Police database abuse ‘hugely intrusive’

The Big Brother Watch finds 900 police officers and staff breached the Data Protection Act in the last three years.


Police abuse of databases has been branded "hugely intrusive" after a report found hundreds of officers had broken the law in accessing important information.

Over 900 police officers and staff in the UK were subject to internal disciplinary procedures for breaching the Data Protection Act (DPA) over the past three years, the Big Brother Watch revealed.

After putting in a host of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests with forces across the UK, the Big Brother Watched discovered 98 police officers and staff were fired for breaching the Act.

The data also showed 243 received criminal convictions for breaking laws set down by the DPA.

"Our investigation shows that not only have police employees been found to have run background records checks on friends and possible partners, but some have been convicted for passing sensitive information to criminal gangs and drug dealers," said Daniel Hamilton, director of the Big Brother Watch.

"This is at best hugely intrusive and, at worse, downright dangerous. Police forces must adopt a zero tolerance approach to this kind of behaviour. Those found guilty of abusing their position should be sacked on the spot."

The Merseyside force had a particularly poor record, with a total of 208 police officers and staff receiving legal cautions for "viewing a computer record relating to a high profile arrest."

In Nottinghamshire, a police sergeant was sent to jail for 12 months after being found guilty of accessing police systems in order to obtain personal data for non policing purposes.

In Lancashire, a member of police staff was sacked after disclosing confidential policing information on Facebook. A co-worker in the same authority was given a final written warning for conducting 53 criminal records checks for "no obvious policing purpose."

This week saw allegations former Downing Street head of communications Andy Coulson paid the police for access to privileged information.

Last month saw the launch of a new Police National Database, containing the details of between 10 and 15 million people.

Featured Resources

Defeating ransomware with unified security from WatchGuard

How SMBs can defend against the onslaught of ransomware attacks

Free download

The IT expert’s guide to AI and content management

How artificial intelligence and machine learning could be critical to your business

Free download

The path to CX excellence

Four stages to thrive in the experience economy

Free download

Becoming an experience-based business

Your blueprint for a strong digital foundation

Free download


NICE's E-Request expedites 911 evidence sharing

NICE's E-Request expedites 911 evidence sharing

16 Aug 2021

Most Popular

What are the pros and cons of AI?
machine learning

What are the pros and cons of AI?

8 Sep 2021
Apple patches zero-day flaw abused by infamous NSO exploit

Apple patches zero-day flaw abused by infamous NSO exploit

14 Sep 2021
Google takes down map showing homes of 111,000 Guntrader customers
data breaches

Google takes down map showing homes of 111,000 Guntrader customers

2 Sep 2021