Enabling Sections of the DPA

Data Protection Acts (first 1984) have never been and were never intended to be, a fraudster’s charter; a means by which crooks could shield their details from prying eyes and avoid detection.  Like much of our legislation, there are sections that ‘enable’ actions which would otherwise be deemed criminal conduct.   Take, as an example, the Offences Against the Persons Act of 1861 – we all know we should not hit people:

‘an assault is the intentional application of force to the person of another without their consent, or the threat of such force by act or gesture if the person threatening has or causes the person threatened to believe he/she has, the present ability to affect his/her purpose.’*

But what of self-defence… or when a police officer arrests someone?  There are occasions when an assault is ‘justified’ and the Act allows for this. Similarly, the DPA contains ‘enabling’ sections:

  • Prevention &/or detection of crime, apprehension and/or prosecution of offenders

3(1)The GDPR provisions listed in sub-paragraph (3) do not apply to personal data which consists of a classification applied to the data subject as part of a risk assessment system falling within sub-paragraph (2) to the extent that the application of those provisions would prevent the system from operating effectively.

(ii)the prevention or detection of crime or apprehension or prosecution of offenders, where the offence concerned involves the unlawful use of public money or an unlawful claim for payment out of public money.

Note: the Act does not specify that the prevention, detection etc. needs to be undertaken by a ‘prosecuting authority’ such as the police. The Act extends to any party who can demonstrate (justify) the prevention/detection etc.

  • information required to be disclosed by law etc or in connection with legal proceedings

5(3)The listed GDPR provisions do not apply to personal data where disclosure of the data—

(a)is necessary for the purpose of, or in connection with, legal proceedings (including prospective legal proceedings),

(b)is necessary for the purpose of obtaining legal advice, or

(c)is otherwise necessary for the purposes of establishing, exercising or defending legal rights,

to the extent that the application of those provisions would prevent the controller from making the disclosure.

Note: For many involved in claim investigation or seeking to make a recovery, this is easier to demonstrate or more applicable to their environment.

In an age where our constabularies are undermanned, tasked with addressing a wide range of matters whilst burdened (in some respects) by political correctness and admin’, does it not make sense for constabularies to embrace those who have a vested interest in tackling crime in its many shapes, to engage with those who have the expertise, rather than duplicate resources?

*from memory – had to be learned ‘word perfect’ in the 1970’s at police training school.