Line to take - LTT23 - Police Act 1996

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  • FOI/EIR: FOI
  • Section/ReguIation: s44
  • Issue: Police Act 1996
  • Source: Information Tribunal
  • Details: Higginson / IPCC (2 May 2006)
  • Related Lines to Take: n/a
  • Related Documents: FS50069386, EA/2005/0008, Awareness Guidance 27
  • Contact: EW
  • Date 17/11/2006
  • Policy Reference: LTT23
  • © Copyright Information Commissioner's Office, re-used with permission
  • Original source linked from here: LTT


Line to take

Section 80 of the Police Act 1996 is a prohibition on the disclosure of information held by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in relation to complaints made to its predecessor, the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), before 1 April 2004.

Further Information

In the case of Higginson v the Information Commissioner the Information Tribunal dismissed forthwith the appellant’s appeal against the Commissioner’s decision that s.80 of the Police Act 1996 is, in certain defined cases, a statutory prohibition on disclosure, confirming that s.44 of the FOIA will apply.

Section 80 of the Police Act 1996 provides that:

“(1) No information received by the Authority in connection with any of their functions under sections 67 to 79 or regulations made by virtue of section 81, shall be disclosed by any person who is or has been a member, officer or servant of the Authority except-
(a) to the Secretary of State or to a member, officer or servant of the Authority, or, so far as may be necessary for the proper discharge of the functions of the Authority, to other persons,
(b) for the purposes of any criminal, civil or disciplinary proceedings, or,
(c) in the form of a summary or other general statement made by the Authority which does not identity the person from whom the information was received or any person to whom it relates.
(2) Any person who discloses information in contravention of this section shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of an amount not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.”

Sections 67 to 79 concern the handling of complaints about the conduct of a member of the police force.

Section 80 of the Police Act 1996 was repealed by the Police Reform Act 2002 on 1 April 2004. However, by virtue of Article 2 of the Independent Police Commission (Transitional Provisions) Order 2004 the prohibition above continues to have effect in connection with complaints made before 1 April 2004.

The order also provides that the functions of the PCA, which was wound up by the Police Reform Act 2002, shall be carried out by its successor, the IPCC, in respect of complaints made before 1 April 2004. Information held by the IPCC in relation to complaints made before that date are therefore exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act by virtue of section 44.

The Tribunal did recognise that s.80(1)(c) permits a limited summary of the information to be supplied — provided that it does not identify an individual, and that this had been provided in this case.