Information which may be disclosed
Purpose of disclosure
1. Information obtained in the course of your duties may only be disclosed in certain circumstances. Disclosure is permitted for the purpose of:
- fulfilling your general functions in relation to securing the health, safety and welfare of persons at work 1;
- protecting those who may be affected by the activities of persons at work (including the control of dangerous or noxious substances) 2;
- any legal proceedings or any investigation or inquiry ordered by the HSE 3;
- a report of such proceedings or inquiry 4
2. Disclosure is also permitted for the purpose of:
- any criminal investigation which is being or may be carried out, whether in the United Kingdom or elsewhere; 5
- criminal proceedings which have been or may be initiated, whether in the United Kingdom or elsewhere 6;
- initiating or bringing to an end any such criminal investigation or proceedings 7;
- determining whether such criminal investigation or proceedings should be initiated or brought to an end 8;
3. In these circumstances, information should not be disclosed unless HSE is satisfied that disclosure is proportionate to what is sought to be achieved by it9.
4. Other circumstances in which information may be disclosed, such as disclosure under the FOIA10, are set out in sections 28(3) and (7) HSWA.
5. Information obtained in the course of your duties may also be disclosed with the consent of the person who furnished the information, providing there are not other considerations, for example confidentiality towards a third party, that might prevent disclosure11.
6. In any other circumstances, release of information which identifies a particular person or place would be a criminal offence12 and imprisonable13.
When information may be disclosed
7. You should not seek publicity for any contemplated proceedings prior to the issue of an operational note Publicity. If this is considered necessary you should stress that HSE has not yet reached a decision as to whether or not to proceed. You should not refer to this situation as "sub-judice" (ie the subject of court action) as no legal proceedings are active.
8. Prior to a court hearing, the information which you intend to rely on must be released to the defendant as Initial Details of the Prosecution Case. Information should not normaly be released at this stage to parties in civil proceedings. Where information has been requested, advice from your FOI officer and if necessary your legal liaison point should be sort in order to avoid the possibility of details being released to the press which may prejudice the criminal proceedings.
9. Before a hearing you should not inform the media whether the defendant has indicated their intended plea or other details of how you expect the case to proceed.
- HSWA 1974. s.1 and s.28(3)(b) and (7)(a). Back to reference of footnote 1
- HSWA 1974. s.1 and s.28(3)(b) and (7)(a). Back to reference of footnote 2
- HSWA 1974. s.28(3)(e) and (7)(b). Back to reference of footnote 3
- HSWA 1974. s.28(3)(e) and (7)(b). Back to reference of footnote 4
- Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 ("ATCSA"), section 17(2)(a). Back to reference of footnote 5
- ATCSA, section 17(2)(b). Back to reference of footnote 6
- ATCSA, section 17(2)(c). Back to reference of footnote 7
- ATCSA, section 17(2)(d). Back to reference of footnote 8
- See ATCSA, section 17(5). Back to reference of footnote 9
- See the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, s 28(3)(f) and (9A) and the section Reporting and publicity – Freedom of information. Back to reference of footnote 10
- HSWA 1974 - section 28(2) and section 28(7)(c). Back to reference of footnote 11
- HSWA 1974 , section 33(1)(j). Back to reference of footnote 12
- HSWA 1974, section 33(4)(e). Back to reference of footnote 13