Big Brother Watch said that UK police staff inappropriately accessed personal information between June 2011 and December 2015.
The report, which is based on Freedom of Information requests sent to all UK police forces, raises questions about the police’s ability to protect civilian data. In one case a Metropolitan Police officer found the name of a victim so funny that he attempted to take a photo of the driving licence and send it to his friend over Snapchat. In another case a Greater Manchester Police officer tipped someone off that they would be arrested, and one from North Yorkshire Police conducted a check on a vehicle on his phone whilst off-duty. A South Wales Police copper was dismissed after photographing and distributing restricted documents “for personal gain,” the report said.
The worry is if the coppers are doing these sorts of things now what are they going to get up to when they can see people’s internet records, which will become possible under the UK’s Investigatory Powers Bill.
Given that some of the information was leaked to organised crime groups, it is possible to see a bent cop supplying such types with blackmail information.
The coppers seem a bit lax when it comes to disciplining officers involved in such caused. The majority of incidents, 1,283, ended up with no disciplinary action taking place, while 297 ended in a resignation or dismissal, 258 resulted in a written or verbal warning, and 70 led to a criminal conviction or caution.