Practice and Procedure

R (On the application of A) v NATIONAL PROBATION SERVICE (2003)

PUBLISHED November 18, 2003

The National Probation Service had erred in failing to consider the rights of the applicant when considering him for early release on licence by deciding that a third party should be informed of the applicant's conviction.Application for judicial review of a decision of the National Probation Service, ('NPS') that the applicant ('X') should be released on licence from a life sentence with a condition requiring X to inform the manager of a sheltered accommodation of his conviction. X, aged 70, was to be released on licence on 19 November 2003. He was convicted of the murder of his wife in 1997. In early 2003 the Parole Board recommended X's release on licence. The Board did not impose conditions for his release. X wished to purchase a unit in a sheltered accommodation block. NPS pursuant to its role under the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 carried out a risk assessment of X and his likelihood to reoffend or harm others under the Home Office OASIS and the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) systems of assessing risk. On 25 September 2003, NPS recommended that one of the conditions of Z's release on licence should be that he must inform the manager of the sheltered accommodation of his conviction. X submitted: (i) that the condition was not lawfully imposed and constituted a disproportionate and therefore unlawful interference with his right to respect for private and family life under Art.8 of the European Convention on Human Rights; and (ii) any disclosure of his conviction would not be protected by the Data Protection Act 1998 and could be further disclosed to other parties.HELD: (1) NPS had in making its risk assessment not properly addressed Z's rights or the potential harm that could result from the disclosure of his conviction. It had made its decision on the basis that there was a presumption of disclosure rather then that disclosure was the exception. Its conclusion was therefore made on the wrong basis and accordingly its decision of 25 September 2003 should be set aside. (R v (1) Chief Constable for the North Wales Police Area Authority (2) Secretary of State for the Home Office (3) National Association for the Care & Resettlement of offenders, ex parte AB & CD sub nom R v Chief Constable of North Wales Police, ex parte Thorpe (1998) 3 WLR 57 considered) (2) (Obiter) Whilst the disclosure in question in the present case was not protected under the Data Protection Act 1998 any information disclosed could have been protected a common law duty of confidentiality.Application allowed.