Government watchdog fines Kent Police £100k for confidential information blunder
PUBLISHED: 14:26 19 March 2014 | UPDATED: 11:49 20 March 2014
Kent Police have been fined £100,000 for leaving confidential records and interview tapes for all to see in a former Gravesend police station.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said only good fortune stopped the sensitive material “falling into the wrong hands”.
Records dating back to the 1980s were left in the Windmill Street station when it was vacated by the police in July 2009.
Tapes, recordings, videos and documents ended up in the hands of a business that moved into the building.
When they were found, the business owner said he was planning to watch the tapes “for entertainment”.
An ICO spokesman said the blunder was only discovered coincidentally when a police officer on an unrelated visit in November 2012 noticed a pile of tapes with the Kent Police logo on.
They had been left in the basement along with interviews with informants, crime victims and convicted criminals.
The documents also included information about police staff.
Kent Police had no procedure in place to ensure information was securely removed, the ICO found.
The problem was made worse due to a breakdown in communications between departments involved in the move.
“If this information had fallen into the wrong hands the impact on people’s lives would have been enormous and damaging,” ICO head of enforcement Stephen Eckersley said.
“How a police force could leave such information unattended in a basement for several years is difficult to understand.
“Ultimately, this breach was a result of a clear lack of oversight, information governance and guidance from Kent Police which led to sensitive information being abandoned.
“It is only good fortune that the