The Information Commissioner’s Office issued the following statement today:
A police force has been fined after sensitive personal details of a woman who accused her partner of domestic abuse were passed to the suspect.
Kent Police handed the solicitor the entire contents of the complainant’s mobile phone.
The force has now been fined £80,000 for what an ICO investigation found to be a serious contravention of the Data Protection Act.
Stephen Eckersley, ICO Head of Enforcement, said:
“Kent Police was investigating a serious matter yet the need to take proper care of the personal details they were entrusted with does not appear to have been taken seriously.
“Today’s fine should serve as a warning to other forces that it is vital they have robust measures in place to protect individuals’ personal data and guard against such inappropriate disclosures.”
The complainant had given her phone to Kent Police because it contained a video recording she said supported her accusation against her partner, who was a police officer. Her phone also contained lots of other files, with sensitive personal data including text messages and family photographs.
The officer was subject to a professional standards investigation by Kent Police into misconduct. Kent Police sent the officer’s solicitor the data contained in the woman’s mobile phone by mistake in advance of the misconduct hearing. The solicitor then disclosed the information to his client.
An ICO investigation found that Kent Police had inappropriate security measures, and that it had committed a serious breach of the law, likely to have caused substantial distress.