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Gwent Information Exchange Protocol

Appendix 6

R V Chief Constable North Wales


YEAR OF CASE YEAR 1998
COURT Court of Appeal
CASE NARR

This case was heard at the Court of Appeal on the 18th March 1998. The Court basically approved the following decision made by the Queen's Bench Division.

AB and CD were a married couple, recently released from prison after serving sentences for serious sexual offences against children. In the winter of 1997 they hired a caravan on a holiday site in North Wales. The police were very concerned that when the site opened to holiday makers at Easter, children playing on the site might be vulnerable to attack by the couple.

After discussions with the couple, a psychiatrist and other agencies, such as social services, it was decided to inform the site owner of the couple's convictions. The owner made them leave.

The couple brought an action for judicial review of the police's conduct.

HELD

In LIMITED circumstances the police could release factual information about individuals if it was very strongly in the public interest to do so.

The Court approved the Home Secretary's instructions to the police concerning the release of such information. They say:

  1. There is a general presumption that information should NOT be disclosed, such a presumption being based on a recognition of:
    • the potentially serious effect on the ability of the convicted people to live a normal life;
    • the risk of violence to such people; and
    • the risk that disclosure might drive them underground.
  2. There is a strong public interest in ensuring that the police are able to disclose information about offenders where that is necessary for the prevention or detection of crime, or for the protection of young or other vulnerable people.
  3. EACH CASE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED CAREFULLY ON ITS PARTICULAR FACTS (there must be no blanket policy), assessing the risk posed by the individual offender; the vulnerability of those who may be at risk; and the impact of disclosure on the offender. In making such an assessment, the police should normally consult other relevant agencies (such as social services and the probation service).

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