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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:

2. Disclosure is also permitted for the purpose of:

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” (i.e. 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.


  1. HSWA 1974. s.1 and s.28(3)(b) and (7)(a)
  2. HSWA 1974. s.1 and s.28(3)(b) and (7)(a)
  3. HSWA 1974. s.28(3)(e) and (7)(b)
  4. HSWA 1974. s.28(3)(e) and (7)(b)
  5. Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 ("ATCSA"), section 17(2)(a)
  6. ATCSA, section 17(2)(b)
  7. ATCSA, section 17(2)(c)
  8. ATCSA, section 17(2)(d)
  9. See ATCSA, section 17(5).
  10. 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.
  11. HSWA 1974 - section 28(2) and section 28(7)(c)
  12. HSWA 1974 , section 33(1)(j)
  13. HSWA 1974, section 33(4)(e)
Updated 2013-02-19