A former Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Adam Simmonds, is charged and due to be on trial next year for breaching data protection provisions.
Mr Simmonds is accused of unlawfully disclosing information about a Wellingborough MP, Peter Bone, during his time in office from 2012 to 2016. There’s little clarification as to what information was disclosed, but the documents were classified as confidential, according to reports.
Infringement of the DPA
The Independent Police and Crime Commissioner (IPCC) investigated the claims that Mr Simmonds had disclosed “sensitive” information which related to a criminal investigation back in 2013. He’s been charged with breaching section 55 of the Data Protection Act (DPA), which details that:
- Obtain or disclose personal data or the information contained in personal data; or
- Obtain the disclosure to another person of the information contained in personal data.
If someone breaches these provisions, they can be guilty of an offence. Mr Simmonds is accused, as per section 55, of knowingly or recklessly breaching the DPA by disclosing the information. The alleged offence happened sometime between November 2013 and May 2014, and despite evidence piling up against Mr Simmonds, his solicitor indicated that he’d be pleading not guilty to the offence.
Misconduct in public office
As Mr Simmonds held a position in a public office, the alleged offence can constitute to misconduct while in public office. If he is found guilty of both offences he’ll likely have to pay fines imposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
There goes another breach
This isn’t the first time that a PCC has faced court proceedings in relation to data breaches. Earlier this year, Julia Mulligan, the PCC for North Yorkshire and her Chief Constable, Dave Jones, was accused of ‘persistently’ breaching the DPA as well as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.
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First published by Editor on December 29, 2016
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