The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) appears not have learned the error of its ways after being whacked with yet another fine – this time a whopping £325,000 – after it once again lost unencrypted DVDs containing recordings of police interviews with 15 victims of child sex abuse.
The DVDs, which were to be used at a trial, contained the most intimate sensitive details of the victims, as well as the sensitive personal data of the perpetrator, and some identifying information about other parties.
They were sent by tracked delivery between two CPS offices, with the recipient office being in a shared building. The delivery was made outside office hours, and the DVDs – which were not in tamper-proof packaging – were left in the reception.
Although the building’s entry doors were locked, anyone with access to the building could access this reception area.
The DVDs were sent in November 2016, but it was not discovered that they were lost until December. The CPS notified the victims in March 2017, and reported the loss to the Information Commissioner’s Office the following month.
It is not known what has happened to the DVDs.
The ICO ruled that the CPS was negligent when it failed to ensure the videos were kept safe, and did not take into account the substantial distress that would be caused if the videos were lost.
It also found that, despite being fined £200,000 following a separate breach in November 2015 – in which victim and witness video evidence was also lost – the CPS had not ensured that appropriate care was being taken to avoid similar breaches re-occurring.
ICO head of enforcement 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.”
The CPS has self-identified systemic failings and is taking action to remedy them.
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