The chair of Staffordshire Police Federation says members will need training on revised disclosure guidelines to ensure the changes help to reduce the burden on them.

Lee Robinson said the Federation will continue to consult with members over the changes to ensure they have the desired impact.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) guidance, known as DG6, was introduced in 2021 by the Director of Public Prosecutions. It requires investigators to provide the CPS with trial-ready prosecution before it makes a charging decision.

Lee said: “DG6 has had a massive effect on our members since it was introduced, with many struggling to cope with the additional workload it’s brought.

“We hope that these changes will help to reduce the burden on them and reduce their stress levels – and ultimately improve their ability to deliver for victims of crime.

“In order to do that though our members will need thorough training on the revised guidance.

“And we’ll continue to work with them to monitor the impact of the changes and ensure they have the desired impact.”

The latest revision to the guidance comes after the Federation launched its #SimplifyDG6 campaign in August.

The campaign followed a review by the Attorney General, which recognised shortcomings which led to significant pressure on officers regarding the submission of case files to the CPS for charging decisions.

However, the review failed to make any recommendation to mitigate the impact on officers.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) has since worked with the Police Federation of England and Wales through its National Detectives’ Forum (PFNDF) and has now produced the revised Joint Principles for Redaction. 

They’ve been developed by the CPS and the NPCC Disclosure Portfolio setting out their joint position on how police officers and prosecutors should approach data protection responsibilities.

The Federation said the revised guidance should further help officers comply with the Data Protection Act as the redaction of personal information is necessary when sharing information with CPS, including the pre-charge stage.

The revised principles are supported by legal advice from a King’s Counsel (KC) specialising in information law to ensure they’re legally robust and have been endorsed by the co-chairs of the Joint Operational Improvement Board (JOIB). 

The main changes are: 

  • New Supporting Guidance to aid redaction decision-making, including how and when non-redaction can be justified on the grounds of disproportionality. To withstand any legal challenges, it’s important such decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, with the decision documented and approved at inspector rank or above. 
  • Updated FAQs following feedback on common disputes – changing approaches to data minimisation in favour of pragmatism, including when to consider the redaction of occupations, dates of births, vehicle registration numbers, suspects not charged and names of potential witnesses from witness statements. Given the volume of data breaches documented for these categories. The Federation expects to see a significant reduction in the volume of redaction required following these changes.

Ben Hudson, PFNDF chair, who is leading the Federation’s work on the issue and is also secretary of Suffolk Police Federation, said: “It’s pertinent that the revised principles are rolled out swiftly by chief constables and the CPS to serve its purpose.

“We’re asking that meaningful and detailed training is provided at the force level to all our members to assist in understanding the material they need to redact as part of evidence disclosure even at the pre-charge stage.

“We also ask that detailed and legally specific training is delivered to inspectors to ensure they fully understand the requirements when signing off the need for non-redaction and explain their rationale as to why they consider it disproportionate.  

“We’ll continue to champion the cause of our members and highlight the impact of case file building on policing and justice delivery.

“We’ll carefully watch and consult with members across the country to see how much mitigation these joint principles bring to the huge task that redaction currently is for our members.

“It’s still our position that there’s an urgent need for amending the Data Protection Act and we’re working with partner agencies in this direction. We hope to formally engage with the Attorney General’s office in early 2023 to see how these concerns can be addressed.”