Types of police and criminal justice data breaches
It is the job of the police to protect us, and in a digital society, that also means protecting our data. However, all too often, our trust in those in authority who have access to our personal information is being undermined, resulting in a police data protection breach.
We can make data breach claims against:
- Police forces
- Individual police officers
- The courts
- The Ministry of Justice
Where a breach occurs, the ICO can respond with actions such as financial penalties and prosecutions.
Some examples of cases investigated by the ICO include where:
- Gloucestershire Police was fined for revealing identities of abuse victims in bulk email
- The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was fined £325,000 after they lost unencrypted DVDs containing recordings of police interviews
- Greater Manchester Police was fined £150,000 after three DVDs containing footage of interviews with victims of violent or sexual crimes got lost in the post
- Dyfed-Powys Police was fined after an email, including information that could be used to identify eight sex offenders, was sent to a member of the public in error
- Kent Police was fined after sensitive personal details of a woman who accused her partner of domestic abuse were passed to the suspect
- Police misuse of confidential information where Scotland Yard breached data protection laws to spy on one of its officers while she was on sick leave
- The Ministry of Justice was fined £180,000 for “serious failings” in the handling of confidential data following the loss of a hard drive containing the details of almost 3,000 prisoners at Erlestoke prison in Wiltshire.
Take a look at our case studies to find out more about the types of data breaches that are occurring across the UK.
Making a police or criminal justice data breach claim
Are you owed compensation for a police or criminal justice data breach?
Cybercriminals are becoming more and more sophisticated, but this doesn’t let the police and criminal justice bodies organisations off the hook. If the police have done everything in their power to protect your data and have robust security processes and procedures in place, it is unlikely that a claim would be successful. This is why we usually wait for the results of an investigation by the ICO before starting a claim for police data protection breaches.
But, in most cases, police and criminal justice data breaches happen because of human error and/or a failure to implement reasonable and robust processes. And these errors (which are just as likely to happen offline as online) must also be addressed.
Common police data protection breaches include wrongly releasing information to third parties, sending information to the wrong people, or even putting inappropriate things on social media.
As well as professional breaches due to a lack of care, individual police officers are regularly falling foul of data protection laws for accessing data outside of lawful policing purposes. But even where officers think that they are acting with the right intentions, there are strict rules about how such information can be accessed, and by ignoring these, officers are breaking the law and risking severe penalties.
Crucially, if the police (or another organisation) have failed to protect your personal data, you have a right to claim compensation. Even if you haven’t suffered as a result.
How to start a police or criminal justice system compensation claim
Our professional, friendly team will advise you on whether you have a valid claim against a police force, police officer or other civil justice organisation. If you are not sure whether your private information has been misused or mishandled, we can find this out for you.
Once we establish that you have grounds for police or criminal justice data breach compensation, we will take care of the whole claims process for you.
Our team will contact the relevant body that you hold responsible for failing to protect your data. Where we believe you were let down by their security processes and the police breached your confidentiality, we will work tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve.
To get the claims process started, you can use our simple and secure online claim form to share the details of your situation, and we will get back to you shortly to let you know whether we can help.
To speak to a member of our team now about what to do if you have been a victim of a police or criminal justice data breach, please call us on 0151 363 5895.
What compensation can you claim for a police or criminal justice data breach?
You can make a civil justice or police data breach claim if an organisation has failed to protect your personal data – regardless of whether or not you have suffered as a result of the breach. However, where you have experienced financial, medical harm, anguish or anxiety, we can make a more significant case.
A police or criminal justice data breach can lead to both financial and/or identity theft. And the result of either of these can be devastating. With enough information, cybercriminals can apply for credit in your name, set up fraudulent bank accounts and access your existing accounts.
Even if you haven’t lost out financially after a police or criminal justice data breach, this doesn’t mean that there is “no harm done.” A personal data breach is a 21st-century version of being burgled, and, on that same note, a breach of confidentiality by a police officer is extremely serious. If a criminal came into your home and stole your private information, you would be distressed. So why should you feel any less upset at having your personal data taken?
Being the victim of a crime can have a significant impact on you mentally and physically. Of course, everyone reacts differently, but for some people, the effects of the police leaking confidential information can include a lack of sleep, feeling ill, unsettled or confused. Stress can also affect your friends, your family and your job.
The full impact of a police or criminal justice data breach is not always immediate.
Dealing with many different types of police and criminal justice data breach cases, one thing that has become apparent to our solicitors is that the full impact is often not felt until months after the initial violation.
In particular, where personal records are accessed, we’ve seen cases where experiencing a data breach has resulted in adverse life events such as having to move house or area, losing a job, relationship stress and separation, and dislocation from friends and family. All of which can lead to a diagnosable psychological injury. Importantly, this often happens months after the initial breach was revealed.
Police or criminal justice compensation after ICO investigation.
At Hayes Connor, we can help you make claims against the police and other civil justice organisations already fined by the ICO.
Under the GDPR, organisations MUST tell you if they have breached your personal data. But despite this, it is often the case that people still don’t know that their data has been breached until they hear that the ICO has fined a police force or other body. In such cases, it’s worth finding out whether your data was put at risk to see if you have a claim for compensation. We can also keep you updated on upcoming and current police data breach claim investigations.
We can also keep you updated on upcoming and current data breach claim investigations.
Can the police share your personal information?
As you may be aware, the police collect personal data from a wide range of sources. However, they are obligated to only use the minimum amount of personal information necessary to carry out a particular activity.
The police may process your personal information, but only if this is for law enforcement purposes, as outlined in the Data Protection Act 2018. Personal data can only be used by the police when the law allows them to do so and when it is considered ‘necessary’ and ‘proportionate’.
Where there are no other appropriate grounds, the police must ask for your consent to lawfully process your data. You have the right to withdraw your consent at any time if this is the case.
Can the police breach GDPR?
If the police suffer a data breach, the financial records or personal data of anyone on their system can be put in jeopardy and they could be found in breach of GDPR. The police could also be found in breach of GDPR if they fail to report a data breach to the UK’s Information Commissioners Office (ICO) within 72 hours of discovering it.
Breaching GDPR could lead to a maximum fine of £17.5 million or 4% of annual global turnover – whichever is greater. The ICO can also issue other penalties, including:
- Suspending data transfers to third party countries
- Reprimands and warnings
- Ordering the restriction, rectification, or erasure of data
- Imposing a temporary or permanent ban on data processing
Can the police breach data protection?
Yes, the police can breach the Data Protection Act 2018 which is the UK’s implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). If the police suffer a data breach that puts citizen’s data at risk, or if they fail to report a breach, they can be found in breach of this Act.
Start your civil justice or police data breach claim today.
At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we help you to claim compensation and steer you through the aftermath of a police or criminal justice data breach – minimising the impact on you as much as possible.
With strict time limits in place for making a data breach claim against a civil justice body, it’s important to act now to make sure you don’t miss out on your right to claim.