Greater Manchester Police has been fined £150,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for losing three DVDs containing interviews with victims of violent or sexual crimes.
The Force attempted to send the unencrypted DVDs to the Serious Crime Analysis Section (SCAS) of the National Crime Agency (NCA) by recorded delivery – but they were never received. The DVDs, which showed named victims talking openly about crimes that they had suffered, have never been found.
The ICO’s investigation found that Greater Manchester Police had been sending unencrypted DVDs by recorded delivery to SCAS since 2009 and only stopped after the security breach in 2015.
It said that Greater Manchester Police (GMP) failed to keep highly sensitive personal information in its care, and did not have appropriate measures in place to guard against accidental loss, thereby breaching data protection legislation.
“When people talk to the police they have every right to expect that their information is handled with the utmost care and respect,” said the ICO’s enforcement group manager, Sally Anne Poole.
“Greater Manchester Police did not do this. The information it was responsible for was highly sensitive and the distress that would be caused if it was lost should have been obvious.
“Yet GMP was cavalier in its attitude to this data and it showed scant regard for the consequences that could arise by failing to keep the information secure,” she said.
This isn’t the first time that GMP has been fined by the ICO for breaching data protection law. Back in 2012, the Force was fined £150,000 after an unencrypted USB stick was stolen.
Footage being stolen or going missing is nothing new in the public sector: the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was fined £200,000 in 2015 after laptops containing police interviews were stolen from the private film studio tasked with editing them.
Meanwhile, in January 2015, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) admitted losing two discs containing information about police killings. The MoJ said at the time that disciplinary action would be taken against the individuals responsible, and that one member of staff had been suspended.
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