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COPFS

Offences under Data Protection Act 1998 (R010056)

Freedom of Information: Offences under Data Protection Act 1998 (R010056)

Thank you for your e-mail of 3 April 2015 in which you requested the following information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA):  

“Pursuant to the general right of access to information contained in section 1 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 I request the following information from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service for the period 1 April 2014 - 31 March 2015 inclusive:

(1) the number of reports COPFS has received concerning alleged offences under section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998
(2) the number of reports COPFS has received concerning alleged offences under section 21(1) of the Data Protection Act 1998


For each of (1) and (2) please provide:

(a) the number of reports marked as no proceedings
(b) the number of reports marked as for prosecution

For those reports that fall into (b) as having been taken forward for prosecution please provide the following:

(i) the number where a verdict of guilty was returned
(ii) the number where a verdict of not guilty was returned
(iii) the number where a verdict of not proven was returned
(iv) the number yet to conclude

Finally, for those reports which were not received by COPFS from the Information Commissioner's Office, please list the reporting agency and the number of reports from those agencies.”

It will firstly be helpful if I explain that COPFS uses a live operational case management system.  It is designed to meet our Department’s business needs in relation to the processing of cases and the information within it is structured accordingly. We do not have a separate statistical database and hold only operational data needed for business purposes.  That said we have been able to retrieve from the electronic system the majority of the statistical information you have requested.  I should emphasise that these figures refer to the number of charges and not the number of people reported due to the way that data is recorded by COPFS.

In respect of your request I can provide you with the following information:

  • COPFS received 204 charges concerning offences under Section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998; 
  • No action was taken in relation to 12 charges;
  • Court proceedings were raised against 16 charges;   
  • No charges where court proceedings were raised during this period remain outstanding.
  • All 204 charges were reported to COPFS by Police Scotland.
  • COPFS did not receive any charges under section 21(1) of the Data Protection Act 1998 during this period.  You should be aware that Section 21(1) is not a standalone charge and is combined with a Section 17(1) charge.  Section 21 provides that where a data controller contravenes Section 17, she/he is guilty of an offence.  No charges under Section 17(1) were reported during the period of your request.
It is important to highlight at this point that a decision has still to be reached in relation to 168 charges.  As additional information, alternatives to prosecution were instructed in relation to 8 charges.  Information on the alternatives to prosecution is available in the Prosecution Code.

As verdicts are returned by the Court, information in relation to verdicts can  be  extracted more  easily  from  the  Scottish  Government  Justice  Department’s  Court Proceedings Database which is designed to produce statistical information.  It contains information about cases prosecuted in all courts and you can contact them by email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by telephone on 0131 244 2927.