doc

HAMPSHIRE Constabulary has been exposed in a report as one of the worst forces in the country for abusing confidential information.

Figures from Big Brother Watch revealed that two police workers were convicted and two cautioned for breaching the Data Protection Act in the past three years, ranking the force among the ten worst in England and Wales.

They also showed that four police staff, three police officers and one civilian employee were sacked as a result of breaching the confidential files.

The force, which is the second largest non-metropolitan force, also ranked poorly when it came to the number of police officers and civilian staff who were sacked or were subject to internal disciplinary procedures for breaches.

Twenty-two police officers and 11 civilian staff faced internal disciplinary proceedings for breaches.

Now calls have been made for Chief Constable Alex Marshall to launch an urgent inquiry to stop repeats in the future.

The force says that none of the incidents related to staff misusing data for corruption or financial gain, but related to individuals accessing information for personal use, such as checking up on a new partner to see if they had come to police notice.

The true extent to which police in Hampshire abuse their access to confidential databases was uncovered by Big Brother Watch under the Freedom of Information Act.

It revealed that between 2007 and 2010, the force ranked in the top ten for the most police workers convicted, sacked and those who faced internal disciplinary proceedings as a result of breaching the Data Protection Act.

Big Brother Watch director Daniel Hamilton told the Daily Echo: “People will rightly be outraged to hear that Hampshire police are one of the worst offenders nationally.

“The Chief Constable should come forward, admit the force has a problem and establish an urgent inquiry to ensure such breaches can never happen again.”

Hampshire police confirmed that past instances include an officer checking a vehicle before it was purchased and incidents relating to members of their immediate family, not corruption or financial gain.

A spokeswoman said that there were monitoring systems in place to identify breaches, with all staff aware that any breach would be dealt with “robustly”.

She added: “Hampshire Constabulary takes a proactive stance with regards to misuse of police information and always takes appropriate action when breaches are identified.

“These in the main relate to instances whereby individuals have accessed information for personal use only, which nevertheless is still taken very seriously.”

Nationally a total of 243 police officers and staff received criminal convictions for breaching the Data Protection Act, 98 had their employment terminated and 904 were subjected to internal disciplinary proceedings.