Data protection




Frequently Asked Questions

Data Protection

How can I obtain a copy of information the police hold about me?

The Data Protection Act 1988 places certain obligations on organisations which process personal data to register the purposes for which information is held or used, and to observe
a set of agreed principles.

The Act specifically covers personal data relating to living individuals which is held in police information systems.

Under the terms of the Act you have the right to request a copy of any personal data you believe may be held about you on a police information system. You are also entitled
to have any information corrected if it is wrong.

How do I go about obtaining this information?

On receipt of your initial enquiry an application form will be sent to you which will explain the procedure to be followed.

When you have completed and returned the application form with the relevant fee (currently �10) and the Chief Constable is satisfied that you are legally entitled to access
the information, you will receive, within 40 days, a copy of any personal data the Chief Constable is obliged to release under the terms of the Act.

How can I obtain a form to begin this process?

This process is called ‘Subject Access’. The police only process Subject Access applications from people who live within their force area. If in doubt please check to find your
force area from your local police office or at the Police Services of the UK website.

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Employment of children

What are the rules relating to the employment of children?

The rules for employment of children (under 16 years of age) are (subject to local authority bye-laws).

  • No child shall be employed under 13 years of age

  • The child should not work before the close of school hours

  • Not before 7 o’clock in the morning (any day)

  • Not after 7 o’clock in the evening (any day)

  • Not for more than 2 hours on any school day

  • Not for more than 2 hours on any Sunday

They should not be required to lift, carry or move anything so heavy it is likely to cause injury.

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If you witness a crime

What should I do if I witness a crime?

If you see a crime or offence being committed report it – or ask someone else to report it while you continue to watch what happens.

Dial 999 if:

  • there is a danger to life

  • there is a risk of serious injury

  • a crime is in progress or about to happen

  • an offender is still at the scene or has just left

In other circumstances, phone your force main central switchboard number ( and an operator will connect you to someone who
can help.

If the incident involves violence, you should not intervene unless you are confident you can do so safely – instead, call the police immediately by dialling 999.

If you are a witness to an incident you may need to describe those involved or explain in detail what actually happened. Pay attention to people’s height, build, hair colour
and length and, in particular, their clothes. Write down what you saw or describe the people involved.

What will the police want to know?

The police will normally want to know the following information:

  • Your name and address

  • The telephone number you are calling from

  • A main contact number (mobile or home number)

  • The exact location of the incident you are reporting

  • The nature of the incident

  • Descriptions of the people involved

  • Whether you are a witness to the incident or reporting it on behalf of someone else

If you are still watching the incident, you may be asked to stay on the line. If you are reporting a road accident you may also be asked:

  • The number and type of any vehicles involved

  • The number and extent of injuries

  • Whether the road is blocked

  • Whether there is debris in the road.

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Internet – Unsolicited e-mails

I keep receiving unsolicited e-mails via the internet and I think some of them contain pornographic images. What can I do?

Protect your email address. Only distribute it to those people who you wish to have it. If you do find yourself receiving a lot of unsolicited e-mails, contact your Internet
Service Provider (ISP). They can block future emails from the sender.

Educate yourself about filtering. A number of e-mail programs have filtering features that let you set criteria to stop unwanted e-mail before it reaches your computer, or,
once it does, to move it to a trash box where you can delete it without reading it.

The receipt of pornographic images can be quite distressing, however, the possession of and distribution of adult pornography – the majority of images that are received – is,
as a general rule, not illegal.
What may be distressing to one person may not be to another. In a case like this it is a matter for the individual concerned whether or not to report this to your local police,
who will advise you accordingly.

I think I know the individual concerned who has sent it. What should I do?

If the images are persistent and from the same source, this may constitute an offence under Section 2(1) and (2) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. If you believe this
is the case, save the e-mails on your computer or produce them as hard copies. Contact your local police who will advise you on the most appropriate action.

I have opened my email and it appears to be an indecent image of a child. What should I do?

The possession of indecent images of children is defined under Section 7 of the Protection of Children Act 1978 (as amended by Section 84 of the Criminal Justice and Public
Order Act 1994). It is also an offence to manufacture, distribute or cause to be distributed such images and these include pseudo-images. These are all serious offences, which
are subject of custodial sentences. In cases like this notify your local police or the Paedophile Unit who will advise you accordingly.

Can I just email you the image for you to look at?

No. This constitutes an offence of distribution to which there is no defence in law.

What should I do with the image then?

The image is obviously evidence of an offence and will be treated as such. Do not delete it but inform your local police. They will speak with you and take a written statement
from you, which will produce this image as an exhibit. The image will be copied onto a disk, CD-ROM or made into a hard-copy print. It can then be deleted.

You should then contact your ISP and inform them about this and consider ‘blocking’ the sender’s e-mail address using the facilities on your email account.

I don’t get images but I get website addresses which take me to sites involving children. What should I do?

In cases like this it is acceptable to send us the web addresses. Do this by copying the addresses and forwarding an email to your police force’s Paedophile Unit. The unit will
then work with various organisations to try to close down these sites and arrest the offenders.

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Legal definitions

What is the difference between theft, robbery and burglary?

Theft is ‘the dishonest appropriation of property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving that person of it’.

Put simply this means taking someone else’s property intending it will not be returned. There needs to be an element of dishonesty present. If someone believes they have a right
to take property or the owner would have consented, this could mean a theft has not been committed.

In simple terms, Robbery is where a person steals and either uses force or puts the person involved in fear of being subjected to force or violence.

Basically, robbery involves violence or the threat of violence and something being stolen. For example, someone is approached in the street, knocked to the ground and their
wallet or handbag is stolen.
It is also robbery to be approached by someone, threatened with a knife or similar weapon and have your property taken.

Robbery can take many forms ranging from a street mugging as described above, to an armed robbery of a bank.

A burglary is where someone enters a building, or part of a building, as a trespasser with the intent to steal, inflict grievous bodily harm, rape, or commit criminal
damage or having entered any building, or part of a building as a trespasser, the person is guilty of an offence if they steal, attempt to steal, inflict grievous bodily harm,
or attempt to commit grievous bodily harm.

It is not uncommon for people to say ‘My house has been robbed’ when they actually mean they have been burgled. Unless a degree of violence is used or threatened, it is NOT

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