|South Wales Police have been fined £160,000 Photo: Alamy|
South Wales Police have been fined £160,000 after it lost the video recording which formed part of the evidence in a sexual abuse case.
So, who gets the £160,000; the victim - not likely. And from where does it come; the police budget? Does that mean the police will be hindered by a £160,000 cut. That means the people of South Wales end up paying both the fine and the loss of policing. Seems fair!???
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said the video contained a "graphic and disturbing" interview with a victim who had been sexually abused as a child.
Despite the security breach going unreported for almost two years, the police force said on Monday it is considering an appeal against the fine.
A second interview had to be abandoned due to the victim’s distress. But South Wales Police said the loss of the DVD did not prevent a successful prosecution of the in the case after the defendants were eventually convicted in court.
“Despite the DVDs containing a graphic and disturbing account, the discs were unencrypted and left in a desk drawer,” said the ICO.
The interview was recorded in August 2011 but the loss was only discovered by staff after an office move in October 2011.
Assistant chief constable Richard Lewis said: "South Wales Police takes its responsibilities for the management and security of information extremely seriously and has apologised to the victim in this case.
"Once it was apparent what had happened South Wales Police voluntarily referred the details to the ICO and launched a full investigation into this incident.”
As a result of the loss, two officers have now been given management advice and training.
The ICO said “lack of training” was responsible for the security breach going unreported for nearly two years. The DVDs have still not been recovered.
Although the DVDs were stored in a secure part of the station, there was no specific force-wide policy in place to deal with storing interviews of this nature safely in its police stations, said the ICO.
South Wales Police said it has immediately sought to change its processes and a new policy has been put in place.
|South Wales police still using DVDs? Seriously!|
"All employees are made aware of the policies and procedures which govern the management of information and since this incident a mandatory training package for all staff handling personal data has also been introduced.
"This is the first incident of a serious nature regarding loss of sensitive data for South Wales Police and unlike similar incidents which have occurred nationally, where materials have been lost in a public place, the DVDs were stored in a secure area of a police station to which access is restricted.”
Anne Jones, assistant Commissioner for Wales said the force had failed to take all appropriate measures to prevent the accidental loss of personal data.
She said: “This breach is extremely serious and despite guidance from our office, the Ministry of Justice and Association of Chief Police Officers stating it is essential to have a policy on storing this sort of information they still haven’t fully addressed the issue.
“The monetary penalty given to South Wales Police should send a clear message that organisations have to take responsibility for personal data and the way in which it is stored.”
However Mr Lewis said that while the force accepted the ICO decision, the fine was “very significant” at a time of such austerity.
“It is money which does not go to the victim but passes back to the Government and are funds that could have been used locally by the force to help enhance policing and provide vital services to our communities,” he said.
He added that the force was currently considering whether to now appeal against the penalty.
In addition to the £160,000 fine, the Information Commissioner has asked the force sign an undertaking to ensure the changes are made to implement policies to stop any incidents happening again.