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Finally, ‘enforced subject access’ becomes a criminal offence

From tomorrow, 10th March 2015, a practice known as ‘enforced subject access’ becomes a criminal offence, as section 56 of the Data Protection Act comes into force.

As we originally reported in an update to our Information Hub in June 2014, this is an important step in making sure that employers and organisations don’t take part in the unsavoury practice of requiring individuals to provide a copy of their police records through their rights of subject access.



Today, to help people understand what this means in practice, we’re:

  1. Publishing brief guidance for individuals on our self-help Information Hub
  2. Providing a news update for employers, as well as brief guidance for employers and organisations
  3. Highlighting the technical guidance that the Information Commissioners Office has published.


Christopher Stacey, Co-Director  of Unlock, said; “Subject access is an important right of individuals to be able to obtain copies of their own criminal record. However, ever since the Data Protection Act came into force, there has been clear evidence of unsavoury practices where employers and others have abused this right by requiring individuals to use this route as a way of checking an individuals’ criminal record, which is a clear abuse, and bypasses the official disclosure regimes which have safeguards built into them.”

“The criminal offence that comes into force will finally give the Information Commissioners Office the tools that they need to deal with the problem. We’ll be monitoring the practices of employers and organisations, and where appropriate, we’ll be challenging those organisations. We also look forward to working closely with the ICO, so that this type of practice can be stamped out. We’re encouraging anybody who knows of practices like this to get in touch with our helpline”.


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Photo of Helpline lead, Debbie Sadler
Debbie Sadler
Helpline lead

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