28 November 2022
The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) launched a campaign, #SimplifyDG6, on 30 August after the Attorney General’s Review of Disclosure was made public. The review, published on 26 May, recognised some of the shortcomings in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Disclosure Guidance 2021 leading to significant pressure on police officers regarding the submission of case files to the CPS for charging decisions. However, it failed to make any recommendation that will immediately mitigate the huge impact of disclosure on its members.
Following the campaign's launch, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) was quick to engage with PFEW, through the Police Federation National Detectives’ Forum, and has now come out with the revised Joint Principles for Redaction.
The Joint Principles have been developed by the CPS and the NPCC Disclosure portfolio setting out their joint position on how police officers and prosecutors should approach data protection responsibilities. The revised guidance will further help police officers across the country comply with the Data Protection Act as the redaction of personal information is necessary when sharing information with CPS, including the pre-charge stage.
Reacting to the milestone achieved by the campaign, PFNDF Chair Ben Hudson said, “We are pleased to be made part of the National Disclosure Improvement Board. I am confident that the revised guidance, applied correctly, will reduce the redaction burden on police officers whilst also complying with the legal framework.”
The revised principles are supported by legal advice from a KC specialising in information law to ensure they are legally robust and have been endorsed by the co-chairs of the Joint Operational Improvement Board (JOIB).
The main changes to highlight in the principles are:
Voicing concerns about making the revised principles accessible, Ben added, “It is pertinent that the revised principles are rolled out swiftly by chief constables and the CPS to serve its purpose.
“We are asking that meaningful and detailed training is provided at the force level to all our members to assist in understanding the material they need to redact as part of evidence disclosure even at the pre-charge stage. We also ask that detailed and legally specific training is delivered to inspectors to ensure that they fully understand the requirements when signing off the need for non-redaction and explain their rationale as to why they consider it disproportionate.
“We will continue to champion the cause of our members and highlight the impact of case file building on policing and justice delivery. We will carefully watch and consult with members across the country to see how much mitigation these joint principles bring to the huge task that redaction currently is for our members.
“It is still our position that there is an urgent need for amending the Data Protection Act and we are working with partner agencies in this direction. We hope to formally engage with the Attorney General’s office in early 2023 to see how these concerns can be addressed.”