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Privacy rights campaigners, Big Brother Watch, have produced a damning insight in to the extent of data breaches committed by the police in the UK.
According to the report, 10 data breaches are committed every week, with some 2,315 being committed between June 2011 and December 2015.
In the wake of government calls for increasing powers for authorities to access private and personal information, the worry about data safety in the hands of the very people responsible for continual breaches is a cause for concern.
The report goes on to confirm that 869 members of policing staff accessed personal information not for policing purposes, and information was inappropriately shared with third parties 877 times. The figure of 2,315 is damning enough, but it’s worth mentioning that it could be higher as not all police authorities disclosed information used in the report.
This is a real cause for concern, particularly as calls for greater snooping powers continue to creep through the government all the time.
It actually comes as no surprise to us. Right now we are representing people making claims for police data breaches, with data breaches being scarily common for public organisations in general. Even minor data breaches can be serious – especially in criminal cases where witness information could actually be a danger to a person’s life if it ends up in the wrong hands!
What’s equally as worrying is that more than half of the breaches resulted in absolutely no disciplinary action being taken against the offending member of staff. In fact, the report says that only 3% of cases resulted in a criminal conviction or a caution.
This is really concerning. The misuse of private information is a serious problem, and it’s distressing to read just how common it is amongst the very people who are paid and trusted to protect us. We’re not just sitting here and slamming the police – it is extremely important that they look after our very valuable and personal data, because breaches could cause so much distress and far wider problems.
A lot needs to be done in terms of organisations and their responsibility to uphold our right to privacy and data security.
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