Crime data blunder: Victims’ addresses were sent to their ABUSERS in series of potentially catastrophic errors, report reveals
- The Ministry of Justice released details of 17 data breaches in its annual report
- Among those were details of stalking victims being given to the perpetrators
- Details of criminal suspects were posted to their neighbours, the report claims
- Victims’ Commissioner Dame Vera Baird described the failures as ‘very bad’
Victims’ addresses were wrongly sent to criminals in a series of shocking blunders by court and prison officials, a report has revealed.
In three cases last year, the location of domestic abuse and stalking victims was disclosed to the very people they were trying to escape from.
Phone numbers for friends and relatives of prisoners were mistakenly given to other criminals, while details of suspects were posted to their neighbours.
A Ministry of Justice annual report has admitted there have been 17 data breaches which have been reported to the Information Commissioner
The potentially catastrophic errors were among 17 data breaches disclosed by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in its annual report. All were reported to privacy watchdog the Information Commissioner but so far none has led to enforcement action such as fines.
Last night Victims’ Commissioner Dame Vera Baird QC said: ‘These are very bad errors. Court officials are bashing out these notices but in fact people’s wellbeing is at stake.
‘Once a victim of domestic abuse has gone to court their level of risk is heightened, so giving their address out is a very dangerous error to make.’
Labour’s justice spokesman David Lammy said: ‘It’s appalling that highly sensitive information has been wrongly disclosed on numerous occasions. The Government must get a grip before lives are put at risk.’
Last night Victims’ Commissioner Dame Vera Baird QC said: ‘These are very bad errors. Court officials are bashing out these notices but in fact people’s wellbeing is at stake
A total of 121,355 people were affected by 17 serious personal data loss incidents reported by the MoJ to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in 2019-20. Thousands more were hit by 6,245 minor blunders including 250 documents or gadgets being lost on government premises, 573 papers and devices going missing outside and 5,445 incidents of ‘unauthorised disclosure’. Potentially the three most serious errors happened when court clerks gave away victims’ locations to their alleged pursuers.
The MoJ report stated that in September last year ‘a restraining order was incorrectly drafted at a magistrates’ court, resulting in the disclosure of the confidential address of the victim, to the perpetrator’.
In a similar case two days earlier, a victim’s address was disclosed to a crown court defendant and that December another victim’s address was given to their alleged abuser when a summons was mistakenly sent to the respondent in a restraining order case.
The names, email addresses and National Insurance numbers of 121,109 civil servants were made accessible to hackers and identity thieves by a technical error last December.
The ICO said: ‘It may not always be necessary to use our formal enforcement powers. We will take steps… where appropriate.’ The MoJ said it handles ‘millions of records and takes all incidents of personal data loss very seriously.’
Labour’s justice spokesman David Lammy said: ‘It’s appalling that highly sensitive information has been wrongly disclosed on numerous occasions. The Government must get a grip before lives are put at risk’