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Probation officer fined for breach of the Data Protection Act 1998

Written by Rehana Ali on 20 August 2013

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The Information Commissioners Office initiated the prosecution when it discovered that a probation officer had provided information (including the name of the investigating officer and the personal details) on a victim of domestic abuse to the alleged perpetrator.

The 39 year old probation officer Victoria Idowu was prosecuted at the Camberwell Green Magistrates Court last week pursuant to section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998

The victim contacted the police the same day the information was leaked in a tormented state complaining the perpetrator had become aware of the victims home address, the victim subsequently cut contact with the police and related services having lost all confidence in them, charges against the individual believed to be responsible for the domestic violence were later dropped.

The probation officer responsible for the mess was fined £150.00, ordered to pay a £250.00 charge towards court costs and a £20.00 victim surcharge. She was separately subject to disciplinary proceedings resulting in her employment being terminated on grounds of gross misconduct.

The Information Commissioner has commented:

“Ms 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”

Section 55 of the Data Protection Act criminalizes the act of unlawfully obtaining or accessing personal data .The offence is currently punishable solely by way of fine in the following amounts:

  • £5,000 max - Magistrates Court.
  • £ unlimited -  Crown Court.

The processing of personal information is commonplace amongst the many organisations, it is paramount for all organisations to be aware of their Data Protection obligations. Lawdit has acted for a vast number of clients in relation to Data Protection, for more information click this link!

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