Police data leaks: a growing concern…

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Police data leaks: a growing concern…

We trust the authorities with our personal information in some of our most distressing times which is why it’s important that the Police must protect the data they have on us. But is our data always safe in the hands of the authorities?

As Big Brother Watch found out in a report, the security of our data with the police might be something we should all perhaps be a bit more concerned about…

A study was conducted between 2011 and 2015 in which Big Brother Watch discovered that at least 2,315 data breaches took place that were caused by Police staff. The findings in the report disclosed the amount and the type of data breaches that took place, from accessing data for personal reasons, to inappropriate use of data.

As we become more digital, so will our information that the Police handle. This has led to improvements within the police force, but it then may pave the way for data breaches, leaks, and even hacks to happen.

The Police could have even more access to our personal data with the possible introduction of the Internet Connection Records. This means that the police will be able to access our data that has the deepest insight into our personal lives.

Key findings

Big Brother Watch found that:

There has been 2,315 breaches in the police force in the last 5 years which includes:

  • 869 instances of inappropriate / unauthorised access to information;
  • 877 instances of inappropriate disclosure of data to third parties;
  • 25 cases involving misuse of the Police National Computer;
  • 1283 cases resulted in no disciplinary or formal disciplinary action being taken;
  • 297 cases resulted in either a resignation or a dismissal;
  • 70 cases resulted in a criminal conviction or caution;
  • 258 cases resulted in either a written or verbal warning.

There were notable instances such as:

  • Greater Manchester Police: an officer informed an individual they were to be arrested;
  • Metropolitan Police: an officer found the name of a victim amusing and so attempted to take a photo of his driving license to send to a friend on snapchat;
  • Cleveland Police: a special constable was dismissed for passing confidential information in relation to a detainee to a relative.


Based on the findings in the report, Big Brother Watch has put forward recommendations to help prevent police breaches from happening, such as:

  • Introducing custodial sentences for serious data breaches;
  • Where a serious breach is uncovered, the individual should be given a criminal record;
  • The mandatory reporting of a breach that concerns a member of the public;
  • The removal of Internet Connection Records from the Investigatory Powers Bill;
  • Adoption of the General Data Protection Regulations.

Making a claim

We represent victims for police data breaches so we can help you if you have been a victim.


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