and nearly 400 users. The LEDS Adoption Team are working with pioneer forces to increase the user base and getting new tranches of forces to the product ready to onboard.

LEDS Property

This product was successfully migrated onto the Law Enforcement Cloud Platform (LECP) on 31 October 2022, providing increased resilience and availability. Norfolk, Suffolk and Durham have joined Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, with Cumbria due to join at the end of January 2023.

LEDS Vehicles

The initial release to pioneer forces has gone live and the product is now entering private beta with Merseyside and Cheshire police forces.

In development


LEDS will provide a full Person service providing equivalence to PNC. This is being broken into elements to support development and adoption. The first product in development is Managing Wanted Person which will provide the ability to:

  • search for a person
  • add a person and 
  • add a wanted report 

LEDs will add other person aspects and will have a project stream dedicated to supporting criminal justice activities with products such as Arrest, and later Remand and Disposal. A product supporting the Arrest process is expected to be the first part of this released into live.

A third stream will be dedicated to Missing and Found Person. This will, unlike PNC, retain history of missing person events providing these at a national level for the first time.

Other products

Other products which support common services, programme integration and compliance are also in development.

Two-way replication will enable the data to be held and updated simultaneously on PNC and LEDS for the period both systems are dual running.

Knowledge Hub

Further information on LEDS product development is available through the Knowledge Hub (you will need to log in).

This is a closed group for those who work in or with local or national policing. Registration is free but membership requests will be subject to approval. General enquiries can be directed to [email protected].

The 10 principles of the Code of Practice

While the Code itself addresses chief officers, this guidance document aims to provide the whole organisation with supporting information and further direction on how to comply with the ten principles set out in the Code. These are intended to guide those who are responsible for maintaining and securing the integrity of PNC and LEDS as systems, and those using the data and information held within them.

1. Securing the data held on systems

Robust arrangements must be in place to ensure appropriate security of the data, including protection against unauthorised access, unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage. This will ensure that the public can have confidence in the integrity and confidentiality of stored information.

2. Creating the data record on PNC or LEDS

Data stored on PNC or LEDS should only be created or entered for law enforcement, other policing or safeguarding purposes. Data records should be adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary for the specific purpose for which they are being processed. They must conform to the data protection principles and apply national data quality standards. All members of the organisation should understand the importance of high data quality and have access to the necessary tools and support to achieve this.

3. Amending and updating the data record

The data stored on PNC or LEDS must be accurate and up to date. The data will actively be used by agencies who require it to discharge their law enforcement, other policing and safeguarding responsibilities. Legislation requires that the data set is proactively reviewed and updated for accuracy and currency. Any errors that are identified must be rectified as soon as reasonably practicable.

4. Validating the data record

The data available on PNC or LEDS must be correct and relevant. This involves validating or checking the databases to ensure that the information gathered from different data sources is accurate, in a standard format and free of unnecessary duplication.

5. Review, retention and disposal of data

In accordance with the UK data protection regime, data stored and otherwise processed by law enforcement within PNC and LEDS must be regularly reviewed to make informed decisions on retention and deletion of that data, particularly personal data. Data controllers must ensure compliance with all legal and policy requirements to protect the integrity of the data. Where data is in joint controllership, those responsibilities are shared by the joint controllers. Data should be retained for no longer than is necessary. This should follow the formal, national governance process for the review, retention and disposal of data.

6. Accessing and applying the data held

All data held on PNC and LEDS must be processed ethically, professionally and in accordance with the law (including data protection, human rights and equality legislation).

7. Reporting and analysing the data held

Data captured within PNC or LEDS must be assessed for accuracy and carefully analysed, so that the results are reliable to guide decision making and/or resource allocation.

​​​​​​​8. Sharing data that is held

Shared access to data is essential to discharging law enforcement, other policing, national security or safeguarding purposes. The Code seeks to encourage effective data disclosure to better support law enforcement and public protection. This should always conform to requirements of the law, as well as ethical and professional standards.

​​​​​​​9. Accountability for and auditing of data access and usage

Data protection legislation places obligations on controllers to demonstrate their compliance by putting into place appropriate and effective data protection measures. This includes measures such as local auditing of access and processing activity.

​​​​​​​10. Training and continuing professional development

Regular training and learning will ensure system integrity, better protection of data subjects’ rights and better outcomes for law enforcement. Arrangements must be in place within all user organisations to train new users and proactively support continuing professional development, to ensure that the highest levels of data literacy are achieved and maintained.

Structure of the guidance

The guidance is relevant to all organisations that are granted access to PNC and LEDS, the managers, members and staff of these organisations, and suppliers, auditors and trainers who hold responsibilities to support those principles and understand whether they have been met. 

The Code and the guidance taken together provide the ‘what’ to do, with other existing documents referenced as existing practice guidance. Further documents will be created to elaborate on the ‘how’.

A comprehensive training programme is in place for PNC, and further mandatory learning and awareness will be delivered in 2023 to provide support to enable forces and other users to comply with the principles and responsibilities within the Code and guidance document while using both PNC and LEDS.

The Code of Practice for PNC published in 2005 is now considered out of date and was withdrawn when the new Code was approved by Parliament. The new joint Code of Practice for both PNC and LEDS will now take effect until PNC has been decommissioned. Some lead-in time will be allowed to enable organisations to ensure that they are compliant with the new provisions. The 2005 Code only relates to police business processes that require interaction with the PNC Names database for the purposes of recording the commencement and conclusion of process relating to recordable offences. The 2023 Code covers all aspects of PNC access, as well as the transition towards full use of LEDS.

Other supporting guidance

PNC has an extensive user manual and set of business rules, which will be maintained until PNC is decommissioned.

Some guidance for each of the LEDS products will be published at first technical launch and will be refreshed as the iterative development of the system progresses. For LEDS, a set of specific guidance documents for each product will be created, together with some overarching guidance on common themes.

The LEDS Adoption Team are working with partners to create an information repository for LEDS which will house source documents or live links to related documents. This will be available from the transition period and include links to this guidance for implementation of the Code of Practice, as well as other documents referenced within the guidance.

This guidance also contain references to authorised professional practice (APP), which is practice guidance for policing, issued by the professional body, the College of Policing. This is generally open to other organisations who use PNC and LEDS, who may wish to use this to inform their internal practice guidance, where relevant.

Performance metrics

There will also be some performance metrics for both PNC and LEDS. The performance metrics may include training, data quality measures, operational-critical measures such as timeliness of data entry, data security and supplier requirements. For example, there were specified timeliness targets in the 2005 Code for PNC, which will be reconsidered and refreshed.

These metrics will be developed by subject matter experts working under the governance of the NPCC lead for PNC and LEDS. They will be based on existing metrics and targets (such as the two for PNC), as well as identifying or developing those that are required for operational efficiency.

The implementation date of the performance metrics will be three months after the relevant document is published unless the document says otherwise. This does mean that there will be a time lag between the launch of the new combined Code and the publication of metrics which replace the PNC timeliness targets.

Guidance for the public

Separate guidance is being developed for the public to provide information for those interested in how personal information held in PNC and LEDS is processed by law enforcement. This will assist members of the public whose data may be held on PNC or LEDS with guidance on how their data could be used, as well as how to apply for their personal information to be amended or deleted.

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