GDPR and retention of medical records

Don’t be discouraged. It’s often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock.”

Author Unknown


Today, we are going to relay a story regarding the battle of a police pensioner to make his former force comply with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR and either return or destroy excessive amounts of personal data that they had no justification in holding.

As is usually the case, the force showed their usual contempt for this injured officer, and would only comply with the law when threatened with legal action.

When are police force going to realise that they are there to uphold the law, they are not the law!

The moral of this story is not to give up.

Here is his story –


In May 2014 after a horrendous journey fueled by the Police I was medically retired  after 28 years service having joined the police at 17 years of age. My medical retirement was due to crippling CPTSD caused by experiences serving as a police officer.

My treatment by the police service during my illness and EIHR process was awful  and made my fragile mental health much worse causing horrendous symptoms incidence including self harm along with suicidal thoughts and planning.

Upon retiring my wife wrote to the police asking for the return of my medical records that they had duped  out of us as part of the EIHR process. The thought of the them retaining my deeply personal information since my birth including information on my dead parents aggravated my PTSD and paranoia. The police replied that their policy was that they could retain my records until “I was dead” or reached the age of 100. At that time I explicitly withdrew my consent for the retention of my medical records.

My wife replied quoting detailed legal information around the DPA and human rights legislation and then strangely the police stopped communicating with us.

We then submitted a complaint to to ICO which was upheld and they wrote to the police force concerned informing them that continued retention of my records was illegal. They also asked the force to conduct a review of their retention policy, strangely again the force ignored this advice and refused to communicate on the matter.

I then took legal advice and was given funding from  the police federation to pursue a claim against the force for the destruction of my medical records as well as compensation for the damage caused  to mental health. What followed was a 3 year legal battle during which the force displayed a level of arrogance that should not have surprised  my but it did.

Finally with the imminent  with the threat of a court case pending the force conceded  and agreed to destroy all my medical records and offered me  a small amount of compensation. This agreement was signed by their legal services and is subject a court order enforcing it. The order also states that with the exception of the SMPs report “no further medical records relating to the claimant are retained by the defendant”

I am pleased this episode is behind my wife and I now and it brings closure to my treatment by a dishonest Organisation. It was a long battle but one I was prepared to see out and not be intimidated by the police that I used to believe in. Up and down the country the police are retaining medical records of veteran cops that they are holding onto illegally and for a variety of bizarre reasons. I would urge anyone reading this to take action against your force and obtain legal orders to stop the police holing onto your deeply personal information now and in the future.

I wish you all the best for the future and try not to be intimidated by the organisations you once served.

GDPR and retention of medical records

5 thoughts on “GDPR and retention of medical records

  • 2020-12-01 at 10:36 am

    Why did you want the police to destroy your medical information ?
    Would it not help if/when a review of your injury is reviewed ?
    If they agreed to your award once with the medical reports you had, it would only make it stronger when reviewed !
    If not, you would have to get all the medical reports again !!!!!

    Sorry, cannot understand the issue.
    If I was a cooper injured on duty, with no doubt it was on duty, I would let anyone have my medical records in case I was reviewed,
    It might even help and be given more money.

    Sure there must be another reason, however, i cannot understand the problem.

    • 2020-12-04 at 12:08 pm


      The case of LAWS confirms that a review is a comparison exercise between the granting of the award (or the last review) and today. It is unnecessary and excessive for a force to retain a copy of a pensioners full medical records from birth that serves no purpose.

  • 2020-11-20 at 9:35 pm

    This is not the first time this has happened and it won’t be the last. Forces would rather Chuck money at trying to defend the indefensible than just abide by the law. Arrogant, above the law and just plain wrong.
    Wouldn’t it be easier to comply with the legislation and just hand the notes back and make life easy for an ex police officer who has suffered enough.
    Cue stupid comments from officers with 30 years the last 5 dodging and diving!

  • 2020-11-20 at 5:25 pm

    Why oh why do the forces insist on putting IOD’s through the wringer like this? The current emphasis is on victim care and victim support, but the same standards never seem to be applied to their own when they become victims.

    If you’re reading this and thinking of joining the police, then my advice is “don’t do it”. The moment you get hurt, and there is an increasing chance you will the way assaults on officers are rising, you’ll become a second class citizen if you’re lucky, and piece of sputum on the U bend of police life if you’re not. I ain’t kidding.

  • 2020-11-20 at 2:53 pm

    Very sad story of the appalling behaviour of a force that this IOD served for 28 years. Well done for your tenacity in sticking to your guns and getting a result. At least on this occasion the ICO acted.

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