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Procuring illegal abortion

Date of request: 21 September 2023
Reference: 1127-23


Could you please supply details on how many people have been arrested on suspicion of any of the following offences between 2019 and 2023:


  • Administering drugs or using instruments to procure abortion (s. 58 OAPA 1861)
  • Procuring drugs etc to induce an abortion (s. 59 OAPA 1861)
  • Child Destruction (s1. Infant Life Preservation Act 1929)
  • Please break the figures down by year.
  • Please provide the sex of the person arrested.
  • Please provide the age of the person arrested.
  • Please indicate whether they were charged.
  • Please provide a brief description of the offence, where possible.


We have searched for recorded arrests as per the following Home Office categories:

Legislation Home Office Code
Section 58 OAPA 14/01 – Procuring illegal abortion
Section 58 OAPA 14/02 – Procuring illegal abortion
Section 1 Infant Life Preservation Act 1929 04/03 – Intentional destruction of a viable unborn child

The following table shows a breakdown of the number of arrests recorded by year.


Data correct as of 17th October 2023.


  2019 2022 Sum:
Administering drugs or using instruments to procure abortion 1 1
Child destruction 1 1
Sum: 1 1 2


Following theses arrests no charges were sought.

With reference to the additional details requested, due to the low numbers reported in each year and information that is already available in the public domain via Home Office data tables (information published here is provided quarterly so pinpoints this information to a smaller three month period rather than within a year), and previous FOI disclosures there is a risk that those involved could identify themselves therefore Section 40(2) is applicable.

  • Section 40(2) – Third party personal Information

This is an absolute exemption so therefore there is no requirement to conduct a harm or public interest test. Any information is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act if it relates to or is supplied by another individual and disclosure of that information would contravene any of the data protection principles set out in:


(a) Article 5(1) of the UK GDPR,

(b) Section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018.


A Freedom of Information disclosure is a disclosure to the world. Therefore information that is provided can be viewed by any member of the public. To provide copies of the recorded details as you have requested may have severe consequences. For example, an individual may be identified by another member of the public. Even if specific personal data such as names we’re redacted, the reports specific incidents in detail which can allow individuals to identify themselves, and be aware that their personal data has been used unlawfully.

Should the information be provided in a format in which a living individual could be identified this would constitute personal data. This would then become a breach of rights provided under the Data Protection Act 2018. Information held on an individual by Avon and Somerset Constabulary is done so lawfully and is used for a policing purpose in line with the principles set out in the UK GDPR. Our privacy policy can be viewed here.

This serves as a partial refusal notice under section 17(1) of the FOI Act.

To assist further, I can confirm that if you were to limit your request for additional details to the number of the above arrests in which the suspect was the pregnant party or a third party, this is something we would be able to provide.

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