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Kent Police fined £100K by Information Commissioner's Office after leaving confidential documents and tapes in disused police station

19 March 2014
by KentOnline reporter
Kent Police must pay a £100,000 fine after a potentially 'enormous and damaging' security blunder.
It comes after confidential information, including copies of police interview tapes, were left in the basement of the former Gravesend police station.
The highly sensitive information included records relating back to the 1980s, thought to have been left at the site when police left the building in July 2009. 

Police left sensitive tapes and information in a disused station

The information only came to light when a police officer visited a business owner who had taken up the site in November 2012.
When he pointed out the pile of tapes with the police logo on, the businessman confessed he had found them in the basement and was planning to watch them for entertainment.

When other officers visited the the next day they recovered hundreds of additional documents and evidence tapes.
These included recorded interviews with informants, crime victims and individuals who had subsequently been convicted.
The documents also included information about police staff. 
Now the Information Commissioner's Office has fined the force £100,000, and condemned the security breach.
Kent Police

Kent Police

ICO head of enforcement, Stephen Eckersley, said: “If this information had fallen into the wrong hands the impact on people’s lives would have been enormous and damaging.

"These tapes and files included extremely sensitive and confidential information relating to individuals, many of whom had been involved in serious and violent crimes.

“If this information had fallen into the wrong hands the impact on people’s lives would have been enormous and damaging" - Stephen Eckersley

"How a police force could leave such information unattended in a basement for several years is difficult to understand."

He said the breach was a result of a clear lack of oversight, which had led to sensitive information being abandoned.

He added: "It is only good fortune that the mistake was uncovered when it was and the information hasn’t fallen into the wrong hands.”

The investigation found that Kent Police had no guidance or procedures in place to makes sure personal information was securely removed from former premises.

A Kent Police spokesman said no sensitive information was lost in the incident and new procedures had been put in place.

He said: "Kent Police has co-operated fully with the Information Commissioner's Office and accepts the findings of its investigation.

"It is unacceptable for police property to have been left at the site of the former station in Gravesend following the move to North Kent Police Station in July 2008.

"Since this was reported in 2012, Kent Police has reviewed its policies to ensure all documentation and files containing personal information are dealt with appropriately and in compliance with Data Protection legislation.

"In addition we have now implemented new procedures when vacating police premises.

"After the discovery of the loss of data from the former police station, officers quickly retrieved and secured all documentation and property belonging to Kent Police.

"No sensitive information was lost or further disseminated."

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