Success Stories

Her Majesty’s Court Service (HMCS)

Under recent legislation, fines are related to income and defendants are required to provide details of both their income and expenditure (means data). This information is required only to determine the level of fine. Defendants have 28 days in which to appeal. After that, the case is dead. There is no reason for HMCS to retain means data, which are personal data, after 28 days, yet they are kept for three years.

The Data Protection Society raised this matter with the Information Commissioner who decided that the means data of defendants who are found not guilty should be destroyed immediately after a court case. However, this applies only from the point when that decision was made. Logically, we cannot distinguish between the means data of those who are found not guilty in the future and those found not guilty in the past. We have therefore asked the Information Commissioner to re-consider this. We think that all means data of those found not guilty should be destroyed. We also see no reason why any means data should be kept after 28 days and are currently discussing this issue with the Information Commissioner.

HMCS requires extremely detailed information about your means – utility bills for the past 12 months, maintenance payments, regular income plus any bonuses, even the amount you spend on lottery tickets etc. etc. - and can demand proof. Those found to have entered inaccurate data may be fined £5,000 and sent to prison for six months. Although this sanction is rarely applied, it is certainly enough to worry the ordinary person. The whole point of this requirement for you to provide means data under threat of draconian fines and prison is to persuade you to plead guilty even if you are innocent. The courts can then collect fines without the need for costly hearings. It is just a money-making scam. We think that this is deeply offensive in a democratic society and we will continue to campaign against it.


You are entitled to obtain your personal data from the MOJ just like any other data controller. However, the MOJ insists on the money being paid by cheque or postal order but they can’t refuse legal tender – cash – yet this is precisely what they have been doing..

We contacted the Information Commissioner who agreed with us and is now working with the MOJ to install a system whereby data subjects can pay in cash.

The MOJ thought that they were the law but we showed them that they were not. Details of the new system are currently being discussed with the Information Commissioner.