Over 230 UK Police Disciplined for Computer Misuse

Hundreds of UK police officers have been disciplined over the past two financial years for misusing computer systems, a new Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed. Think tank Parliament Street received data from 23 forces across England and Wales as part of the FOI-based research.

In total, 237 officers and staff members were disciplined, with six resigning during investigations and 11 sacked.

In Gwent, three officers were fired for searching the police database for a named person, disclosing confidential information and unlawfully accessing information. In Wiltshire, three officers lost their jobs for misusing the police database.
Surrey police has the dubious honor of being the force with the highest number of incidents, recording 50 individual cases. Next came the Metropolitan Police with 18. Here, one staffer was sacked for misusing the Crime Reporting Information System (CRIS) and four were disciplined for misusing social media. In Cumbria, 16 incidents occurred over the two years after individuals accessed police systems without a policing purpose. “Instilling the highest standards of IT best practice in serving officers and operational staff is critical for maintaining the integrity of our police forces. All too often these incidents arise due to a lack of training or understanding about the need for correctly handling sensitive information,” argued Sheila Flavell, COO of FDM Group.

“With cybercrime on the rise, it’s vital that those tasked with keeping us safe are proficient with technology and acutely aware of the importance of data protection rules.”

The study calls to mind a Huntsman Security report from 2017 which revealed that UK police investigated nearly 800 cases of misuse of data by staff over the previous 12 months. In addition, a Big Brother Watch report from 2016 revealed 2315 recorded incidents of data breaches between June 2011 and December 2015. Over 800 staff and officers accessed personal info without a policing purpose and over 800 shared information “inappropriately” with third parties during the period.

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