South East Wales

South Wales Police fined £160k for sexual abuse case data breach

Police generic
Image caption The ICO said the breach was "extremely serious"

The South Wales Police force has been fined £160,000 after losing video interviews with a sexual abuse victim.

The fine has been imposed by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) after unencrypted DVDs of interviews were left in a desk drawer.

Staff discovered the loss after moving office in 2011 but the security breach went unreported for nearly two years.

The ICO said the force had "failed to take all appropriate measures" against the accidental loss of personal data.

A second interview had to be abandoned due to the victim's distress and the DVDs have still not been recovered. The defendants in the case were eventually convicted in court.

Anne Jones, ICO Assistant Commissioner for Wales said the breach was "extremely serious".

"Without any doubt we would expect a professional police force, in a position of trust, dealing with this type of highly sensitive information from victims and witnesses on a daily basis to have robust procedures to keep track of the personal data in their care," she said.

"The organisation has failed to take all appropriate measures against the unauthorised processing and accidental loss of personal data."

Apology

Responding to the fine, Assistant Chief Constable Richard Lewis said the force had acted immediately to change its processes and a new policy was in place

"South Wales Police takes its responsibilities for the management and security of information extremely seriously and has apologised to the victim in this case," he said.

But the officer also criticised the fine as a "very significant financial penalty particularly at a time of such financial austerity".

"South Wales Police is currently considering whether to now appeal against this penalty," said ACC Lewis.

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