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The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has been fined £325,000 by the ICO for losing recordings of sensitive police interviews. Not only did the CPS lose the footage, but they also failed to encrypt the lost police data as well.
The recordings were of multiple interviews with alleged child sex abuse victims that were to be used at trial.
It goes without saying that the unencrypted police data lost in this case was of an incredibly personal and sensitive nature. The fact that it was lost and allowed to be potentially exposed bas led to the huge fine imposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The recordings were supposed to be sent by tracked delivery between two CPS offices. The DVDs containing the footage were reportedly left in a reception area accessible to non-CPS staff, and they were not secured in tamper-proof packaging.
It took a month for the CPS to realise that the sensitive footage had been lost, and no one knows what happened to the DVDs.
The ICO found the CPS negligent. Head of Enforcement, Steve Eckersley, said:
“The victims of serious crimes entrusted the CPS to look after their highly sensitive personal data – a loss in trust could influence victims’ willingness to report serious crimes.
The CPS failed to take basic steps to protect the data of victims of serious sexual offences. Given the nature of the personal data, it should have been obvious that this information must be properly safeguarded, as its loss could cause substantial distress.
The CPS must take urgent action to demonstrate that it can be trusted with the most sensitive information.”
The severity of police data breaches – which includes data breaches by the CPS, like this one – can never be underestimated. The nature if the personal and sensitive data they have a duty to safeguard must near be allowed to be exposed or compromised; particularly when the data is for victims of serious crimes.
The fines that the ICO has the power to impose are now far greater as a result of the GDPR that came into force last week.
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