Nearly 100 police staff abused data access
NEARLY 100 police staff in Greater Manchester have abused data access since 2009, new figures have revealed.
Eight out of the 93 staff members were sacked following disciplinary proceedings and 10 resigned or retired before proceedings took place.
Offences ranged from stealing information to trying to change records about police incidents.
Bury Council’s community safety representative, Cllr Jane Lewis, said she was disappointed by the behaviour of the staff involved, but Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said offences are falling.
The figures, obtained by The Bury Times and Radcliffe Times using freedom of information requests, showed details of disciplinary hearings for Data Protection Act offences from the start of 2009 to the end of 2013.
The statistics did not reveal where in the county the offences took place.
The most senior officer to commit an offence was a sergeant who revealed to a third party the personal details of someone on the police computer system in October, 2010. He was given advice about his conduct.
A member of staff was sacked in February, 2009, for breaching the act and for making a racist comment while another was sacked in February, 2011, for accessing confidential data.
In July, 2011, a PC was given a written warning after taking a pen drive containing sensitive information and in September, 2011, a PC and a PCSO were caught reading an incident report relating to a personal matter. They undertook “management action”.
The files do not include the recent case of former police call handler Kathryn Smith, of Droylsden, who was sacked this year after revealing the name of a police informer to an associate of convicted murderer Dale Cregan in Tameside.
Cllr Lewis said: “We expect the police and their support staff not only to uphold the law, but to provide a model of good conduct.
“So while it is regrettable when data protection offences are committed by anyone, it is especially disappointing when the people concerned are in a position of trust and authority such as police support staff.”
The county’s police and crime commissioner Tony Lloyd said: “Although the number of breaches is relatively small, and most of the breaches are not what you would term serious, the public would expect any incident to be dealt with properly and robustly.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Rumney, head of GMP’s professional standards branch, said the number of offences has fallen in the last year due to more prevention work.
He added: “The legal, financial and reputational risks of failing to look after personal information are clear and GMP has stringent security measures in place to protect people’s information and make sure it is handled correctly.”