‘Real reason’ why the Government did not support amendment to Data Protection and Data Information Bill (No.2)
The Daily Mail reveals what stopped the Government from supporting an amendment to the Data Protection Act in support of #SimplifyDG6.
On Sunday [21 January] the Daily Mail revealed for the first time why the Government did not support an amendment to the Data Protection and Data Information Bill (No. 2), which supported Police Federation of England and Wales’s (PFEW) campaign #SimplifyDG6 calling for easy exchange of information between the police service and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The amendment, if allowed, would have freed up thousands of policing hours and saved millions of taxpayer money spent in redacting case files at the pre-charge stage.
According to the Daily Mail report by Glen Owen, Mark Hookham and Rebecca Camber, the Government refused to support the amendment as the Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO) was opposed to a “bid to exempt police from sharing unredacted data with prosecutors”.
Quoting its sources, the Daily Mail reported: “More than 365,000 hours of police time is wasted each year because of EU rules forcing officers to remove personal details from files.
“Indeed, sources claim that ICO bosses warned the plan – designed to slash huge delays in the criminal justice system – could lead to Brussels ruling that the UK was not compliant with its data regulations and could end ‘free movement’ of data between the UK and Europe.
“A source close to the discussions said there was a ‘stand-off’ between the Government and ICO.”
The CPS Disclosure Guidance 2020, known as DG6 in policing parlance, was made effective on 1 January 2021, placing significant additional obligations on police officers to redact material before submitting a case to the CPS for charging decision.
On 28 November last year, the PFEW had revealed that, on average, 365,000 policing hours are consumed in complying with additional redaction obligation placed by DG6 on officers. Calculated at pay point 4 of PC’s salary, it equates to costing taxpayers £5.64 per annum, which means by 1 January 2024 the additional cost had reached £16.92 million.
The Daily Mail’s report estimated that the policing hours freed up by allowing easy access of information between the police service and the CPS would allow forces to attend almost 500,000 burglaries.
In May last year, police officers saw a glimmer of hope when Jane Hunt MP tabled an amendment to the Data Protection and Data Information (No. 2) Bill with Peter Aldous MP as sponsor. The amendment to the Bill sought to adjust provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 to exempt the police service and the CPS from certain data protection principles so that they can safely share unredacted data with one another when making charging decisions.
While the well-researched and urgently needed amendment did not see the light of day as the Government refused to support it, PFEW continues to campaign for amending the Data Protection Act as part of its #SimplifyDG campaign.