Monetary Penalty for CPS

November 4, 2015

The Crown Prosecution Service has been fined £200,000 by the ICO after laptops containing videos of police interviews were stolen from a private film studio. The monetary penalty notice is here.

The interviews were with 43 victims and witnesses. They involved 31 investigations, nearly all of which were ongoing and of a violent or sexual nature. Some of the interviews related to historical allegations against a high-profile individual. The videos were being edited by a Manchester-based film company so that they could be used in criminal proceedings.

But an ICO investigation found the videos were not being kept securely.

The film company used a residential flat as a studio. The studio was burgled on 11 September 2014 and two laptops containing the videos were stolen. The laptops, which were left on a desk, were password protected but not encrypted and the studio had no alarm and insufficient security.

The police recovered the laptops eight days later and apprehended the burglar. As far as the Commissioner is aware, the laptops had not been accessed by anyone else.

The ICO ruled that the CPS was negligent when it failed to ensure the videos were kept safely and did not take into account the substantial distress that would be caused if the videos were lost.

Head of Enforcement Stephen Eckersley, said:

‘Handling videos of police interviews containing highly sensitive personal data is central to what the CPS does. The CPS was aware of the graphic and distressing nature of the personal data contained in the videos, but was complacent in protecting that information. The consequences of failing to keep that data safe should have been obvious to them.'”

The CPS reported the incident to the ICO and informed the victims and witnesses involved. The ICO received complaints from three affected people. As part its investigation, the ICO learned that the CPS had been using the same film company since 2002. The CPS delivered unencrypted DVDs to the studios using a national courier firm. If the case was urgent, the sole proprietor would collect the unencrypted DVD from the CPS personally and take it to the studio using public transport.

The ICO found that this constituted an ongoing contravention of the Data Protection Act 1998 until the CPS took remedial action following the security breach on 11 September 2014.