Information Commissioner calls for custodial sentences

27 Nov 2009 View Comments
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Police fine of up to £750 for information breach is not enough, according to Information Commissioner

The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, has called for custodial sentences for serious breaches of the data protection law following the death of a pensioner caused by illegal disclosure of police information.

The data, which had been held on the Police National Computer, contained the address of a 79-year-old man that was passed on by an officer to a member of the public.

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The pensioner had been involved in a dispute with a woman regarding a parking space.

The member of the public acting on behalf of the woman involved subsequently threw a brick through the pensioner's window resulting in his death through shock.

Two men were convicted of manslaughter, but the police officer could only be fined £1,200.

Another case involved a civilian employee of Essex Police who accessed intelligence data illegally on 800 cases but could only be fined £750.

Graham said in the report that existing penalties "only have a limited detrimental effect" and that making imprisonment a penalty would underline the serious nature of the offence.

He said the development of new systems and more interconnection meant disclosure risks were becoming greater and that it was essential to create effective sanctions to maintain public trust.

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