In this report, we offer guidance to criminologists attempting to navigate, and manage the impact of, laws that relate to the protection and disclosure of confidential and personal information that they gather in the course of their research.
We start by providing examples of the impact of relevant laws on the practice of criminologists to set this work in it proper context, and then provide a general overview of laws relating to issues such as privacy, confidentiality and compelled disclosure. Drawing on this background, Section Three provides brief responses to Frequently Asked Questions covering the ways researchers gather, store, use, disclose and reuse information. We conclude by examining possible future developments.
Throughout the report we attempt to illustrate how the practice of criminological research practically intersects with relevant laws. This intersection can be painful as relevant laws are by no means tailored to suit the environment of such research. However, our aim is to help criminologists and their institutions reach better informed decisions about management of legal risks although, of course, this report is not a substitute for specific advice.
Chalmers, R & Israel, M (2005) Caring for Data: Law, Professional Codes and the Negotiation of Confidentiality in Australian Criminological Research. Report for the Criminology Research Council (Australia). 57 pages. http://crg.aic.gov.au/reports/200304-09.pdf