Kent Police have been heavily fined by Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after divulging the entire contents of a woman’s mobile phone to the man she had accused of abusing her.
The Commissioner’s Office fined the firm a hefty £80,000 for what he described as a “serious contravention” of data protection laws.
The unnamed woman at the centre of the case had given her phone to Kent Police because, she said, it contained a video which supported her claims that her partner, a police constable, had been violent towards her.
The officer was under investigation at the time.
After extracting the data, the force sent it to the man’s solicitor in error, and the latter passed it on to his client.
The phone had contained, the ICO noted, “lots of other files, with sensitive personal data including text messages and family photographs.”
The report continues:
“The Commissioner also considers that such distress was likely to be substantial having regard to the highly sensitive nature of some of the personal data, the circumstances of the data subject and the relationship between the data subject and the officer.”
Kent Police later attempted to retrieve the phone data, but its efforts amounted to the “bare minimum to be expected” and were ultimately unsuccessful, “resulting in ongoing distress”.
ICO Head of Enforcement Stephen Eckersley 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.”
He hoped, he said, that the fine would “serve as a warning to other forces”.
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