‘Lost’ DVDs cost GMP £150,000
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.”