'Big Brother' fears over Dyfed-Powys data breaches


Jonny Drury

NO action was taken in eight Dyfed-Powys Police data breaches over five and a half years, according to Big Brother Watch.
Figures released this week show eight breaches in the force, out of 2,315 recorded in the report.  Out of all the forces who supplied information to Big Brother Watch, West Midlands Police recorded the highest number with 488.
Within the Dyfed-Powys information, the most notable cases was one in which an officer gave a USB device to a member of the public. It contained sensitive police information, including intelligence reports, emails and public information letters relating to crime. 
In response informal action was taken by the force.  One incident saw a civilian disclose information to a family member with a written warning issued.
Another incident saw police unlawfully disclose sensitive information to a member of the public, and on another occasion disclosed information to a family member.
One was given a written warning and another management advice.
A written warning was given out to a member of the force, after unlawful access to information on police systems in relation to a family member, including custody record, crime scene report and case preparation.
Checks on police data bases in relation to a third party who was a friend or an officer is another incident, with management action taken.  An officer also inappropriately accessed force systems for information on an historical case whereby an officer was a victim, with management action also taken.
And management action was also taken after an officer posted a card through the wrong door in error. The card contained data regarding an incident reported in relation to a third party.  The information did not contain any personal data (DPA 1998) that would not already be known to the neighbours.
Management action was taken, but of all eight incidents, no resignation or conviction occurred.  Renate Samson, chief executive of Big Brother Watch, said: “We trust the police to keep us safe, in the 21st Century that is as much about keeping our data secure as protecting us on the streets. 
“The Government are about to give law enforcement access to the details of all the websites each and every one of us look at. In light of our findings questions must be asked about whether more access will make for better policing, or only increase the opportunities for misuse.”
Overall, forces are committing 10 breaches a week, and Big Brother Watch is calling for the introduction of custodial sentences for serious data breaches and where a serious breach is uncovered the individual should be given a criminal record.
Dyfed-Powys Police was asked for a response, but has not yet provided one.

See full story in the County Times

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