The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is set to bring into force section 56 of the DPA, covering enforced subject access requests, on 10th March 2015.
Enforced Subject Access (ESA) requests will typically occur when a person wishes to see another individual’s criminal record, but chooses not to use the established legal system ( Disclosure and Barring Service, formerly CRB checks etc). There has been occasions when some private landlords have used this process prior to making an offer of accommodation.
The change will now make it a criminal offence for employers, landlords and other third parties to require individuals to make a subject access request and provide them with the results before offering ‘employment’, ‘accommodation’, or ‘offering other goods’, ‘facilities’ or ‘services’.
Individual (and companies) who requires someone to make a subject access request is committing a criminal offence. This is an offence which can be heard either by a magistrates court or a crown court, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Committing such an offence in England and Wales can carry an unlimited fine.
The ICO has welcomed the change and has issued guidance on section 56 of the DPA that explains how the change will apply.
Welsh Tenants welcomes the clarification and warns that private landlords who use these techniques prior to or on condition of making an offer of accommodation will be found and prosecuted.