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Disclosure Manual: Chapter 38 - Guidance on Dealing with Disclosure involving Protected Person Material

Refreshed: 21 October 2021|Legal Guidance

The protection of witnesses and other persons is placed on a statutory footing under Chapter 4 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) 2005. Prosecutors, police, and other law enforcement agents should be aware of, and familiarise themselves with, the offences of disclosing information contained in Chapter 4 of SOCPA.

There may be other individuals who do not come under the scope of SOCPA, but who are included in a Protected Persons programme.

A person may be given 'Protected Person' status and offered support in the following scenarios:

  • a witness unacquainted with the criminal courts, who has been placed at risk because of the nature of the offence or offender in respect of which (or whom) he is to give evidence
  • the so-called 'protected witness', or 'protected assisting offender', who himself has committed offences of serious criminality and is now giving evidence against others involved in a similarly grave level of offending.

In either example, the framework of protection and support given will seek to meet the risk to (and needs of) the witness, whilst at the same time minimise any subsequent suggestion of inducement or lack of credibility as a result of the protection or support received.

A Protected Persons Unit (PPU) appointee will take responsibility for Protected Persons material as a 'Deputy Disclosure Officer'. It is the responsibility of that individual to notify the prosecutor of the status of a protected witness.

Guidance on disclosure in this sensitive area can be obtained from the Disclosure Protocol for Protected Persons Material. A copy can be obtained from the PPU appointee, as and when appropriate.

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