CPS penalised for losing interviews with victims of serious sexual offences

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has been fined £325,000 after losing unencrypted DVDs of police interviews.

May 25, 2018
By Joe Shine

According to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), which imposed the penalty, the loss was not noticed until a month after they were sent to another office.

This is the second penalty imposed on the CPS following the loss of sensitive video recordings in November 2015.

The DVDs, which contained recordings of interviews with 15 victims of child sex abuse, were sent by tracked delivery between two CPS offices in November 2016, with the recipient office being in a shared building.

However, the delivery was made outside office hours, so the DVDs were left in the reception.

Although the entry doors to the building were locked, anyone with access to the building could access the reception area.

The DVDs contained sensitive details of the victims, as well as personal data of the perpetrator and some identifying information about other parties.

Despite realising that the DVDs had been lost in December 2016, the victims were notified of the loss in March 2017 and the ICO was notified the following month.

The ICO ruled that the CPS was negligent when it failed to ensure the videos were kept safe and did not consider the “substantial distress” that would be caused if the videos were lost.

It also found that despite being fined £200,000 following a breach in 2015 in which victim and witness video evidence was also lost, the CPS had not ensured appropriate care would be taken in the future to avoid similar breaches.

Head of Enforcement at the ICO Steve Eckersley said: “The victims of serious crimes entrusted the CPS to look after their highly sensitive personal data – a loss in trust could influence victims’ willingness to report serious crimes.

“The CPS failed to take basic steps to protect the data of victims of serious sexual offences. Given the nature of the personal data, it should have been obvious that this information must be properly safeguarded, as its loss could cause substantial distress.

“The CPS must take urgent action to demonstrate that it can be trusted with the most sensitive information.”

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