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Manchester Police in the Dock After Losing Interview Footage

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has been fined £150,000 by privacy watchdog the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after unencrypted DVDs featuring interviews with victims of violent or sexual crimes were lost in the post.

Despite being sent Recorded Delivery, the DVDs apparently never arrived at their destination: the Serious Crime Analysis Section (SCAS) of the National Crime Agency.

The SCAS is tasked with identifying serial killers and rapists at an early stage.

The police force had in fact been using this method to transfer footage of interviews with victims to SCAS since 2009, and only stopped the practice after the breach in 2015, the ICO said.

Unsurprisingly, the force was found to have breached the Data Protection Act by failing to keep highly sensitive personal information in its care secure and by not having any appropriate measures in place to guard against accidental loss.

It emerged from the investigation that GMP didn’t even send the material Special Delivery as standard. Special Delivery is more secure method of delivery where an item has to be signed for every time it changes hands.

The fine is a reflection of the serious nature of the crimes and the distress that would be caused if the footage were lost, according to ICO enforcement group manager, Sally Anne Poole.

“When people talk to the police they have every right to expect that their information is handled with the utmost care and respect. Greater Manchester Police did not do this,” said Poole in a statement.

“Yet GMP was cavalier in its attitude to this data and it showed scant regard for the consequences that could arise by failing to keep the information secure.”

This isn’t the first time the GMP has been found wanting by the ICO.

It was previously fined £150,000 by the watchdog in 2012 after an unencrypted USB stick was stolen.

The Manchester-based police force was one of the top five worst offenders in a Big Brother Watch report last year which revealed 100 data breaches there in the past four years as a result of insiders abusing their position.

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