Sacked police officer awarded compensation by South Yorkshire Police over data breach

A former police officer who was sacked over a criminal offence has sued South Yorkshire Police for a data breach, which the force has blamed on 'human error'.

Friday, 19th November 2021, 8:07 am

The woman was with South Yorkshire Police for six years following her relocation to Sheffield to be closer to her immediate family before she was dismissed due to a drink driving charge.

The former officer, who had served 21 years in the Metropolitan Police prior to moving to South Yorkshire, found out her data was breached after an ex-colleague and friend got in touch with her to say that they had been contacted by a ‘third party’ about her case.

South Yorkshire Police paperwork had been sent to the home of another former police officer by mistake.

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South Yorkshire Police Headquarters on Carbrook Hall Road, Sheffield

Her disciplinary file and its outcome, as well as her name, address, and barring status, had all been accessed by a third party.

She sought legal action through Liverpool-based High Street Solicitors and received £1,750 in compensation for the data breach, which she said had caused ‘a great amount of stress’.

She said: “This data breach has caused a great amount of stress for me and my family.

“I was unable to speak to my family and closest friends about the dismissal as it was so upsetting, and to think a third party had access to the disciplinary hearing and result is deeply disturbing.

“The information disclosed is incredibly sensitive and I have felt highly embarrassed, stressed and anxious about this data breach.

“I can only thank High Street Solicitors for taking legal action which will hopefully ensure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Niamh Jones, Head of Data Breach at High Street Solicitors, said: “No one's personal and sensitive information should be shared without their consent.

“This is a very private matter and the claimant has suffered an immense amount of distress as a result of the data breach.

“I’d urge anyone who believes their personal details have been shared without their consent to contact us. We will work to recover compensation for all data breaches.”

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South Yorkshire Police: ‘A result of human error’

South Yorkshire Police, in response, said this was a result of 'human error' and they have 'unreservedly apologised' to the victim.

The force also said it has taken internal action to help prevent the same mistake happening again in the future.

In a statement, a South Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: “Data breaches are something we take incredibly seriously at South Yorkshire Police.

“In this particular matter, a document containing some personal and sensitive information relating to the complainant was posted to another former police officer as a result of human error.

“We have unreservedly apologised to the victim and understand the upset and distress this matter has caused, which in turn has been reflected in a settlement agreement with the individual.

“We have also taken steps internally to help avoid the same error from happening again in future.”

The Data Protection Act 2018 is the UK's implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

An individual may be entitled to compensation of up to £2,000 or more for a data breach under UK legislation known as the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR if their personal information has been disclosed or compromised.