Police flout data protection laws by selling driver info


By Martin Graham

STRATHCLYDE Police are flouting data protection laws by charging £60 to reveal details of drivers involved in collisions.

Police have traditionally refused to disclose driver’s addresses or insurance policy numbers, saying that it contravenes the Data Protection Act.

But Strathclyde Police are charging £60.50 to release Road Crash Reports, which records the name and address of the owner and driver, as well as insurance company details and policy number.

The policy of charging for the report has affected farmers and landowners in Argyll, who are forced to pay the £60.50 fee every time a driver damages a fence or wall in a crash.

One farmer from Lochgiplhead has had to pay out over £1,200 after his property was damaged in 20 car crashes.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has appealed to Strathclyde Police to give the information for free to landowners.

He said: “Farmers or other landowners whose property is damaged in such a way have the right to request certain information from the police or the driver of the vehicle involved, which should be provided free of charge.

“The type of information which may be requested included details of the vehicle involved, the make and registration number, the name of the driver but not their address, and, if known, the insurance company and policy number covering the vehicles use.”

But Mr MacAskill’s comments contradict the guidance given by the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland.

Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Barker is the secretary of ACPOS.

He said: “The victim of the damage is entitled to obtain the driver’s name and details of the offending vehicle, including the make, model, colour and the registration mark.

“Under the Data Protection Act, the police cannot provide individuals with information such as the driver’s address or policy number.”

John Warmerdam is a farmer from Kilmartin in Argyll.

He said: “I welcome Mr MacAskill’s statement and hope that the police will now be forced to reviews this dubious practice of charging people for details they should be entitled to.”

Jamie McGrigor MSP said: “I share my farming constituents’ surprise at the apparent discrepancies between what information the Justice Secretary believes can be provided to farmers and what information police officers believe they can provide.”