In the course of their professional duties, police officers will often be required to request, view and process personal information, much of which can be highly sensitive in nature. The members of the police accessing confidential information, therefore, must act within certain guidelines and restrictions to uphold data protection regulations within the force, and as imposed by the law.
However, despite the integrity and professionalism we expect from police officers, there are those who unfortunately abuse their data access privileges for snooping on private information. Such actions can compromise the data privacy rights of fellow employees, as well as crime witnesses and victims.
Incidents like this should never happen, so where police officers have breached data protection law, those affected could be entitled to claim compensation for any harm caused. As specialists in data protection breach claims, we have held many third parties to account for exposing or compromising data, recovering huge sums in damages to date for our clients. You can contact us for free, no-obligation advice to find out more about making a claim now on a No Win, No Fee basis.
Police accessing confidential information in breach of regulations
As mentioned before, police officers are entitled to access information for many reasons. However, there needs to be a valid policing purpose for viewing and using confidential information, and the police officer in question must have the appropriate authorisation before accessing the data.
Employees in the police accessing confidential information without authorisation or valid reasons can be in breach of force policy and could be subjected to disciplinary action, and even dismissal in the worst cases.
Recent police data breaches
Some people may wonder what would drive police officers to breach their professional duty and risk their position. Shamefully, there can often be extremely trivial reasons behind police accessing confidential information. For example, an officer at Avon and Somerset Police was reportedly dismissed for using police IT systems to view the details of a man she intended to go on a date with. Her actions were found to constitute gross misconduct and were considered to go against the strict data protection policy in place at the branch.
Similarly, a special constable at Hampshire Police reportedly left his position before a disciplinary procedure had the chance to lead to his dismissal. The officer in question had illicitly browsed police databases to look up the personal information of approximately 18 people.
Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. A recent report on the 2,300 data breaches reported by UK police force’s in 2020 found that the actions of employees played a role in the breaching of regulations, alongside third-party attacks, in many cases.
Holding police officers to account through compensation claims
Police accessing confidential information without authorisation may not only be breaching organisational policy, they could also be in breach of data protection law. We hold the police to a high standard in terms of crime fighting, so why should this not be the same for data protection?
If you have been affected by the consequences of a member of the police accessing confidential information without the required policing reasons or authorisation, you may be entitled to claim compensation. As part of a claim, you may be able to recover damages for any distress you have suffered, as well as for any financial losses or expenses, where applicable.
Our expert lawyers can offer free, no-obligation advice on your potential No Win, No Fee claim, so contact us today for more information.
IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.
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