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Disclosure Manual: Chapter 8 - The Sensitive Material Schedule

Refreshed: 21 October 2021|Legal Guidance

Assessment of sensitivity and schedule preparation

This schedule should be used to reveal to the prosecutor the existence of relevant unused material which the disclosure officer believes should be withheld from the defence. The disclosure officer must describe on the MG6D any relevant material which he or she believes would give rise to a real risk of serious prejudice to an important public interest if the existence of that material were revealed to the defence. The disclosure officer must also state the reason for that belief. This form will not be disclosed to the defence.

In those cases where there is no sensitive unused material, the disclosure officer should endorse and sign an MG6D to this effect and should submit this together with the MG6C and MG6E.

Disclosure officers should familiarise themselves with paragraph 6.14 of the CPIA Code of Practice, which offers a non-exhaustive list of the kinds of material which, depending on the circumstances of the case, may be considered sensitive. However, officers should remember that material is not sensitive just by virtue of falling into one of these categories. The material will only be sensitive if disclosure would give rise to a real risk of serious prejudice to an important public interest. Each item must be considered independently before it is included on the MG6D. Some items by their very nature will reveal why disclosure should be withheld. Others require more explanation. It is important that both the 'Description of item' and the 'Reasons for sensitivity' sections contain sufficient information to enable the prosecutor to make an informed decision as to whether or not the material itself should be viewed. Schedules containing insufficient information will be returned by the prosecutor. If there is any doubt about the sensitivity of the material, the prosecutor should be consulted.

In cases where it is not possible to describe the nature of the material in sufficient detail to enable the prosecutor to determine whether or not it should be viewed, the disclosure officer will need to make arrangements with the prosecutor to view the material with an appropriate level of security in place.

The police and the CPS must always take care to protect intelligence information and information given to the police in confidence. That will be so whether or not it is thought likely that the court will order its disclosure. If the investigator is unsure whether information was given in confidence, the position should be clarified with the person who provided the information.

When the schedule and any material are sent to the prosecutor, a protective marking should be applied to it consistent with the level of sensitivity of its contents. This will determine the manner in which the material is conveyed to and stored by the CPS. Reference should be made to Cabinet Office guidance on Government Security Classifications.

It should be noted that the schedule of sensitive material is only for material which meets the CPIA definition of sensitive, that should not be confused with information which is sensitive by reference to the Data Protection Act 2018 (i.e. sensitive personal information).

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