Tag: police breach
A member of the public recently alerted the media to a police email data breach that is understood to have occurred at Dorset police. Revealing details of an alleged hate crime incident, the email came as a shock to the recipient, who could not understand how and why he had received the private information.
At Your Lawyers – the Data Leak Lawyers – as leading privacy claims lawyers, we have seen far too much information exposure caused by email errors. There are basic security barriers and procedures that can prevent such mistakes from occurring. However, unfortunately, many public sector organisations continue to commit needless data protection errors.
The police have specific data access privileges, giving them the right to process and store highly sensitive personal information for the purposes of detecting and fighting crime. It is, therefore, vital that the police ensure they are doing their utmost to protect personal data. Where they fail to abide by their legal duties, they could be forced to issue compensation pay-outs to those affected. It is important that all members of the public feel safe when disclosing their information to the police.
A misconduct hearing at Dyfed-Powys Police has reportedly told of a police officer misusing information for non-professional purposes.
The personal details in question are understood to have been taken when the officer fined a woman for a breach of Covid restrictions. If the special officer in question had not resigned before the hearing, he would likely have lost his job over the misuse of personal information.
As citizens, we have a right to trust that police officers use our information solely for the purposes of law enforcement. If they ever take advantage of the information, they have access to, it can constitute gross professional misconduct and a breach of data protection law. Anyone who has had their data exposed or misused by the police may be able to claim compensation for the harm caused.
The police have unique rights when it comes to processing and viewing personal information, but that does not mean that there are no limits governing their access to private data. In fact, because they have important legal responsibilities, and the data they can access is so sensitive, it is even more vital that they follow strict data protection rules. Misusing police computers can, therefore, be a serious offence.
We naturally trust the police to keep personal information secure by means of technical cybersecurity measures. Just as importantly, we expect it to be protected in accordance with their assumed integrity and professional standards. When a police officer breaches this duty, the effects can be devastating for those affected, particularly for crime victims in cases where the exposed information relates to a sensitive and traumatic incident.
If you have been affected by a police data breach, you may be entitled to claim compensation for the harm caused. No police officer should be exempt from justice when it comes to data privacy breaches. Your Lawyers, as leading Data Leak Lawyers, are here to help.
In 2017, it was reported that West Midlands Police officers had been responsible for as many as 24 data breaches in just one year. For the most part, the West Midlands Police data breaches were reportedly caused by the inappropriate disclosure of private information.
The breaches, which are understood to have occurred over the course of 2016, show the significant role that human error can play in causing information security incidents. While the West Midlands Police did not reveal specifics of the individual cases, it is nevertheless concerning that officers with access to such sensitive information were not being more diligent in their data protection duties.
For their crime fighting duties, the police force necessarily hold a great deal of sensitive information, so it essential that there are robust defences in place to prevent this data from being exposed. Sometimes, when the police fail in their data protection duties, it can cause immense distress to those affected and can even compromise their personal safety. To us, it is important that all police data breaches are thoroughly scrutinised, which is why we can offer free, no-obligation advice to anyone affected by an incident like this.
The vital crime-fighting function of the police means that they are allowed to request, process and use much more data than most people would ordinarily disclose to a third party. Many trust the police to handle the information that they are given access to with caution and respect, only requesting and viewing it when absolutely necessary. However, there are unfortunate examples of police using data without consent, abusing their powers to view or use information inappropriately.
Police officers are not above data protection law and this is important to remember. It may be that certain allowances are granted to them in accordance with the GDPR, but they are still bound to certain restrictions.
As such, those who are affected by police data breaches may be entitled to claim compensation for the harm caused.
It has recently been confirmed that a former Hampshire police officer has been reportedly banned from ever entering the police service again after it was found that he accessed private records without a valid policing reason. The Special Constable in question is understood to have resigned from his position before superiors could dismiss him for his data snooping.
While police officers are granted information access to records and details that are needed for casework, they are not authorised to view or use information outside of their policing workload without any good reason. Campbell violated his professional duty by accessing information without a legitimate reason, reportedly only browsing the records due to “curiosity”.
Regardless of the motives of the Hampshire police officer, there is no excuse for breaching data protection law. We trust the police service to maintain strict control over personal information, so it is important that any officers who breach the duty they owe to the public are held accountable for their actions.
Despite looking up private police records without authorisation, a Detective Sergeant has recently evaded dismissal following a misconduct hearing. In the Northamptonshire detective data breach case, the Detective Sergeant reportedly looked up the details of a woman with whom he was engaging in an extra-marital relationship with at the time, who was involved in a case he was working on.
His actions reportedly amounted to misconduct, so the Northamptonshire Police appear to be sending mixed messages by not taking the matter any further. The police can, and often do, dismiss officers for similar offences, but this officer’s acceptance of the accusations against him, and his standing in the force, seem to have allowed him to avoid further consequences.
Police data breaches like this should be treated with the severity that they merit, taking account of the potential damage such actions can cause. Police services cannot afford to let employees off lightly for breaching data access regulations, as doing so could risk compromising the force’s reputation and its overall data security and integrity.
A recent data handling error has left thousands of arrest records lost, after they were accidentally deleted from the Police National Computer (PNC).
The mistake represents an extremely severe blow to police operations, which could pose a threat to public safety. While initial statements set the number of lost records at 150,000, it has since been reported that as many as 400,000 crime records could be affected.
As one of our major national institutions, it is worrying to see that the police force has been hit by data loss of this scale. There is no room for such errors in an organisation responsible for protecting so much important information, which is one of its key weapons in detecting and arresting suspects.
A constable at Derbyshire Police has recently faced a misconduct hearing over allegations of unlawfully accessing records of a police incident and then sharing a photo of the file with colleagues.
Although the officer’s actions contravened policing standards and data protection law, he has escaped dismissal and will be allowed to continue serving at Derbyshire Police.
Regardless of the verdict of the hearing, a breach such as this should never have occurred at all. Testaments to the officer’s reportedly “excellent” work as an officer do not erase his culpability for what has been regarded as an incredibly reckless action. As an organisation with access to extensive personal data, the police service has a vital duty to be rigorous in data protection and we should all feel safe that our information with them is secure. Our trust in the police should never be abused.
The Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Tony Porter, has recently spoken of his concerns regarding the technology used by local councils and the police to monitor public movements.
As the government watchdog designed to ensure government compliance with the surveillance camera code of practice, it is worrying that the commissioner believes the restrictions on local authorities may not be sufficient.
In particular, Mr Porter reportedly warned that the use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras is unregulated by central government, likening their usage to MI5 tracking. In fact, the security services are subject to much tighter restrictions, while the level of surveillance led by councils and the police appears to be going under the radar.
At Your Lawyers – The Data Leak Lawyers – we always advocate for personal privacy, so it is worrying that the government may be unnecessarily storing data and information pertaining to members of the public.