Police databases: how over 900 staff abuse their access

For the first time, Big Brother Watch has uncovered the true extent to which Police abuse their access to confidential databases. 

This report follows allegations yesterday that former Downing Street Head of Communications Andy Coulson paid the Police in order to receive privileged information.

Between 2007 and 2010:

  • 243 Police officers and staff received criminal convictions for breaching the Data Protection Act (DPA).
  • 98 Police officers and staff had their employment terminated for breaching the DPA.
  • 904 Police officers and staff were subjected to internal disciplinary procedures for breaching the DPA.

A full breakdown of results by local police authority can be found here.

Commenting on the research findings Daniel Hamilton, Director of Big Brother Watch said:

“The allegations surrounding Andy Coulson are just the tip of the iceberg.

“It’s astonishing to think that 904 Police officers and support staff across England have faced disciplinary action for abusing their access to confidential systems. 243 have received criminal convictions for their actions, while 98 have lost their jobs.

“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.  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.”

Key examples

  • In Merseyside alone, 208 officers and Police staff received criminal convictions for breaching the DPA since 2007.
  • The areas with the largest number of officers and Police staff who had their employment terminated for DPA breaches since 2007 were: Kent (10), Merseyside (7), West Midlands (7), Northumbria (6), Derbyshire (5) and Humberside (5).
  • The areas with the largest number of officers and Police staff subjected to internal disciplinary procedures for DPA breaches since 2007 were: Merseyside (208), West Midlands (83), Humberside (62), South Yorkshire (42), and Northumbria (39).

Media Contact

For broadcast interviews or further enquiries, please contact:

Daniel Hamilton
Director, Big Brother Watch
07810 785 924
020 7340 6030

Posted by on Jul 7, 2011 in Databases | 8 Comments