In my short experience, the PIN ( Police Information Notice) – also known as an Early Harassment Notice – is one of the most used tactics for groomers, amongst other abusers, to manipulate the system and avoid being named/exposed.
**** Update: since this was written, progress has been made and the College of Policing has issued advice that PINs should no longer be issued. This article is being left online as there is evidence that not all forces are following the same standards, and you may still need to appeal: https://caage.org/2019/05/31/pin-update/ ****
I understand the need to protect the innocent, and there are legitimate reasons to warn people to lay off harassment – but groomer’s victims are being further victimised using this tactic.
It’s almost the poor man’s ‘NDA’ – but the victim doesn’t get paid to remain silent, the police are used to do their dirty work.
Perpetrators often use the PIN to their own end, claiming harassment when victims fight back. I’ve seen little recognition of this fact,
PINs shouldn’t really be being issued now – many forces have, indeed, stopped. But our police force (England, Wales, Northern Ireland) is not ‘joined up'(and along the way I’ve found vast disparities in the way that they operate and how they handle victims.
The PIN has no legal standing but can be used as evidence later. It merely sits on a police record as issued.
It is purely advisory, a warning to ‘back off’ or it could be used in court. The people they are issued to never get to see the evidence, never get the chance to contest. Recipients are given a police (not criminal) record with no chance of appeal.
The College of Policing is drawing up draft guidance on Early Harassment Notices (which is to be included in new Authorised Professional Practice guidance on harassment and stalking).This process seems to have been on the table for some time!
But in the meantime, a joint report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate was much more bullish. It recommended that “chief constables should stop the use of Police Information Notices and their equivalents immediately”. This was 2017. This has not happened!
There is no formal right to appeal a PIN. It’s just a notice than anything else would be seen as harassment. So it can’t be appealed. But it does remain on file, whether the recipient has been asked to sign for it or not. (You can always refuse to sign.)
On the face of it, to others PINs seem minor – it’s far from minor for the recipient!
The real trouble comes when the recipient needs an Enhanced DBS (EDBS) for work when it may be revealed. And this point you ask for it not to be disclosed.
Draft Appeal Letter
Having now helped several people with PIN appeals, and appealed my own, I’ve pulled together a sample (draft) letter format to help anyone who is struggling.
This draft/sample letter is a purely amateur attempt to help, drawn together from information available on the web, and with some fabulous input from Arrest the PIN (Thank you!).
You may prefer to ask a solicitor to do this formally. (They will charge for this.)
On the basis only of experience, the kinds of responses you’ll receive may be:
- We won’t reveal, rest assured.
- It will only be revealed if relevant to the post applied for.
There is nothing stopping you asking for a blanket non-disclosure, but experience suggests that the more specific it the request with regard to the DBS and why the PIN should not be revealed, the more likely you are to receive a favourable response.
If you do use the template, please let us know how you got on – this is a start point, and suggestions for improvements are ALWAYS welcome.
Download word document here: Sample pin letter, word document
Download pdf document here: Sample pin letter, PDF
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