Q739: I had a relative in the police force and he/she is now deceased. How do I get information about their time in the service?

Police records are an excellent source for tracing ancestors. Registers confirm names of officers and dates of appointment and retirement, while personnel files can contain a wide variety of valuable information, such as details of parents and siblings, home address, physical description (and sometimes a photograph) and career details. Unfortunately, not all of these types of records have survived, so gaps may exist in some constabularies at some times.

You should contact the Freedom of Information (FoI) department at the relevant police force(s) for which your relative worked. Most forces now have the facility by which you can make your request online via the force website. (This can usually be found on the homepage under a title similar to, Freedom of Information, FoI, or requesting information etc...).

Alternatively, if you wish to make your request by post, you should address it the relevant force and make it for the attention of the Freedom of Information Officer. Your request should provide the following details so that the officer may consider whether the information can be disclosed:

  • Your name and address.
  • Your relation to the individual whose record you seek.
  • The reason you wish to have this information.
  • Please note, as the FoI request concerns an individual.

Confidential information such as medical reports, police investigations, disciplinary reports etc, if there are any, may be exempt from disclosure.

FoI requests, such as this, must be completed within 20 working days and under the legislation there may be a charge

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