Sharing of information provided under Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme by appropriate adult

29 April 2020

Not reviewed after the date of publication

Question:

A disclosure was given under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme in the presence of an appropriate adult. This information has subsequently been shared publicly by the appropriate adult resulting in the suspect being assaulted.

What offences can we consider?

Answer:

We understand the circumstances are as follows:

A person has applied through the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (termed Clare's Law) for information on their partner.

The disclosure of the information was made in the presence of an appropriate adult.

The appropriate adult has passed the information on to others.

The partner has subsequently been assaulted as a result of this disclosure.

Based on the above the following offences should be considered:

1. Attack on partner by members of the public

Consideration of offence of assault on victim in relation to each suspect (UK member of public).

2. Appropriate adult - sharing information with others

Section 170 of the Data Protection Act 2018 states:

'170(1) It is an offence for a person knowingly or recklessly -

(a) to obtain or disclose personal data without the consent of the controller,
(b) to procure the disclosure of personal data to another person without the consent of the controller, or
(c) after obtaining personal data, to retain it without the consent of the person who was the controller in relation to the personal data when it was obtained.

170(2) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (1) to prove that the obtaining, disclosing, procuring or retaining -

(a) was necessary for the purposes of preventing or detecting crime,
(b) was required or authorised by an enactment, by a rule of law or by the order of a court or tribunal, or
(c) in the particular circumstances, was justified as being in the public interest.'

In the circumstances, the controller would be the police force concerned and the personal data would be the details with regards to the partner.

In our opinion, although this offence could potentially be considered if it could be proven that the appropriate adult was not given the consent of the police to disclose the information to others, the appropriate adult may be afforded with the defence provided in 170(2)(c) 'the disclosure in the particular circumstances was justified' which would ultimately then be a matter for the CPS/ courts to determine.

Further information and guidance on offences under the Data Protection Act 2018 can be found via the following link: https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/data-protection-act-2018-criminal-offences

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