Protection call for SOCA tip-offs

The profession is lobbying government to pass legislation that will protect
the identities of those who provide suspicious activity reports to the Serious
Organised Crime Agency.

The call from the profession comes after confirmation from SOCA that it had
received a single notification of a breach of confidentiality.

In a technical release published by the ICAEW last week, the institute said
members and office holders had expressed continuing concern over the
confidentiality of suspicious activity reports and vowed that it would continue
lobbying authorities for a statutory code governing the use of reports by legal
enforcement agencies.

The Home Office has released a circular to enforcement agencies containing
guidelines on the confidentiality of suspicious activity reports and protection
of reporters.

The circular makes it a disciplinary offence to compromise the
confidentiality of a suspicious activity report and is applicable to officials
working for HM Revenue & Customs, the Crown Prosecution Service and the
Asset Recovery Agency.

The ICAEW has welcomed the Home Office guidance as a step forward, but
emphasised that legal protection was still required as the guidance did not
apply to all law enforcement agencies who used the suspicious activity reports.

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