The Coroners and Justice Act 2009 received Royal Assent in November 2009 with the main provisions coming into force on 1 February 2010. The Act makes amendments to the Data Protection Act 1998 ("DPA") providing wider powers for the Information Commissioner in relation to the enforcement of the DPA regime.
Under the DPA, public and private sector employers are responsible for complying with the DPA in relation to the way in which they hold and maintain personal data. The Act provides the Information Commissioner with powers to serve a public sector data controller with an assessment notice to check whether the organisation is complying with its duties under the DPA. The Act confers further powers to enter and inspect any premises which are the subject of an assessment notice if the organisation has failed to comply with a requirement imposed by the Information Commissioner. The powers do not yet extend to private sector data controllers.
The Act also introduces an offence of holding a person in slavery or servitude or requiring another person to perform forced or compulsory labour. If convicted, the person could face imprisonment of up to 14 years. Previously such offences have been prosecuted under immigration or criminal legislation, however the European Court of Human Rights held in Siliadin v France (2006) 43 EHRR 16 that Member States have a positive obligation to penalise practices that contravene the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 4, which states that 'No one shall be held in slavery or servitude'; and 'No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour'. The section came into force on 6 April 2010.