Officers sacked for data breaches

Bicester Advertiser: New figures have revealed how many West Midlands Police officers have been sacked for data protection breaches New figures have revealed how many West Midlands Police officers have been sacked for data protection breaches

Officers with one of the country's largest police forces have been sacked for a range of data protection breaches, new figures show.

West Midlands Police said 30 staff, including detectives, were investigated for a string of information breaches since 2009.

Seven were dismissed without notice and resigned following accusations.

A further nine received management advice while five were handed final written warnings.

Breaches included misusing the police database and accessing confidential information.

A Victim Support spokesman said it was "very worrying" that the personal data of victims of crime might be being accessed and used inappropriately by people in a position of trust.

Chief Inspector Deb Doyle, from the force's professional standards department, said allegations against officers or staff working for West Midlands Police are taken very seriously and are investigated thoroughly by the force's professional standards department.

"We also routinely pro-actively examine the behaviour of all officers and staff working within the organisation and act accordingly wherever we see failings.

"We expect the highest standards from all staff and where behaviour does not meet these expectations the appropriate action is taken, working closely with the Crown Prosecution Service and the Independent Police Complaints Commission where necessary.

"Maintaining the highest professional standards is essential as part of our ongoing commitment to secure and maintain the trust and confidence of the communities we serve."

The data, just released under the Freedom of Information Act, comes after the Press Association reported last month how 35 forces in England and Wales recorded a total of 2,031 cases of data protection breaches between January 2009 and October 2013.

Investigations led to 186 resignations nationally, while 113 were sacked as a result of their behaviour.

Of those investigated, at least 34 were inspectors or chief inspectors, while 474 were deemed ''staff'' - civilian officers who do not get involved with rank-and-file policing.

They included police officers censured for snooping on their children and ex-wives as well as social media gaffes.

In one case, a Pc got into hot water after wrongly telling family members that a loved one had died.

The investigation showed Avon and Somerset Constabulary reported the highest number of incidents (289) nationally.

West Midlands Police's data showed a detective constable was dismissed without notice in 2010 when they were found to have conducted "an inordinate amount of unlawful checks on systems".

The same year, a Pc was given a final written warning for the "interrogation of police systems and giving out information".

Another Pc, also in 2010, was handed the same punishment for "acting inappropriately in checking police system and causing a stolen report to be removed", while a colleague received management advice for "conducting checks not related to his role as a police officer".

In 2012, a detective constable was also dismissed without notice for accessing and disclosing confidential information, the force said.

West Midlands Police is the second largest police force in the country, serving a population of almost 2.8 million.

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