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Police breach data protection laws

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An article posted recently on the BBC News website highlights the importance of the need for the police to comply with data protection laws.

The article entitled, ‘Guernsey Police breached data protections laws’ refers to a case on the island of Guernsey where the island’s Data Protection Commissioner found that there was some inaccurate and out of date information held on the file of a person involved in an on-going custody case.

In that case, the person involved felt that the inaccurate information, held by the police, had been damaging to his case.

A force spokesman confirmed certain data had been recorded inaccurately and the process was already being reviewed and measures were being adopted to help ensure a similar occurrence would not happen again.

Although the article related to a case in Guernsey, police forces in England and Wales are required to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 which imposes certain duties and requirements on forces, as well as other public bodies such as Local Authorities, when it comes to protecting and managing data relating to members of the public. This includes the need to maintain accurate information.

It is absolutely essential that the police and other public bodies, such as the courts and Local Authorities, comply with Data Protection laws by ensuring that information that they hold about people is accurate and up to date. In some situations, the body in question may need to question whether or not it is justified in retaining information, that it might hold about someone, at all.

Many would argue that it is even more important for organisations such as the police to ensure that information held is accurate given that, in some situations, the holding of inaccurate information could lead to the loss of a person’s liberty.

By Stuart Crook, solicitor in the actions against public bodies team

Stephensons has a dedicated civil liberties unit who may be able to advise and assist you with making a damages claim against the police or any other public body if you feel that you have suffered loss as a result of those bodies breaking data protection laws. Call us now on 01616 966 229.