A quick hypothetical. If I was assaulted, and provided video evidence to the authorities which the police used to successfully catch my assailant, would the police have to share my assailant's details with me?

Let's assume that the assailant was given a formal warning but not charged, and I wanted to pursue civil action, but I didn't have the assailant's details. Could the police refuse to tell me?

(Not concerned about the the likelihood of a civil case succeeding, just a hypothetical)

Specifically I'm asking about the UK. Do the four UK Nations vary at all in this regard?

2 Answers 2


No. The police cannot determine if you have a lawful reason to know the details. Not their job.

You can file your civil case using fictitious defendant name and then just apply for a court order to disclose who the guy actually is as part of the disclosure process. Provided that the court is satisfied you have a case, it will grant such order and the police will have to obey it.

  • Can you cite any references please? Nov 30, 2020 at 10:13
  • @gingerbreadboy rephrased and added a reference about fictitious defendant.
    – Greendrake
    Nov 30, 2020 at 11:26
  • Can you cite something specific to UK law? "John Doe" tends to be a US thing. Nov 30, 2020 at 15:15
  • @PaulJohnson In the UK they may use "ABC" instead. I don't have any UK-specific citation. Rather, I presume that the rules & practices around suing unknown-yet defendants won't be drastically different between the US and UK. If I was in the place of the OP I would do exactly as my answer provides.
    – Greendrake
    Dec 1, 2020 at 8:58
  • 2
    @gingerbreadboy It's not totally impossible that the police would actually tell you the details. I would ask — there is nothing to lose. But I just do not see why they would be legally obliged to tell.
    – Greendrake
    Dec 1, 2020 at 13:04

As far as I know, law enforcement does have the choice of whether or not they tell you the details. Obviously, they can't tell you everything about this person, but they can choose whether or not to tell you simple things like the criminal's name.

  • 1
    I assume that's what happens if you as a private person ask them. If you sue the unknown person in court, then the court will ask the police, and the court will very likely get an answer.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 2, 2021 at 10:36

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