I’ve written extensively about how to access data held by the police, and I have recently updated that information in line with GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018. Unfortunately the police still continue to misinform the public about their rights to access their personal data and in some cases deliberately obstruct legitimate subject access requests.
One of the most common obstructions the police use is to reject the request on the basis that the information held is part of an ongoing investigation. This means that just by lodging a complaint about a police officer, the subject access department will deny the complainant access to body worn video, CCTV or police notebooks pending a complaint investigation. This is a clear abuse of the exemptions provided by Article 23 of the GDPR and Schedule 2 of the DPA 2018. In such cases, I would urge the requestor to insist that the data be disclosed to necessitate legal proceedings against the force.
Schedule 11, Paragraph 3(3) of the Data Protection Act 2018 requires that information must (in general) be disclosed when it is connected with legal proceedings:
(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 the listed provisions would prevent the controller from making the disclosure.
This provision is subject to exemptions of criminal investigation provided by Paragraph 2 of Schedule 11, which states:
The listed provisions do not apply to personal data processed for any of the following purposes—
(a) the prevention and detection of crime, or
(b) the apprehension and prosecution of offenders,to the extent that the application of the listed provisions would be likely to prejudice any of the matters mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b).
This means if the requestor is subject to a criminal investigation, the subject access request is likely to be blocked until that investigation (and or any subsequent prosecution) ends. But the majority of complaint investigations are not criminal investigations and the police have no blanket exemption to deny a subject access request simply because the requestor has an ongoing complaint concerning a police officer.
If the police are refusing to fulfil your legitimate subject access request then you should write to them and insist they comply or else you will seek intervention from the Information Commissioner’s Office. If the police still fail to comply with the request then lodge a complaint directly to the ICO here.
For a basic guide on Subject Access, please read this article. You can make your request to the police for your personal data via your local force using the relevant email address listed below:
Avon & Somerset Constabulary:
British Transport Police:
City of London Police:
Devon & Cornwall Police:
Dyfed Powys Police:
Greater Manchester Police:
North Wales Police:
North Yorkshire Police:
Police Service of Northern Ireland:
Royal Ulster Constabulary:
South Wales Police:
South Yorkshire Police:
Tees and Hartlepool Harbour Police:
Thames Valley Police:
West Mercia Police:
West Midlands Police:
West Yorkshire Police:
If you find any of these email addresses are wrong and you have obtained the correct email address then please let me know here.