‘Lost’ DVDs cost GMP £150,000

Middleton Guardian - - FRONT PAGE - NEAL KEELING

GREATER Manch­ester Po­lice has been fined £150,000 af­ter DVDs con­tain­ing footage of in­ter­views with victims of vi­o­lent and sex­ual crimes were lost in the post.

The force sent the three 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 GMP 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 £120,000 in 2012 af­ter an un­en­crypted USB stick was stolen. The mem­ory stick hold­ing the names of in­for­mants was stolen from a de­tec­tive’s home in Old­ham.

The force was fined and slammed by the In­for­ma­tion Com­mis­sion af­ter the stick con­tain­ing the names of peo­ple who tip off of­fi­cers was stolen. In a damn­ing re­port, the In­for­ma­tion Com­mis­sion’s Of­fice said there were ‘sig­nif­i­cant fail­ings’ sur­round­ing the blun­der which ‘send a shiver down the spine’.

The mem­ory stick has still not been recovered.

There were 1,000 more un­en­crypted de­vices within GMP at the time

It is un­der­stood the names were not reg­u­lar po­lice in­for­mants but mem­bers of the pub­lic who passed on sen­si­tive al­le­ga­tions about drug-deal­ing.

The mem­ory stick is also be­lieved to have in­cluded de­tails of pre­vi­ous po­lice anti-drug op­er­a­tions, po­ten­tial tar­gets for ar­rest, and of­fi­cers’ names.

GMP have been ap­proached for a com­ment.

As­sis­tant Chief Con­sta­ble Rob Potts said: “We re­ceived no­tice from the In­for­ma­tion Com­mis­sion­ers Of­fice (ICO) of their de­ci­sion to im­pose a fi­nan­cial sanc­tion on GMP fol­low­ing disks con­tain­ing three vic­tim video in­ter­views be­ing lost in the post in 2015. We are now con­sid­er­ing our re­sponse.

“The disks were sent in ac­cor­dance with na­tional guid­ance for send­ing sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion, how­ever when it be­came ap­par­ent that the disks may have been lost we im­me­di­ately re­viewed our own pro­ce­dures and as a re­sult postal de­liv­ery is no longer used by GMP for sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion.

“I think it is im­por­tant to stress that when the po­ten­tial loss did be­come ap­par­ent, we worked closely along­side Royal Mail to do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to try to find the disks and im­me­di­ately in­formed the three peo­ple con­cerned in the video in­ter­views

“They have been kept up­dated of this on-go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion and con­tacted to in­form them of the ICO’s de­ci­sion.

“I also think it is im­por­tant to stress that since this in­ci­dent, the na­tional guid­ance sur­round­ing send­ing sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion has also been amended.”

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