Force apologises after notebook with details of people vulnerable to gangs stolen from police car
West Midlands Police has issued an apology after a notebook containing information on people vulnerable to gang-related activity was stolen from an unmarked car.
The force said their gangs team was involved in a foot chase in the Ladywood area of Birmingham on May 29 when the item was stolen from an unattended car.
The force said it had sent formal letters to people whose details were in the notebook and offered them support.
Police said they referred the incident to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) but believe the theft has not put anyone directly at risk.
Commenting on the incident, Assistant Chief Constable Danny Long said: “On May 29, a notebook containing rough notes on operational policing matters was taken from one of our unmarked cars in Birmingham.
“An investigation was immediately launched to determine any threat and risk posed to members of our community.
“A debrief was carried out with the officers involved so we could quickly determine what was contained within the notebook.
“Once this review was carried out we undertook a comprehensive intelligence assessment to understand if any of this information would pose a risk to any individuals.
“The notebook contained details of people assessed as being involved in, or vulnerable to, gang-related activities.
“We conducted a series of visits and sent formal letters to the people whose details were thought to be contained within the notebook, notifying them of the theft and offering support.”
Mr Long added: “The officer involved was given management advice and we’ve been working to address our policies regarding how we use, store and destroy sensitive information.
“At present we do not know where the notebook is. The investigation into the theft is ongoing and we continue to monitor any potential risks within our communities and put the appropriate safeguarding in place.
“We are very sorry that this information found its way into the public domain. We manage highly sensitive information every day, which is vital in our fight against violent crime.
“We immediately put the relevant safeguarding in place and were open and transparent with the people who were involved. We did not feel it was appropriate to share this information any wider at the time, as that may have made the situation worse, or potentially put people at further risk.
“We will welcome the findings of the ICO report once completed and will take any recommendations on board.”