Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said the case of probation officer Victoria Idowu proved current sentencing regime “holds no terror” and went against the interests of justice.
Idowu, who also provided the victim’s full name and date of birth and details of the investigating officer to the perpetrator, claimed she thought the details were already known and she was attempting to avoid any chance of mistaken identity.
But the victim contacted the investigating officer, confirming the perpetrator knew where she now lived, prompting her to break off contact with the police and causing the investigation to be axed.
Idowu was found guilty of breaching Section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998 at Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court, and ordered to pay a £20 victim surcharge and a £250 contribution towards costs on top her fine. She was also dismissed from her position with London Probation Trust.
Graham, a long-term critic of “chicken feed” fines for data theft, used the case to support his calls for tougher sentencing.
He said: “This is the unpleasant but unremarkable face of data protection crime – not journalists, not lawyers, just individuals for whom the current sentencing regime holds no terror.”
“Idowu escaped with only a relatively minor penalty and no criminal record. The government must act now to introduce tougher penalties for individuals who illegally access and disclose personal information.
“This is not just a criminal breach of the Data Protection Act, but it also led to a police investigation of alleged domestic abuse being dropped.”
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman, who described Idowu’s behaviour as “unacceptable”, confirmed the MoJ will examine the circumstances of the case.
She added: “We will look carefully at the Information Commissioner’s findings and at whether there is more that we should do in this case, such as referring it to the police.”
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