Greater Manchester Police has been fined £150,000 after three DVDs containing footage of interviews with victims of violent or sexual crimes got lost in the post.
The force sent the unencrypted DVDs to the Serious Crime Analysis Section (SCAS) of the National Crime Agency by recorded delivery but they were never received. The DVDs, which showed named victims talking openly, have never been found.
An investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found that Greater Manchester Police failed to keep highly sensitive personal information in its care secure and did not have appropriate measures in place to guard against accidental loss. This is a breach of data protection law.
Sally Anne Poole, ICO Enforcement Group Manager, said:
“When people talk to the police they have every right to expect that their information is handled with the utmost care and respect.
“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.”
The ICO 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.
The ICO previously fined GMP £150,000 in 2012 after an unencrypted USB stick was stolen.
Notes to Editors
- The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
- The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
- The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit. The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
- The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law that will replace the Data Protection Act 1998 and will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. The government has confirmed that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR.
- Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which make sure that personal information is:
- fairly and lawfully processed;
- processed for limited purposes;
- adequate, relevant and not excessive;
- accurate and up to date;
- not kept for longer than is necessary;
- processed in line with your rights;
- secure; and
- not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.
- The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) sit alongside the Data Protection Act. They give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications. There are specific rules on:
- marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes;
- cookies (and similar technologies);
- keeping communications services secure; and
- customer privacy as regards traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings.
We aim to help organisations comply with PECR and promote good practice by offering advice and guidance. We will take enforcement action against organisations that persistently ignore their obligations.
- Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) are subject to a right of appeal to the (First-tier Tribunal) General Regulatory Chamber against the imposition of the monetary penalty and/or the amount of the penalty specified in the monetary penalty notice.
- Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
- To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.