The Metropolitan Police has been accused of compromising the data of 30,000 firearm and shotgun owners living in London after seemingly handing over their details to a commercial company for a direct mail campaign promoting an “invisible ink” security marking service.
The campaign, under the strapline “Protect your firearms and shotguns with SmartWater”, launched this week and features the Met Police logo.
It advises firearm and shotgun certificate holders to “buy a firearms protection pack at a reduced price” of £8.95, which includes a traceable liquid that shows up under UV lighting.
The company behind SmartWater has contracts in both the UK and US, working with the likes of the North Palm Beach Police Department. Tata Steel, Thameslink, the Met Police and a number of UK local authorities.
However, it is not known how the commercial company obtained what is one of the most sensitive databases in the UK for the campaign, which was carried out by Yes Direct Mail, based in Leeds.
An Information Commissioner’s Office spokesman told The Register: “Businesses and organisations are required under the Data Protection Act to keep people’s personal data safe and secure. If people have concerns about the way an organisation is handling their personal data, they can report them to us.”
The British Association for Shooting & Conservation added: “BASC has spoken with the Metropolitan Police and we understand they are investigating this matter. We are not in a position to comment further until the result of that investigation is known.”
No-one was available for comment from the Met Police or Yes Direct Mail.
Last year, it was revealed that UK police forces were involved in 2,315 data breaches between 2011 and 2016 in a report by Big Brother Watch. The breaches ranged in seriousness from losing files to tipping off suspects to selling data to third parties.
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