The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has been fined £325,000 by the ICO after they lost unencrypted DVDs containing recordings of police interviews.
The DVDs contained recordings of interviews with 15 victims of child sex abuse, to be used at the trial.
This is the second penalty imposed on the CPS following the loss of sensitive video recordings.
The DVDs contained the most intimate sensitive details of the victims, as well as the sensitive personal data of the perpetrator, and some identifying information about other parties.
The DVDs were sent by tracked delivery between two CPS offices, with the recipient office being in a shared building. The delivery was made outside office hours, and the DVDs – which were not in tamper-proof packaging – were left in the reception.
Although the building’s entry doors were locked, anyone with access to the building could access this reception area.
The DVDs were sent in November 2016, but it was not discovered that they were lost until December. The CPS notified the victims in March 2017, and reported the loss to the ICO the following month.
It is not known what has happened to the DVDs.
The ICO ruled that the CPS was negligent when it failed to ensure the videos were kept safe, and did not take into account the substantial distress that would be caused if the videos were lost.
It also found that, despite being fined £200,000 following a separate breach in November 2015 – in which victim and witness video evidence was also lost – the CPS had not ensured that appropriate care was being taken to avoid similar breaches re-occurring.
Steve Eckersley, Head of Enforcement, said:
“The victims of serious crimes entrusted the CPS to look after their highly sensitive personal data - a loss in trust could influence victims’ willingness to report serious crimes.
“The CPS failed to take basic steps to protect the data of victims of serious sexual offences. Given the nature of the personal data, it should have been obvious that this information must be properly safeguarded, as its loss could cause substantial distress.
“The CPS must take urgent action to demonstrate that it can be trusted with the most sensitive information.”
The CPS has self-identified systemic failings and is taking action to remedy them.
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 European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law which will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. The Government has confirmed the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR. The Government is introducing measures related to this and wider data protection reforms in a Data Protection Bill.
- 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.
- 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.