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Overview on The Disclosure of Information between Family and Criminal Agencies and Jurisdictions and 2024 Protocol in UK

Published on : 10 Jun 2024

The Disclosure of Information between Family and Criminal Agencies and Jurisdictions: 2024 Protocol in UK

The 2024 Protocol, which came into effect on March 1, 2024, marks a significant advancement in the exchange of information and material between criminal and family agencies and jurisdictions, particularly in cases involving alleged child abuse and care directions hearings. This protocol, developed by a collaborative effort among representatives from the judiciary, local authorities, police, National Police Chief’s Council, and Crown Prosecution Service, replaces the outdated 2013 Protocol and Good Practice Model. Its implementation aims to ensure relevance and effectiveness in addressing various circumstances requiring information sharing, covering both private and public family law proceedings.

Key Commitments and Objectives

One of the primary objectives of the protocol is to provide a consistent approach to information sharing nationally, emphasizing the safeguarding and promotion of the welfare of children and vulnerable adults. Timeliness, focus, and proportionality in requests for material and responses are key commitments outlined in the protocol. It also aims to recognize the importance of relevant information and material for all parties involved, including the police, local authorities, and the Crown Prosecution Service, in fulfilling their official functions. Additionally, the protocol seeks to minimize the need for unnecessary hearings, witness summonses, urgent applications, and Public Interest Immunity hearings.

Protocol Structure and Contents

The protocol is organized into three parts: Part A deals with disclosure from the police to family proceedings, Part B addresses disclosure sought by investigators, and Part C focuses on linked directions hearings. Annexes accompanying the protocol introduce standardized forms and guidance notes to facilitate the exchange of information. These annexes aim to streamline the process and ensure clarity and consistency in requests for material and responses.

Governance and Implementation

Local arrangements overseen by safeguarding partners are essential components of the protocol's governance. These arrangements address various aspects such as the identification of Single Points of Contact, response timescales, methods of material provision, cost recovery mechanisms, and oversight processes. The protocol emphasizes the importance of ongoing evaluation and improvement based on implementation experiences, with a review scheduled for 2025.

Part A: Disclosure from the Police to Family Proceedings

This section outlines procedures for local authorities to request police material relevant to family proceedings, emphasizing timely notification, completion of specific forms, and adherence to agreed timescales.

Establishment of Local Arrangements

Parties involved in legal proceedings must adhere to prescribed forms and guidance outlined in Annexes to ensure uniformity and efficiency.

Prioritizing Existing Information

Local authorities are required to review existing police information before making any new requests, minimizing duplication of efforts.

Notification and Request for Police Material

In public law proceedings, timely notification to the police regarding relevant material is crucial for obtaining disclosure within 20 business days.

Response to Delayed Disclosure

If disclosure cannot be provided within the stipulated timeframe, the police must notify the applicant and provide realistic timescales.

Procedure in Private Law Proceedings

Court instructions must be followed diligently, with applications for disclosure accompanied by specified forms to avoid rejection.

Requesting Information from Criminal Courts

Requests for information from criminal courts must be focused and limited to relevant details, ensuring efficient processing.

Procedure for Police Disclosure in Family Proceedings

Requests for police disclosure in family proceedings must be specific and justified, with adherence to prescribed procedures and undertakings.

Part B: Disclosure Sought by an Investigator

Part B addresses procedures for investigators to seek information from local authorities, emphasizing focused requests, collaboration, and adherence to disclosure guidelines.

Establishment of Local Arrangements

Similar to Part A, local arrangements are essential for using prescribed forms and guidelines for information sharing.

Responsibilities of an Investigator

Investigators must adhere to guidelines and procedures outlined in the Attorney General’s Guidelines on Disclosure, ensuring fairness and transparency in the investigative process.

Handling Instructions for Sensitive Material

Material deemed sensitive must be handled with utmost care, with adherence to handling instructions provided by third parties.

Police Access to Family Proceedings Information

Protocols are established for police access to family court judgments and materials, ensuring relevance and confidentiality.

Voluntary Disclosure by Third Parties

Best practices dictate informing third parties of investigations and preserving relevant material, although legal obligations may vary.

Witness Summonses

Disputes over material disclosure are rare, with legal provisions ensuring protection of interests and adherence to procedural rules.

Part C: Linked Directions Hearings

This part outlines procedures for coordinating linked directions hearings between criminal and care proceedings, emphasizing communication, cooperation, and timely sharing of case summaries and schedules of issues.

Facilitating Collaboration

Protocols are established for linked directions hearings in criminal and care proceedings, enhancing coordination between relevant courts and parties.

Preparation and Circulation of Case Summary

Local authorities and CPS must prepare and circulate case summaries, detailing the basis of applications and proposed assessments.

Joint Preparation and Discussion of Issues

Advocates in criminal and care proceedings must meet to discuss issues and identify necessary directions, ensuring alignment and efficiency.

Cross Referencing of Court Files

Court files in linked cases are cross-referenced and clearly marked, facilitating easy access and identification.

Issuance of Directions

Judges determine the appropriateness of joint or separate hearings and issue directions accordingly, ensuring adherence to procedural rules.

Conclusion and Outcome Notification

Orders made in care proceedings are provided to relevant parties in criminal proceedings, promoting transparency and accountability.


The 2024 Protocol represents a significant step forward in enhancing information disclosure practices in cases of alleged child abuse. By providing a comprehensive framework and clear guidance, it aims to promote consistency, efficiency, and the welfare of vulnerable individuals involved in family and criminal proceedings.